The Grouchy Gamer

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Remembering Ferdinand “Fred” Morrone – 9/11/2001

F. Morrone

F. Morrone

I never met Ferdinand Morrone.  This is his story…

Before he ever became the Superintendent of the New York Port Authority Police, Ferdinand Morrone had a law enforcement career that most cops would envy.  Born in Brooklyn, he started his career with the New Jersey State Police in 1963, and continued his education and got his PoliSci degree from Stockton State College in 1974.  He followed that up with a masters in Public Administration from Rider University in 1977.

In 1981, Justin Dintino was running the Intelligence Unit of the State Police.  He recalls;

I was running the Intelligence Unit… and he was assigned to me as an investigator.  He was a tremendous investigator.  He was like a bulldog.  I would give him the toughest cases – organized crime, solid waste, and he would always deliver the goods.  …  If he got on your tail, you might as well cry uncle, because he was going to get you.

One of the last cases he worked as a State Policeman was the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.  He was one of a few dozen cops the NJSP lent to the feds to work the investigation.  Morrone finished up his 30 years with the NJ State Police in 1993 and took his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel.  Cops like Fred didn’t just lay about the house though.  By 1996, he had taken the job as the Superintendent of the Port Authority Police, a force that is in charge of all the transportation and shipping jurisdictions in NY and NJ.  Still living in New Jersey, Fred would sometimes work at his office on the first floor of the World Trade Center, or sometimes from his office in Jersey City, depending on the day.Port Authority

Superintendent Morrone wasn’t just a cop though.  Even though he was always spoken of as a “Cop’s cop” he was also a devoted family man.  His family, Fred, his wife Linda, and his three children, Fred, Alyssa, and Gregory always knew that he would be there for them if he could on holidays.  Especially on Christmas, the family stuck to it’s traditions. He was also known for doting on his wife.  For their 25th anniversary, Fred took Linda to Hawaii for a second honeymoon.

After he had started working for the Port Authority, he had even tried to learn to relax.  He was used to being good at what he tried, so golf was a special challenge for him.  “He was very athletic” his wife
said. He wasn’t very good at it.  At first, it frustrated him.  But he learned to be content doing something that he wasn’t adept at.  “I thought it was great that he reached a point in his life that he was comfortable being bad at something he loved.  It showed a real growth in him.

In his 5 years with the Port Authority, he was credited with establishing a residential training program at the Port Authority Police Academy, toughening the training standards for the recruits, creating the International School for Airport and Seaport Security, starting a program to train officers in the use of portable heart defibrulators, establishing bike patrols in the airports, starting a scuba team, a Commercial Vehicle Inspection Unit, an Airborne Services Unit (Helicopters) and a Motorcycle Unit.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Fred was working in Jersey City when the news came in.  A plane had struck tower 1 of the World Trade Center, where Fred’s office was.  As soon as the people who knew him heard about it, they didn’t need to ask.  They knew he was on his way to help.  He phoned his wife to let her know that he was going to the city to help.  “To this day, people don’t understand why he went there” she said.  But he was a “Cop’s cop.  He would never send men to do a dangerous job if he wasn’t willing to go in there and do it himself.”  She said it was the “Cop in him” that put him in the car that day and took him to Ground Zero.

flagraisingThe last time anyone saw Ferdinand Morrone, he was on the 45th floor of the World Trade Center.  He was trying to evacuate as many people as he could, including many of his own men from offices on the 66th and 67th floors above.  He was calmly going about his business and urging people to safety below.  Within hours of the attack, the tower had collapsed, and Fred and nearly 3000 other souls were lost that day.

His wife and Children attended mass together on Christmas Day that year.  “We tried to honor him” she said. “We wanted to keep the holidays as close to the way he would want us to celebrate them.  We tried to honor my husband with the same family love and affection that we always showed each other during the holidays.”

On this, the 8th anniversary of that horrible day, I’d like to encourage people to remember Fred and the others like him who paid the ultimate price that day for nothing more than being Americans.  Remember the huge price the New York and New Jersey law enforcement and fire departments paid for doing what they lived to do; to help people to safety under the most oppressive and dangerous conditions.  Every day of their lives.

I was encouraged to do this memorial when  I heard about Project 2996.  The project is an attempt to memorialize the 2,996 people who perished that day on the ground and in the air as part of the terrorist attack on the American way of life.  The idea behind the project is that a different blogger would write about each of the people that died that day in 1991.

I was saddened that just 8 years later, there weren’t going to be enough bloggers volunteering to be able to do a proper memorium for all 2,996 who perished.  If you are a blogger, I challenge you to take this up next year and volunteer.  There are 2,996 stories to be told, and we as American are too soon to forget.  Too soon back to our routines, too soon forgetting the horror of that day, and how it outraged and galvanized us as a nation.

Please remember Ferdinand Morrone and his family today.  And please remember the other 2,995 people who also lost their lives.  Just for being Americans.  Just for not having the same beliefs and values as the terrorists.

Thank you Ferdinand for not hesitating to help others that day. Rest in Peace.  You sir, were a Great American.

And thank you Linda, Fred, Alyssa, and Gregory.  God bless and God speed.  We miss him too, even those of us who just got to know him.  We can’t imagine your loss.

