Three-time Purple Heart recipient joins advocates welcoming American heroes to Atlantic County

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Submitted/Three-time Purple Heart recipient Marco Polo Smigliani, left, and Mike Merlino, co-host of the ‘Veterans Matters’ radio show and lead committee member of the Southern New Jersey Warfighter Sports fundraisers. Pictured in the back left is Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles. Submitted/Three-time Purple Heart recipient Marco Polo Smigliani, left, and Mike Merlino, co-host of the ‘Veterans Matters’ radio show and lead committee member of the Southern New Jersey Warfighter Sports fundraisers. Pictured in the back left is Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Egg Harbor Township resident Marco Polo Smigliani is the poster child for American patriotism. His business cards read simply: “American Patriot. Veterans Advocate.”

An Italian immigrant, Smigliani will proudly say that the greatest gift that he got from his parents, after life, was their bringing him to America when he was 10 years old. The Vietnam veteran and three-time Purple Heart recipient has been giving back to his homeland ever since.

Smigliani’s crusades to help veterans includes being part of an exhaustive list of veterans’ groups and charities including the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, the Atlantic County Veterans Advisory Board, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s South Jersey Veterans Committee, Vietnam Veterans of America, the Stockton College Student Veterans Advisory Board, and the American Legion. With his wife, Donna, he is also part of the Atlantic County Salute to the Armed Forces Parade Committee.

 “I am following a tradition that dates back to George Washington,” he said.

He has a new mission. He is part of the founding members of the Southern New Jersey Disabled Sports USA chapter (DSUSA) which is helping wounded veterans, all disabled and “Warfighters.”

Warfighter Sports is a program of DSUSA which offers sports rehabilitation programs in military hospitals and communities across the U.S. Advocates say the outcomes are life-changing.

“God saved me for a reason,” he said when reflecting on his near fatal service during Vietnam with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines in Dewey Canyon – the last major offensive by the United States in the Vietnam War.

Wounded critically four times, the Marine was part of the “Walking Dead” who count more than 800 names on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. He made a promise that if he made it out alive, he would make sure those men are never forgotten.

Every day, Marco Polo Smigliani advocates for America’s active duty military members.  He is quick to point out that, “we have about 3 million servicemen and women defending approximately 315 million people.”

He will continue to be the passionate voice for veterans that have fought for our freedom.

Smigliani will be putting that commitment into action as part of a group who will be honoring 25 wounded veterans that will be staying in Atlantic City from Sept. 24-26 with accommodations compliments of Tropicana Casino and Resort. 

There will be a welcome reception for the warriors on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at Boogie Nights Casino (donation $20).

The planned events are part of the kickoff for a Southern New Jersey chapter of Disabled Sports USA (dsusa.org) whose Warfighter Sports division takes the most severely disabled warriors and gets them into adaptive sports. The fundraisers planned are to provide golf clinics and adaptive equipment for the warriors. 

Thursday, Sept. 25 will be a semi-formal dinner at Mays Landing Country Club with guest speaker, Richard “Dick’ Macinko, author of “Rogue Warrior” and the first commander of Seal Team Six during the Vietnam War. Tickets are $125.

Friday, Sept. 26 there will be a golf outing, with a shot-gun start at 8 a.m. at Mays Landing Country Club. A $125 donation per person includes an awards luncheon.

For more information on participating or sponsoring a warrior, contact Donna Clementoni at 410 812-6677 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Donna Clementoni is director of employer outreach for the New Jersey Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.


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