For many of us, the events of September 11th, 2001 will forever be etched into our minds and hearts. The magnitude and severity of the sacrifices made that day by the FDNY as well as the NYPD, EMS and PAPD and numerous other first responders uphold the tradition, beliefs, values and ideals that the Fire, Rescue, EMS and Law Enforcement professions embrace. The tragic loss of lives, the promise of the future; the unfulfilled opportunities and contributions that were yet to be recognized or made by many of those killed and the subsequent loss of completing life’s journey with their families, loved ones and comrades further magnifies the senselessness and grief many of us share to this day.
FDNY Assistant Chief Gerard Barbara , the Citywide Tour Commander on the morning of September 11th whose image was profoundly captured standing in the street within the shadow of the twin towers moments before the first collapse provides a poignant reminder of our sworn duty, obligation and responsibilities as firefighters, and the honor of our proud tradition that compells us to do what we do each and every day, on the job.
I’m reposting an article that I had written within the subsequent days of September 11th, 2001 that was published shortly thereafter. It’s difficult to put into perspective and think that ten years have passed, when it seems like only yesterday. Each and everyone of us can recall the vivid emotions and sentiments that were present in such a raw manner on that day and in the days and weeks that followed. And how, now at the ten year anniversary we can reflected on where we’ve been in our own personal journeys, and what the last ten years have given us and what it has done to the fire service in that time frame.
There have been changes, both positive and negative; but change none the less. Each of us has grown older, hopefully wiser and broadened our perspective on the job, who we are, our families and loved ones and remembrance for those we lost on 9|11 and in the preceeding ten years.
This is why we must remember, this is why we must never forget.
(originally written and published September, 2001)
Honor and Remembrance 2001-2011
Tuesday September 11th (2001) began unremarkably like many others. I began my instructional delivery of a course of instruction on Incident Command Management for Structural Collapse Rescue Operations as part of the National Fire Academy’s field delivery programs in Ft. Myers, Florida. The class was comprised of Special Operations Battalion Chiefs, Command and Line Officers from throughout the region. As we began our discussion on the needs for urban search and rescue preparedness and its relationship to strategic incident command management and tactical company level capabilities, the Ft. Myers Chief of Department came into the classroom and directed us immediately to the station day room. The time was 08:55 hours, and so began our journey.
The class immediately became transfixed upon the televised images streaming before us. The live coverage of the evolving sequence of events, the fire and emergency services responses and the devastation inflicted both in New York City and later in Washington, D.C., and the realization that this was a terrorist attack. For the next three hours we watched in disbelief the unfolding events in New York City at the World Trade Center, each of us fully realizing the magnitude and severity of the incident and the impact inflicted upon the fire, rescue, ems and law enforcement personnel operating at the scene.
The transmission of Manhattan Box 55-8087 to the World Trade Center Towers brought New York City’s Bravest and Finest. We witnessed the evolving events of the initial high-rise fires in WTC Tower #1, the vivid images of the second aircraft impacting WTC Tower #2 and shortly thereafter, the horrendous collapse of both towers.
We watched in silence, fully cognizant of the potential toll the resulting collapses could have on the operating personnel and civilians alike. Following numerous telephone calls home and to my fire station, with the impending arrangements and planning being undertaken for our fire department’s possible deployment to NYC, I began a twenty-two hour trek back home. The journey back was consumed with the constant reports filtering through the radio speakers of the ever increasing descriptions of the magnitude and levels of destruction at what has become known as Ground Zero.
The turnpikes I traveled were filled with the passing images of the initial public outpouring of emotions to the day’s tragic events. Lone individuals on overpasses and bridges, waving our nation’s flag. The flags drawn to half staff throughout the communities I passed through and the electronic message boards along the highway, with words of condolence and encouragement in this time of national grief. Still in my Fire Academy shirt with the embroidered words of the NFA and Structural Collapse, I was recognized as a firefighter and approached by numerous people along my route back who questioned the events of the day, who were seeking some sense of understanding for what was becoming recognized as a significant loss of life to unaccounted for fire, rescue, law enforcement and civilians.
There were the unsolicited words of thanks expressed by people at gas pumps and rest areas up the entire east coast, who acknowledged my fire service affiliation and connected to what they may have seen or heard in terms of the of the missing F.D.N.Y. firefighters and N.Y.P.D. law enforcement officers. This level of acknowledgement, seemed so strange, when any other time, we seem to blend into the back ground of everyday life. All for having a fire service emblem on.