14 Comments

  1. I am Hutch Morrone, the younger Fred from your story. I was looking around tonight at some of the old stories and thinking how sad it is that nothing much is done on 9/11 outside Manhattan and so little is written about those who died. Then, a friend sent me your web address. Thanks for participating in Project 2996. Not sure where you came across that quote from Dintino but thanks for doing the research.

    My father was usually mild mannered, humble guy who prayed to God daily but somehow, when he entered a room, everyone paid attention to him anyway and everyone wanted to be near him and he seemed to know just about everyone in the tri-state area. He just exuded a confident aura that people seemed to sense…you felt safe around him, you knew someone competent was in charge and everything would be OK. I imagine that’s the sense people who passed him in the Tower were thinking as he pointed them in the right direction.

    He was always my hero, and I think he was for many people that day in 2001.

  2. Hutch,

    Thanks for commenting here. I have been dismayed by how little all of those people have been remembered over the last few years.

    Everything I read about your dad seemed to point to those same things you mentioned. Strong, persuasive, a force, and still gentle and humble. It’s no wonder that people gravitated to him.

    I’m sorry you lost him the way you did, in the midst of such a tragedy for the area and the country. That must be a void that never fades away.

    Best wishes to you and your family. Please send them my regards. It was an honor to do this article.

  3. Never forget.

    Thanks Genda, for doing the article. I got a little choked up as I read it. Men like this embody the greatness of this nation; they deserve to be remembered with honor.

  4. This is a great tribute sweetheart. After reading this article, I did a little research and saw that there is a memorial fund and award that the Interport Police have created to honor Fred Morrone’s memory.

    http://iaspolice.org/morrone_educational_fund_and_9_11_award_dinner_

    Thought you would like to see it.

  5. This is a wonderful article about a true American Man in addition to the hero he was, and always will be, to so many.

    It is sad that there isn’t more written about 9/11 to honor those we have lost. We should honor the selflessness of these people everyday and try to add some of it to our own lives.

    Thanks for writing the article.

  6. This is a moving tribute – thank you for sharing it with us.

    In the three years that I’ve participated in Project 2,996, what strikes me is that we’re already losing many of the “central hub” tribute sites that were used in the past to research the lives of the 9/11 victims. Blog tributes like yours not only commemorate their lives today, but also serve as an important historical record for future generations.

    The phrase “never forget” really applies here. Thank you again for this wonderful tribute.

  7. Karen,

    Thanks for posting. I neglected to mention that Journeys with Jaye was the blog that I learned about Project 2996 from. Sorry for the omission. And thanks for bringing so many gaming bloggers into the fold.

    http://journeyswithjaye.com

  8. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man whose loss is felt not only by all who knew him but by those who have now read of him and recognize just how much we lost that day once again. I watched tv that morning when the planes hit,and stunned I stared in disbelief. I will never forget the grief I felt that day and the days that came, for those lost and those left behind. Thank you for writing this moving tribute this this hero of American.

  9. hi im hannah fred was my grandfather. i appreciate this website. he was a great man and i miss very much i was turning 2 on sept.15th and we were heading up there to see him and my grandfather. My father has told me soo many stories about him. He was a wonderful man. I look up to him and realize that almost all the time and try to make him prond. thank you i will be coming back to this website.

  10. Hanna,

    Thanks so much for visiting. I’m glad that in some small way I could help you remember your grandfather. You have a lot of reasons to be proud of him.

    I’ll keep this site up as long as I can.

    Best Wishes,
    Genda
    (You can call me Paul)

  11. Fred (Hutch);

    As always on this day, I remember your dad, and you and your family. After reading a couple of the websites, of what transpoired, you must be so proud of the actions your father, going up the tower to save those on their way down. He certailnly was one of the heroes of that day that we all can be proud of.

    Sorry we have lost touch since we left Foxwoods. NIce to see Hannah’s entry. Can’t imagine how she has grown.

    My e-mail is newgiant6@aim.com, hopefully we can get in touch with each other. You must have moved since Alpharetta, GA.

    You, your mom and siblings are always part of my thoughts and prayers throughout the year when I hear about the twin towers, but especially on this solemn date. God bless you all.

    Gigs

  12. I knew Fred as a work colleague when Fred devoted much of his time to assisting Jim Holcombe and me as investigators at the Victorian casino and gaming authority. Fred was a generous man who gave what he could to assist. He was a kind hearted person and was passionate about his role at the Port Authority. It is not surprising he went straight down to 9/11 to help others. I admire him as a friend and colleague. May he rest in peace. My condolences to his family and friends. He is sadly missed.

  13. I was honored to work with Fred just after his retirement in 1993 in South Jersey. I was living on my own just having graduated college ( Stockton w/ a poly science degree too!) He was proud of the work he had done. I can still remember the pride he had in the work he had done when he showed me pictures (b and w) of goods confiscated from criminals. He spoke often of his love for his family. He was so kind and fatherly to me. I was heart broken but not surprised to learn of what he did and how he died on 9/11. It is evident that he left a legacy of service and love in his family. Love and peace.

  14. Sue, thanks for sharing your memories of Hutch. I’m so glad people continue to remember him and visit this site.

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