The Massachusetts Fallen Heroes are fighting back.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bay State has lost 170 heroes in the global war on terror, according to Dan Magoon, president and founder of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes. Next Tuesday, 20 veterans of the US armed services, law enforcement, and firefighters (including Boston Marathon first responders) will lace up the gloves in the “Fight for the Fallen” boxing card, proceeds of which will help create a permanent memorial in Boston to honor the fallen men and women and establish a support network for their families.
The fisticuffs will begin at Hynes Auditorium at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $30; VIP tickets are $100. Visit www.massfallenheroes.org for more information.
The local heroes have been training in sweaty gyms — punching bags, skipping rope, and sparring against each other — for weeks. They removed their mouthguards long enough to voice their thoughts on their mission and why they are supporting the cause.
■ Dan McMorrow, Boston Police officer and US Marine Corps, served in Iraq:
“It’s good that Iraq is in the rearview mirror. It’s going to be great when Afghanistan is in the rearview mirror, but up until that happens, we still can’t let our guard down, just like here. You can’t let it down here. You can’t let it down there.
“I’m doing this because being a US Marine and a Boston Police officer and American, I’m very, very proud of the mission at hand. I was privileged to serve over there in Iraq two times with the Marine Corps. I’ve always been a supporter of Mass. Fallen Heroes, and this tattoo on my arm has an 11 — that’s for the 11 guys we lost in my battalion in my first tour in Iraq, so it’s important to me to get involved in it.
“I continue to serve my city. I’m too old for the Marine Corps but not too old to box. When they said there was a boxing event, the adrenaline junkie in me just wanted to get involved in it. I’ll be hitting my 50th birthday, and to raise some money for the event, it’s a win-win for me and for everybody involved.”
■ Sean Milliken, 31, Boston firefighter (Ladder One) and US Navy, twice deployed off Iran, Iraq, and Somalia:
“I was stationed on a guided missile destroyer, the USS Ramage out of Norfolk, Va. The worst part was probably just being at sea for 50 days straight in the Middle East.
“I’m doing it for all the guys that died in Iraq and Afghanistan that are from the Commonwealth, and for the Marathon bombing victims and my brother and all the guys on active duty. “
■ Dan Corey, Boston firefighter (Ladder 24) and US Marine Corps, served in Iraq in 2005 and 2007.
“Any highway there is a highway of death. 2005 was a lot worse. Stuff was a lot crazier. The worst day was when we lost guys. That’s it. Suicide bombers. I don’t want to get into all the details, but we lost Marines.
“Everyone mourns, but there’s really nothing you can do. You’re still there. You keep your mind off of it, [but] it will stay with you for the rest of your life. The worst thing you can do is bottle it up. I learned to talk to people about it and get it all out. I learned and I’m doing pretty good.
“I love the sport of boxing. Just doing this little bit shows you how much I respect the sport. It’s great. Just the dedication, the training. I mean, it sucks at first because you get your head punched in in the ring. It gets frustrating. It doesn’t matter how big or how strong or how quick you think you are.”
■ Jeremiah Foley, Boston firefighter (Tower Ladder 10) and US Marines, served two tours in Afghanistan:
“I don’t talk about it. Most Americans don’t understand about it. Americans are at the mall, so they don’t understand. They weren’t there.
“Boxing is an art. You’re moving at different angles with your footwork. A street fight is furious and there’s no art to it. A lot of dudes can bang but they’d get [messed] up in the ring. It’s a great workout.
“I think it’s a great cause. It’s a way to remember all my friends who can’t be here anymore or are [missing] legs and upper limbs. So this is a piece that I can give back to them.”
■ Lt. Paul McCarthy, Massachusetts State Police:
“The gym I work out in is the same gym Bomber No. 1 worked out in. I was familiar with him. I’ve done a little sparring with him. He’s not a good person — I knew that before — just very standoffish and abrasive. Unfriendly.
“He was respectful in the ring. He could’ve really hurt me, he’s that good. He had a shot at the Olympics.
“I wasn’t fond of him. It seemed like he had a lot of time to train. I’m in there various hours with my busy schedule and he’s in there all the time. Of course, I had to earn my money and he’s got it given to him. So who wouldn’t be good if you could train 6-8 hours a day? But that’s the system we live in, I guess.’’
■ Robert Flynn, US Marine Corps, served two tours in Afghanistan:
“The hottest days there were the worst. One day it was 130 degrees. I’m walking around carrying 80 pounds of gear, patrolling anywhere from 3-10 miles. We drank a lot of hot water. We had no refrigerators out there so we would bury our water in the dirt and try and keep it temperate at least. We were out in the sun all day, scorching hot.
“I’m fighting for all the men and women in Massachusetts who have fallen for our country. The bombings break my heart. I’d do anything to go back. I’d fight more to protect our country. Do whatever I could to keep this from happening ever again.”
■ Bill Bulger, Milton Police officer:
“The soldiers have been forgotten because [the wars] have been going on for so long. [People] are more apt to freak out when it happens in their neck of the woods, in their backyard, in your backyard.
“But you can’t forget about it. I don’t. Every time I hear of a soldier getting killed, I take a moment of silence, pause myself, and think about it.
“I’m happy to provide some entertainment for some soldiers who did so much for us. It’s the least I can do to say thank you and raise some money for a good cause.”
Stan Grossfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.