A retired gunnery sergeant’s volunteerism and attention to wounded warriors recovering in the capital region earned him a distinguished civilian humanitarian award at the Pentagon Oct. 30.
Mario Monaco, a retired gunnery sergeant, accepted the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award, which honors exceptional patriotism and humanitarian concern for service members.
Monaco, who chairs the Lance Cpl. Chris Cosgrove III chapter of the Marines Helping Marines program, a Marine Corps League charity, makes monthly visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.
His humanitarian efforts were a way to say, “Hey Marine, we’re here for you,” said Monaco.
For the past five years, Monaco and others from a Marine detachment at Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, N.J., have been making the monthly trips to the hospitals, bringing with them gift cards, T-shirts, coins and blankets to give the war’s wounded.
“(Monaco) has been an exceptionally active participant in our base and local communities,” said Picatinny commanding general Army Brig. Gen. William Phillips. “He continues to be a caring, compassionate member of our community, helping Marines and all service members, active and retired.”
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter presented Monaco a certificate and medallion. A trophy on permanent display at the Pentagon now includes Monaco on its list of names. The award was established in 1996 by the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Monaco and the other Marines from the Detachment renamed their chapters’ Marines Helping Marines program in honor of Lance Cpl. Chris Cosgrove III, who actively participated in the program. A suicide bomber killed Cosgrove Oct. 1, 2006, in Iraq’s Anbar province.