Boy dreamed of becoming pilot

Matthew Ray Moreno, an 11-year-old boy who aspired to be the first autistic fighter pilot, was laid to rest on August 4, 2018 with full military honors.

His mother, Diana Morris, recently spoke about her son’s death, as he approached his first day at Hughes Middle School.

He was concerned about a new school and the possibility of bullying because he had experienced it in the fifth grade, his mom said.

Children often don’t understand their classmates and take issue with those that appear to be different.

And, Matthew was a special boy with his own unique talents.  

He was “Mattie” to his family and friends and it is apparent that he lived his exuberant life out loud.

This young man was diagnosed as an autistic savant around four years of age. His entire family participated in Mattie’s daily adventures whether digging fox holes in the yard or biking around the neighborhood.

Autistic children have triggers and behaviors that mystify most people and in Mattie’s case it manifested in the occasional outburst generally as a result of a loud noise or from sheer enthusiasm for a topic discussed in class.

He had a great capacity for absorbing information on the subjects of his choosing.

His interests ranged from identifying and explaining all types of dinosaurs, sharks and his constant passion for all things military, especially military aircraft.

He loved and strongly identified with the men and women in uniform.

It was not unusual for his mother to find him reading aircraft manuals late into the night. Going to bed was out of the question until he had finished reading the manual. Autistic children often have trouble abandoning tasks once they have taken them up.

Family friend, Sheldon Peacock of the Mansfield Police Department, Dan Lombardo with 22 Kill, an organization dedicated to helping veterans with PTSD, and Erika Karpinski helped arrange the military funeral and provided support to the family.

Two hundred motorcycles escorted the small casket on a sidecar to Skye Memorial Gardens where the newly appointed United States Naval Captain Moreno was buried. A trumpeter played Taps and a flag was presented to his mother.

He leaves behind his parents, Diana and James Morris, older brother, Daniel, younger brother, Brantley and sister, Sophia.

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