Pasquale "Bob" Morga was honored by the United States and...

Pasquale "Bob" Morga was honored by the United States and Korea for his bravery during the war. Credit: Korean War Legacy Foundation

I do long-distance lap swimming at 6 a.m. at the Brookhaven YMCA in Holtsville 3 or 4 days a week. I have been doing this for years and, after the swim workout, I relax in the sauna with a bunch of other swimmers. We range in age from our late 50s to 70.

We are retired teachers, cops, and I am retired from the FDNY. We have great discussions in the hot box. We talk politics, sports, solve the problems of the world, and cover just about every topic under the sun.

One guy in the group is older than us. His name is Bob Morga. Bob is 87 and is a little less talkative than we are — a quiet kind of fellow. We do know that he boxed as a young man, retired from the NYC Sanitation Department and is a Korean War veteran. With all that is going on with North Korea I started doing some research on the internet about Korea and for some reason Googled Bob’s name and discovered something quite remarkable about Bob. He is a war hero.

I came across an article called Korean War Veterans Digital Memorial. I discovered that Bob was the recipient of the Soldier’s Medal of Valor.

What I found in my research was this: Long ago, in a land that he had never heard of, for a people he had never known, Bob Morga saw his duty and did it.

Cpl. Morga, a member of an Army military police battalion, distinguished himself by heroic achievement in the vicinity of Ulsan, Korea. On June 29, 1952, when a large fire broke out at an ammunition storage railroad depot, Morga attempted to evacuate railroad cars loaded with highly explosive materials.

Flying shell fragments and exploding incendiary bombs prevented him from evacuating the cars, and noting that the fire was spreading toward other highly explosive materials stored nearby, he rushed to an adjacent village to alert the residents.

He ran door to door, ordering the inhabitants to leave the area and personally assisted confused women, children and old people to safety. His actions, at risk of his own life, were instrumental in saving countless persons from death and serious injury. The heroism exhibited by Cpl. Morga on this occasion reflects great credit on himself and the military service.

For this and by direction of the President of the United States, under provisions of the Act of Congress, Cpl. Pasquale G. Morga, in April 1953, was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for Valor for heroism.

I also found in my research that Bob also earned the Good Conduct Medal and the UN and Korean Service medals. I also read that in an interview a few years ago, Bob stated that what impacted him the most during the Korean War was how the children of Korea were always hungry and cold in the winter, and he tried his best to give them his rations and money when he could.

You never know in life who the real heroes are. They walk among us. They might even be sitting right next to you in the sauna at your YMCA.

— Kenneth Erb,


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