Disabled Marine Gets Hero’s Welcome in Charlestown

After traveling through such remote places as Stillwell, KS, Gunnison, CO and Damascus, VA, Toran Gaal – a double amputee Marine Corps Veteran – hand cycled into the Charlestown Navy Yard and the Charlestown Police Station on July 22 to a warm welcome that was well deserved.

 There to meet him was a host of Boston Police Officers, including Commissioner William Evans and Chief William Gross – as well at National Parks Supt. Michael Creasey.

“At Boston city limits–seems like the entire force showed up,” said Gaal in a statement. “Thank you, Officer John Quinn, for all your hard work putting this amazing day together.”

The Boston Police Department had the honor of escorting Toran Gaal, a double amputee Marine Corp Veteran, into the City of Boston as he continues to hand-cycle across the country. When he arrived at BPD District A-15 (Charlestown), the BPPA canteen truck was there to greet him with refreshments, the Citywide Bicycle Unit, Bomb Squad, and K9 Units.

Police Officer John Quinn spearheaded the organization of Gaal’s welcome and spent several hours with him.

Gaal began his ride on June 1, 2015 in San Diego, CA to benefit the Semper Fi Foundation and, after the outpouring of support he received during the 2014 Boston Marathon, he decided to stop in Boston on Day 52 of his ride across the country. The Boston Police Department coordinated a motorcycle patrol unit escort into the city, and Gaal was welcomed into Charlestown by two Boston Fire Ladders, the BPD City Wide Bicycle Unit, Bomb Squad, K-9 Unit, patrol officers, the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association food truck, Boston EMS, and Massachusetts State Police officers.

Gaal has been an inspiring story for many as he has travelled across the country over the last two months – from lonely truck drivers at rest stops in remote areas of Utah to teaming groups of fans and law enforcement such as in the Navy Yard.

Originally adopted as an orphan from a home in India as an infant, Gaal has lived in California most of his life.

After high school, he received a full basketball scholarship to the University of Dayton, where he played for two years. However, during that time, he felt the call to join the Marines to fight terrorism and he did just that.

His first tour was in Iraq in 2007 and he was singled out for distinguished service on numerous occasions.

On June 26, 2011, tragedy struck as an IED exploded under him while he was serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

He has no recollection of the explosion, but it maimed him terribly.

He lost both legs above the knee, broke his pelvis, fractured his skull, and severed his chest. His chances at survival were slim, but his chances to hand-cycle across America and walk on special prosthetics were unthinkable.

He has done both.

Officially, Gaal has travelled through California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

He is currently continuing his journey towards Washington, D.C. On Aug. 3, he plans to end his ride in Arlington, VA at the Iwo Jima Memorial. He will place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then contemplate his next adventure.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans greets Gaal in the Navy Yard.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans greets Gaal in the Navy Yard.

“It is easy to see the negative,” Gaal wrote on his blog while in Charlestown. “We see it all around us every day in the media, on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But, America is a great country full of so many bright lights that can provide inspiration and hope; you just have to look for it. When you come across stories like this, take a minute. Read them, feel them and remember what makes the USA the best.”

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