A Gift to the Harbor Light

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When the beloved Harbor Light restaurant finally reopens, it will have some very special items paying homage to the late Charlie Heeran, on its walls due to a tremendous effort by fellow rugby alumni, and the US Military.

Charlie Heeran was one of the many Rockaway residents killed on September 11, 2001. Heeran had attended Xavier High School and the University of Scranton, where he played rugby for both, so it was no surprise that Xavier and Scranton memorabilia had hung in the old Harbor Light, owned by the Heeran family. Additionally, after 9/11, fellow Scranton Rugby alum, Marine James T. Martin (aka Sharky) was fighting the war in Afghanistan in 2004.

Kevin Phelps, another friend of Heeran, reached out to Martin and asked him if he could put decals in memory of Heeran on missiles, to which Martin obliged, and took it a step further. “During that particular deployment, Sharky had two flags flown in memory of Charlie "Tuna' Heeran and Michael "Stitch" Costello (another Scranton graduate who perished in the towers).  Sharky sent the flags to me for distribution to the families in New York and Tennessee.  Additionally, I shipped a series of large Norseman decals to Sharky who placed them on bombs being deployed from Harriers and the USS Wasp. Pilot LTC. JR Lundy delivered the first round to the Taliban,” Phelps said.

Phelps gave the flag, along with a certificate, to the Heeran family, who hung it up in the Harbor Light. However, the school memorabilia, the flag and the certificate, were all destroyed when the Harbor Light went up in flames on October 29, 2012, the night of Hurricane Sandy.

With construction of the Harbor Light being close to finished, Heeran’s fellow alumni wanted to step up to the plate and replace what was lost. “I thought it would be nice to give the Heerans some Scranton Rugby memorabilia to put up in the restaurant since they lost everything,” Brendan Smith, of Breezy Point, who also attended Xavier and Scranton, said. Smith reached out the coach at Scranton, who was more than willing to help with the effort and Smith learned that Phelps also had something to give to the Heerans.

After Hurricane Sandy, in December 2012, Pilot Capt. JM Thompson delivered another series of Norsemen decal-covered bombs with Heeran’s name to the enemy. Martin had once again been deployed to Afghanistan. On January 19, 2013, he flew another flag over Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, in Heeran’s memory. He then sent the new flag and another certificate to Phelps so that he could pass it along to the Heeran family.

Phelps and Smith decided that the April 2017 Alumni Weekend for the University of Scranton Norsemen, would be the perfect opportunity to finally give the items to the Heerans. For the past four years, a senior on the team has received an award in honor of Charlie Heeran, at this event, so Heeran’s memory has constantly been kept alive. On Friday, April 28, Charlie Heeran’s sisters were given the new items to hang once the Harbor Light is open. “We had the honor of having Bernadette and Annemarie Heeran, and their husbands at our annual dinner. Kevin Phelps and myself gave the flag, certificate, and photos of the missiles to the Heerans. We also signed a Scranton Rugby jersey, which I will give them after we get it framed,” Smith said.

Smith and Phelps are excited to see the items return home. “I can't wait for Harbor Light to reopen,” Smith said.

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