During my travel back to Syracuse, New York I listened to every report, every update and the ever increasing numbers of potential missing on the radio. Well after midnight I ran into a colleague of mine at a gas station, an Assistant Fire Chief from the Metro Dade Fire & Rescue Department, Florida who, along with four other urban search and rescue specialists were making their way to Washington, D.C. as part of the deployed FEMA USAR Task Force Team from South Florida. We shared in our grief over the immediate notification at a mayoral press briefing that our close friend FDNY Battalion Chief Ray Downey was identified as one of three chief FDNY Officers who died during the tower collapses.
We also shared in our grief in the initial reports of the over forty FDNY fire, rescue and support companies unaccounted for as a result of the fire suppression, rescue and collapse efforts. The continuing ride gave way to the thoughts and concerns of many of my friends within the FDNY. Were they on shift, are they accounted for, are they safe? I thought about everything that we have tried to prepare for, the years of developing our national urban search and rescue task force system, collapse-rescue training, terrorism preparedness and the images of the WTC events of the morning. I thought deeply of my twenty-six years of fire service involvement, my brother & sister firefighters, and again- the fate of my FDNY brothers and sisters in New York City.
Subsequently in the days that followed, I became glued to the live televised images from Ground Zero and ever increasing reports of the search and rescue efforts deployed at the incident scene. As I watched alone into the early morning hours the images pouring across my television screen or at the fire station with my brother and sister firefighters, I began to contemplate the journey that lay ahead for our nation’s fire and emergency services. We will be forever changed by the events of 9-11. The most recent accounts have identified over three hundred thirty seven confirmed or unaccounted for firefighters, twenty-three law enforcement officers and over five thousand four hundred missing civilians. Rescue efforts remain the focus, with the realization that the probability of live rescues diminishes with each passing hour as the first week of Herculean efforts draws to a close.
The fabric that binds us within the fire and emergency services, the true bonds of brother and sisterhood in this proudest of professions can not be more poignantly depicted than the image of the three brother FDNY firefighters raising the American flag amidst the mountains of rubble and debris where once stood the World Trade Center. Each and every one of us understands the undertakings during the initial stages of operations at the WTC. We, the fire and emergency service providers protect the heart and soul of our respective communities. We understand the risks and challenges affecting our commitment to protect life and property and to meet those challenges armed with our training, preparedness and tools of our trade. We are the first ones in and the last ones out. The challenges ahead will be immense as the rescue efforts at Ground Zero evolve into the recovery mode of operation, and the continued efforts to bring home- back to quarters these missing firefighters.
In the days, weeks and months ahead, we will be witness to ever changing events in this continuing journey. We will share in the pain, grief and emotions that have become so deeply rooted inside of all of us in the course of these events in NYC and in our nations’ capital. For those who provided direct or support service to the events at the WTC, and those who may yet be called upon to render aide in the weeks and months ahead, each of us understands the calling and we also understand the pain. For each and everyone firefighter, rescue and ems provider would, if they could, would be side by side with those working at Ground Zero.
We must remain vigilant to our own community’s risk potential for future events and incidents and must strive to reduce the gap between our capabilities and those identified deficiencies. We must plan and train for the worst, for it’s not a matter of IF , it’s just a matter of WHEN. Our nation’s fire and emergency services have begun a journey, one that no one could have imagined, yet one that each will meet head- on. Remain safe, stay strong, and meet the challenges of your next alarm, with faith and the foundation of principles that have made our fire services what they are. We are all part of a brotherhood, we share a common belief and mission-we know our duty, we are firefighters, and will answere the call. (Original written and publication; September, 2001)
Remember and honor the sacrifices of September 1th, 2001 and the continuing sacrifices that are being made today by those fire, law enforcement and emergency services workers, support personnel and civilians that worked the recovery efforts at Ground Zero in the weeks and months afterwards who are dying or are afflicted by the lingering effects of exposures at the site and the area.
Remember the surviving families of those lost, remember the firefighters; who they were and remember who we are, and what we do each and every day in the streets of America. May We Never Forget.
