Andrew Tomlin was a Civil War hero from Goshen, N.J. (Photo courtesy of National Medal of Honor Museum)


Cape May County officials are calling on the governor to name a Garden State Parkway rest stop in honor of a Civil War hero instead of actor Bruce Willis.

Cape May County Board of Commissioners Director Leonard Desiderio sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy urging the governor to strongly consider renaming the Ocean View Service Plaza after the Civil War hero Andrew Tomlin, a Medal of Honor recipient from the Goshen section of Cape May County.

“Our veterans oftentimes, unfortunately, do not get the recognition that they deserve and hopefully in this instance, our state highway authority and Governor can do the right thing to honor one of our local heroes in a meaningful way,” Desiderio said in a county news release Thursday. “By honoring this local hero, we can ensure that his legacy continues to inspire future generations and reminds all of us of the true meaning of service and sacrifice.”

Back in February, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which oversees the Garden State Parkway, announced that the Ocean View Service Plaza would be named in honor of Willis.

Local lawmakers came out against the decision to name the service plaza after Willis, stating that Willis did not have strong ties to Cape May County. He is, however, from Salem County, N.J.

Before achieving stardom on the TV show “Moonlighting” and in the “Die Hard” action movies franchise, he grew up in Carneys Point in Salem County. He attended Penns Grove High School.

His film career came to an end in 2023 when his family announced that the 69-year-old actor was diagnosed with a form of dementia.

The Ocean View rest stop in Cape May County is the southernmost service plaza on the Garden State Parkway.

Originally, the late novelist Toni Morrison was supposed to have the Ocean View plaza dedicated in her honor, but the New Jersey Turnpike Authority was unable to get permission from her estate, so Willis was chosen instead.

On Tuesday, the Cape May County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution urging the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to reconsider Willis’ selection.

Desiderio, who is also mayor of Sea Isle City, which is just a few miles from the service plaza, said in an interview with that he thinks Willis is a fine actor, but he does not know of any ties between Willis and Cape May County or of the actor doing anything to benefit the county.

Desiderio also said Tuesday that he would like to see a veteran or community leader considered.

Tomlin was the county’s selection because of his service to his country, displaying “selflessness during his service in the Civil War, specifically in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher,” according to the county news release.

He also served on the USS Wabash during the Fort Fisher assault as one of 200 marines assembled to hold the line entrenchments in the rear of the fort.

Then-Cpl. Tomlin refused to retreat in the face of enemy fire and remained in his position throughout the night until relief troops arrived, the county release stated.

He risked his own life during an attack to assist a wounded solder struck by enemy fire. His heroic actions exemplify the values of honor, sacrifice and dedication to duty, according to the release.

“In light of his remarkable achievements and his deep connection to the county, the Cape May County Board of Commissioners is urging the New Jersey State Highway Authority and Gov. Murphy to rename the Ocean View Service Plaza in Sgt. Tomlin’s honor,” officials said in the release.

Andrew Tomlin died in 1906. (Photo courtesy of Find a Grave)