• This Is Rutherford

Local Heroes: The Laval Family

Updated: May 23, 2019

Written by: Rod Leith, Rutherford Historian

The community tribute to the Laval veterans is planned to be held on Memorial Day, May 27, in conjunction with Rutherford's traditional military parade, sponsored by the Rutherford Veterans Alliance.

American Legion Post 453 was the only post in the United States to have SIX

members of one family serving in World War II simultaneously.

The family resided at 153 Wheaton Place and the sons names were: Ernest Donald, Mark William, Leon, John Robert, Albert and Moses Jr.

Five of the brothers served overseas, including one Army private, John Laval, who served with the Army Field Artillery in Italy, where he received the Purple Heart.


This past February, during Black History Month, the Rutherford community announced plans for a long overdue and richly deserved tribute to an African-American family whose six sons served in America's Armed Forces in World War II. The sons of Ella and Moses Laval, who served in multiple military branches, all came home safely.


Now, after more than 70 years, a community tribute is being planned by a special committee whose efforts are endorsed by Rutherford Mayor Joseph DeSalvo Jr. and supported by American Legion Post 453. The committee has enjoyed the assistance of direct descendants of the Laval brothers, whose names are: Mark, John, and Leon, who served in the US Army; Albert and Moses Jr., who enlisted in the US Navy; and Ernest, who served in the Army Air Corps.


The offices of Senator Cory Booker and Congressman William Pascrell have provided great needed assistance in the efforts of the Rutherford Committee to research WWII Veterans records for the Laval family tribute. The Rutherford Committee is comprised of Mayor DeSalvo, Rod Leith - Borough Historian, William D. Galloway Jr - American Legion Post 453 and members of the Laval Family.

Of five American families* known to have sent six sons to serve in World War II, only one was African-American, the Laval family, who resided at 153 Wheaton Place, Rutherford. This is truly an important episode in the community's history, especially significant for announcement during Black History Month.
The Laval Family Home, 153 Wheaton Place

The community tribute to the Laval veterans is planned to be held on Memorial Day, May 27, in conjunction with Rutherford's traditional military parade, sponsored by the Rutherford Veterans Alliance. Following the parade's customary exercises on Park Avenue, festivities will move to Wheaton Place where special ceremonies will be held.


The plans for the tribute include the renaming of Wheaton Place in honor of the six Laval veterans. The celebration will include biographical sketches delivered by the veterans' descendants. A commemorative plaque is planned to be erected on the property of the former Laval residence, which has been designated a historic site by the Rutherford Historic Preservation Committee.

* Note: Five American families with six sons who served in the Armed Forces in WWII Laval family, Rutherford, N.J.

Bucco family, Aberdeen, N.J.

LaGrasse family, Sarasota, FL.

Powell family, Springfield, IL.

Tessier family, Duluth, MN (Note: Jay Hagen of The History People, Duluth, MN. has advised that a descendant of the Tessier family is interested in there being a tribute to the six Tessier family sons who served during WWII)