Several Nanuet residents on Edsall Avenue and Sherwood Drive received an unexpected knock on their front door over the past weekend. Debbie and Rich Strathy of Edsall Avenue were on their front steps with a plan.
After going to all their neighbors and sending out an email blast, their plan worked. Dozens of neighbors lined the two residential streets with signs and flags on Sunday morning.
The Strathy’s next door neighbor, Tom Hanney, was leaving that morning to be sworn in as a United States Marine. The neighborhood came out to congratulate him and wish him luck as Hanney, 20, drove by escorted by police and fire vehicles.
“I didn’t know they were doing this. It was a complete surprise,” said Hanney of the Strathy’s plan.
"We were overcome with emotion. We were very surprised," added his mother Marykay.
Both his parents joined Hanney on his trip. He will be sworn in on Monday in Albany.
"We're very proud. This is something he always wanted to do," said Hanney's father Thomas. "He went to Wagner College on a football scholarship, but he always had this calling to serve. We support him 100 percent."
After two years at Wagner, Hanney made a decision to sign up at a recruiting office.
"I was just tired of sitting around and wanted to do something I could be proud of," said Hanney. "I'm really excited and can't wait. My family is very supportive of me."
After signing up, Hanney went through a medical, physical, psychological and written examinations. He had to reach a certain weight based off of his height so he lost 15 pounds.
Hanney’s father Thomas added that he's a retired NYPD detective and that September 11th had a huge effect on Hanney.
"Becoming a Marine is something I always wanted to do. 9/11 was a big influence and made me very patriotic," said Hanney. "The Marines branch has a whole mystique about them and made me want to join."
After he’s sworn in, he'll fly straight to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Paris Island in North Carolina. There he'll go through 13 weeks of boot camp followed by two weeks leave.
During those two weeks, his family plans to visit him before he heads to infantry school for three months, followed by Recon school.
Hanney was recommended to look into recon school, which is similar to Special Forces, said Thomas Hanney. "He will then go where they tell him to go, whether it's staying here in the U.S. or going to Afghanistan.”
His graduation is in October. Hanney is not the first one in his family to serve for his country. His grandfather on his father's side is an Army veteran who served in WWII and his mother's brother was also a Marine.
"(With veterans in the family,) it makes me even more patriotic and I want to be a part of something special,” said Hanney.
“I’m impressed the community came out to support the servicemen who give themselves to the country and fight for our freedoms,” said Hanney’s grandfather, also named Thomas Hanney. “He’s young, aggressive and a true American. We’re very proud. He’s a great athelete and this is what he’s always wanted.”
Hanney is a known name in Nanuet because of his leadership as the captain and quarterback of the Nanuet football team in 2009 when Nanuet made it to the NYS championship game. He has two younger brothers, both proud of him, Kyle 18 and Ryan 16.