A Toms River legend many called a hero for his World War II efforts died at the age of 91 Tuesday.
World War II veteran and Silver Star recipient Leonard G. 'Bud' Lomell died of natural causes in Toms River March 1.
“He was a great friend of all of us and a hero of D-Day, a person of great character,’’ said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari.
“Bud was a very kind man, we miss him,’’ said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, recalling how Lomell served in the Second Ranger Battalion, charged with silencing German shore batteries during the D-Day invasion.
He found the shore artillery hidden in an orchard, braved German fire, and disabled the guns using thermite grenades. Little said Lomell was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Medal for his actions during the invasion.
His descriptions of what happened have been included in History Channel accounts and in Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation,’’ which devoted an entire chapter to Lomell.
American historian Stephen Ambrose recognized Lomell as the single individual — other than Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower — most responsible for the success of D-Day, which he wrote in his biographies of the president. In 1994, Lomell was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.
He was born in Brooklyn but in his youth his family relocated to Point Pleasant Beach, where he graduated from Point Pleasant Beach High School.
Before his graduation from Tennessee Wesleyan College in 1941, he served as the college’s student newspaper editor and was a fraternity president. In the year between graduation and enlistment in the Army, where he initially served with the 76th Infrantry Division before volunteering for the Rangers, Lomell returned to New Jersey to work as a brakeman for freight trains.
Lomell was 24 when as a first sergeant was the acting commander for the 2nd Ranger Battalion’s D Company, making a major impact on D-Day when he uncovered German guns to be used against Omaha and Utah Beach, and worked to disable them.
On Dec. 7, 1944, his actions leading a command up a hill that served as a German command center to overtake would later earn Lomell his Silver Star. It would be Nov. 9, 2007, during a ceremony in Toms River.
A monument to Lomell is among Veterans Park, Point Pleasant Beach, depicting a grapnal hook used to destroy the guns at Point Du Hoc. It was dedicated Dec. 4, 1999.
In Toms River, the town hall includes the Leonard Lomell Meeting Room, which was dedicated in 2008 where many of the countless awards, plaques, and proclamations Lomell was given are on display.
After the war, Lomell embarked on a career in law, becoming founder and senior member of the law firm of Lomell, Muccifori, Adler, Ravaschiere & Amabile, later simply known as the Lomell Law Firm in Toms River.
The firm of Leyden, Caportoro is the successor to Lomell Law Firm, and details its history: “We are extremely proud of Mr. Lomell's lifetime achievements and in 2000 the firm name was shortened to Lomell Law Firm in his honor. Mr. Lomell started the firm in 1957 after completing law school under the G.I. Bill. He started as a sole practitioner specializing in insurance defense for carriers.”
Countless awards were bestowed on Lomell during his lifetime, including an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 2007 from Monmouth University, Long Branch.
He also held a variety of business positions, serving on boards of directors. They include a director of The First National Bank of Toms River and a director and vice-president of Statewide Bancorp. He was a director of the South Jersey Title Insurance Co., Atlantic City.
Civic work was a large part of Lomell’s life, having served on the Dover Township Board of Education and a director of the Ocean County Historical Society.
He was also a president of the Garden State Philharmonic Symphony Society; a chairman of the Dover Township Juvenile Conference Committee; and a member of the Community Memorial Hospital building committee.
In recent years Lomell remained prominent locally and nationally for the number of interviews he gave and public speaking events he participated in on the subject of his WWII efforts.
Back in the summer of 2009 Lomell served as the honorary captain of the Ocean County squad at the annual All Shore Classic Football game. It was at the same game that former Point Boro Coach Al Saner was inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Hall of Fame. Prior to graduating from Point Beach with the class of 1937 Lomell had played football and baseball for the Garnet Gulls.