Alone New Jersey Vet Walks 20 Miles To Honor 9/11 Victims LANOKA HARBOR, NJ — Driven to serve and protect his country following the 9/11 attacks, the eight months Tomaso “Tommy” Morgano spent in Afghanistan in 2007 forever changed his life. It taught him to appreciate everything around him and never take anything for granted.
Fourteen years later, as the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks neared, the Lanoka Harbor man knew he wanted to do something to honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that day.
He organized a walk on Sept. 11 at Gille Park. He would walk 20 miles, each commemorating a year gone by. He shared the event online, inviting others to join him.
On Saturday, carrying the American flag, Tommy made the walk alone.
“It almost felt like people were taken back by the sight of a man holding the flag,” his wife Kelly said in an email to Patch. Speaking on her husband’s behalf, Kelly said it felt like passers-by didn’t know what to say or think of him making the trek.
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“It was a really strange feeling,” she said.
Still, Kelly wanted to share Tommy’s story to provide a “ray of hope” during a time when the nation feels more divided than ever.
Known for being the “military home” on Lanoka Harbor’s Oxford Road, residents may know the Morganos by their summer decor — the U.S.-themed memorabilia, signs and the giant pre-lit American flag hanging on the front door of the home the couple shares with their three kids. Tommy just took the flag down after Labor Day.
Tommy and Kelly Morgano’s 3-year-old daughter, Mia, poses in front of their Lanoka Harbor home. (Courtesy of Kelly Morgano)
Originally from Lyndhurst, Tommy joined the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 21 years old, Kelly said. It was 9/11 that inspired him to enlist.
“He felt there was more he could do with his life and he wanted to serve, protect and do some good in this world,” Kelly said.
The months he spent in Kandahar, Afghanistan, taught him things he still carries with him today, Kelly said. It showed him cruelty but also instilled in him deep gratitude.
“His coping skills are far different than anyone’s I’ve seen,” Kelly said. “He always finds a solution to every problem.”
Now working as a civilian at the U.S Army Picatinny Arsenal, Tommy can no longer serve in the military due to multiple disabilities he developed during his time in Afghanistan.
Organizing a walk felt like something meaningful he could do to honor the victims of 9/11, Kelly said.
As Tommy made the 20-mile trek around Gille Park, a few people honked in support. Others encouraged him, providing him with more inspiration to keep going.