Honor and Remembrance 343…the 2,164 civilians and others who lost their lives at the WTC Towers One and Two and let us remember the 184 civilians, military and other personnel from the Pentagon and the 40 civilians and crew from United Flight 93 and Shanksville
FDNY 9|11 Memorial Page with Links to each of the 343 Firefighters, HERE
FDNY Video 9|11 Video Tribute, HERE
The 343 FDNY Firefighters killed on September 11, 2001 during operations at the World Trade Center
This list originally compiled by Don Van Holt, NYFD.com
A Memorial Wall listing the names of 55 FDNY members who died in the last 10 years due to World Trade Center-related illnesses was unveiled at FDNY Headquarters on Sept. 8. (HERE)
The inscription on the Memorial Wall reads, “DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO BRAVELY SERVED THIS DEPARTMENT PROTECTING LIFE AND PROPERTY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK IN THE RESCUE AND RECOVERY EFFORT AT MANHATTAN BOX 5-5-8087 WORLD TRADE CENTER.”
The names included:
Firefighter Robert W. Dillon, Engine Co. 153
Firefighter Vanclive A. Johnson, Ladder Co. 135
Firefighter Russell C. Brinkworth, Ladder Co. 135
Firefighter Edward V. Tietjen, Ladder Co. 48
Firefighter Walter Voight, Ladder Co. 144
Battalion Chief Kevin R. Byrnes, Battalion 7
Firefighter Stephen M. Johnson, Ladder Co. 25
Lieutenant Richard M. Burke, Engine Co. 97
Firefighter Michael Sofia, Engine Co. 165
Firefighter Joseph P. Costello, Battalion Co. 58
Firefighter William R. O’Connor, Ladder Co. 84
Lieutenant Reinaldo Natal, Field Communications Unit
Paramedic Deborah Reeve, EMS Station 20
Fire Marshal William Wilson, Jr., Manhattan Base
Lieutenant Thomas J. Hodges, Engine Co. 313
Firefighter Robert J. Wieber, Engine Co. 262
Lieutenant Joseph P. Colleluori, Jr., Engine Co. 324
Firefighter Michael J. Shagi, Engine Co. 74
Firefighter William R. St. George, Batallion Special Operations Command
Firefighter Raymond W. Hauber, Engine Co. 284
EMS Lieutenant Brian Ellicott, EMS Dispatch
Firefighter William E. Moreau, Engine Co. 166
Lieutenant John P. Murray, Engine Co. 165
Firefighter Sean M. McCarthy, Engine Co. 280
Firefighter Bruce M. Foss, Ladder Co. 108
Firefighter Jacques W. Paultre, Engine Co. 50
Firefighter Kevin M. Delano, Sr., Ladder Co. 142
Lieutenant Vincent J. Tancredi, II, Ladder Co. 47
Paramedic Clyde F. Sealey, Bureau of Health Services
Firefighter Timothy G. Lockwood, Engine Co. 275
Firefighter Edward F. Reilly, Jr., Ladder Co. 160
Firefighter John F. McNamara, Engine Co. 234
Lieutenant Thomas G. Roberts, Ladder Co. 40
Captain Kevin J. Cassidy, Engine Co. 320
Firefighter Joan R. Daley, Engine Co. 63
Firefighter Richard A. Manetta, Ladder Co. 156
Lieutenant Peter J. Farrenkopf, Marine Co. 6
Battalion Chief John J. Vaughan, Battalion Co. 3
Firefighter Robert A. Ford, Engine Co. 284
Paramedic Carene A. Brown, EMS Bureau of Training
Firefighter James J. Ryan, Ladder Co. 167
Lieutenant Robert M. Hess, Ladder Co. 76
EMT Freddie Rosario, EMS Station 4
Lieutenant Harry Wanamaker, Jr., Marine Co. 1
Supv. Commun. Electrician Philip J. Berger, Outside Plant Operations
Firefighter Vincent J. Albanese, Ladder Co. 38
Firefighter John P. Sullivan, Jr., Ladder Co. 34
Firefighter Roy W. Chelsen, Engine Co. 28
Firefighter John F. O’Neill, Ladder Co. 52
Lieutenant Randy J. Wiebicke, Ladder Co. 1
Firefighter Brian C. Malloy, Ladder Co. 80
Lieutenant John A. Garcia, Ladder Co. 5
Firefighter Anthony J. Nuccio, Ladder Co. 175
Fire Marshal Steven C. Mosiello, Chief of Department’s Office
Firefighter Carl Capobianco, Ladder Co. 87