A Tribute To A Fallen Hero

His name was Joseph Anthony Morabito and he died in Afghanistan seven years ago today, two days shy of his 55th birthday. He was serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Paktika Province as a Law Enforcement Professional (LEP) training Afghan police officers. Killed alongside him was Army Lt. Col. Todd Clark. They were both New Yorkers. They were shot to death by an Afghan man wearing an Afghan National Army (ANA) uniform at an ANA training base.

I met Joe in 2008 in predeployment training for the Haiti mission.We were both hired by PAE as police advisors for the Haitian National Police. PAE was the contractor for the State Department that hired police advisors for Haiti and Liberia, and we would ultimately be seconded to the United Nations as civilian police officers training the HNP. Joe served his year in Hinche, which is in the central plateau of Haiti and I stayed in Port-au-Prince.

He was a jovial guy with a wonderful sense of humor and a friendly, sincere personality that made a person want to spend time around him. He had a great attitude about life in general. He filled me in on his law enforcement career which spanned three decades in The Bronx and West Point. He had already served one year in Iraq as a police advisor and was looking forward to being a little closer to home. The flight from Port-au-Prince to JFK was about four hours.

He liked weightlifting and an occasional beer, but his real love was his wife and children. He talked about them constantly and he had a deep regard and admiration of them. Where the rest of us would be in the bar for happy hour after a long day of training, Joe was lifting weights and then back in his room to spend time on the phone with his family.

I saw him just a few times during that year, usually crossing paths at contingent meetings or when he popped into PAP to catch an R&R flight back home. After his time in Haiti ended he went back to Iraq as an investigator. His job there was to assist the U.S. Army in finding and arresting those planting IEDs and engaged in any other terrorist activity. He did two tours in Iraq. One of his passions was cooking Italian food for the soldiers he served with. After two years in Iraq he accepted the position in Afghanistan.

He closed every email with the same quote, and it pretty much summed up everything he stood for: "In the beginning of a change, the Patriot is a scarce man, Brave, Hated, and Scorned. When his cause succeeds however,

the timid join him, For then it costs nothing to be a Patriot."


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J.R. Lonsway served 22 years with the Las Cruces, New Mexico, police department and retired as a Deputy Chief of Police. After retirement he served with the U.S. Department of State as a police advisor in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Liberia, Haiti, Lebanon, and South Sudan. He is a former U.S. Marine.

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