Ferdinand Morrone was a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He was sixty-three years old when he was murdered by Islamic terrorists in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
In interviews given after his death, his wife Linda, remembered him as a man who lived his job but managed to live his family life as well.
Morrone held a bachelor's degree in political science from Stockton State College and a master's in public administration from Rider University. His first job in law enforcement was with the Franklin Township Police Department, and he joined the New Jersey State Police in 1963. He had a reputation as a driven investigator and retired from the force a lieutenant colonel.
On the morning of September 11th 2001 Freddie was miles away from the WTC, but Morrone, who was Superintendent of Police for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, left the safety of his office in Jersey City and rushed to midtown Manhattan the moment he heard that a plane had crashed into the north tower.
No one who knew him was surprized that Freddie Morrone would jump right in, taking command of the rescue operation. Witnesses last put him on the 45th floor, heading upward, as he encouraged the employees on their way down.
Morrone spent most of his career as a New Jersey State Trooper. One of his last assignments as a State Trooper was assisting the FBI in the investigation of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
By the time he became head of the Port Authority three years later, Morrone, along with good friend Noel Cunningham, had been quietly campaigning for stricter maritime security measures. The two were worried about a group of Islamic radicals called "al Qaeda". As the memory of the 1993 attack faded in the minds of Americans, and while no further attacks took place on US soil, calls for greater security went unheard.
The Port Authority has 1,300 officers who patrol bridges, tunnels, airports, a bus terminal, marine terminals and the PATH rail system. The force is the 26th largest police department in the nation. Morrone is credited initiativing many improvements in security and efficiency within the Authority, most of which were the result of his concerns about terrorism. He created a residential training program at the Port Authority Police Academy. He toughened training standards for new recruits. He helped create the International School for Airport and Seaport Security, and implemented a program for training officers to use portable heart defibrillators. Morrone established bike patrols at airports, a scuba team, a Commercial Vehicle Inspection Unit, an Airborne Services Unit and a Motorcycle Unit.
His family has said in media interviews that Freddie was just learning to relax a little and play some golf. Beyond the job, they knew Mr.Morrone a guy who tried to get to 6:30 a.m. mass as often as he could, a man who demanded the most of himself while showing understanding for the frailties of others, a man who thought outside his own needs in order to fill the needs of family, friends or employees. He was quick to listen and deliberate in action.
Freddie Morrone's life and selfless actions on September 11th have been memorialized in tributes and awards.
The IAASP's Fred Morrone Education Fund
The New Jersey State Law Enforcement Purple Heart
A high-speed ferry was Christened in his name, in honour of the 36 Port Authority officers who died on 9/11.
The tributes to the dead of September 11, and the stories of the survivors, tell of men and women who achieved, who accomplished great and good things, who worked and succeeded. They are people whose lives did, and continue to make a positive difference in the world.
The hijackers didn't realize that it isn't how a person dies that makes him a hero or gives blessings, it's how a person lives. People like Freddie Morrone knew that, and lived it.