Monday, November 8, 2010

Today We Remember Lt. Mike Warchola, Ladder Co. 5

Today we remember Lieutenant Mike Warchola, Ladder Co. 5, FDNY.

On September 11, 2001 Mike was 51. Two shifts separated Mike from retirement and a trip to Australia when he sped to the WTC on Sept. 11 with Ladder Co. 5.  The final 24-hour shift of his 24-year career would have ended less than a week later. His paperwork was done and his plans were set.

Lt. Mike Warchola and his Ladder 5 crew were assisting a civilian who was having chest pains on the stairway landing on the 12th floor of the North Tower.  Immediately following the collapse of the South Tower, Fellow Fireman Chief Jay Jonas decided to evacuate and was helping a civilian back down the stairs when he saw Mike. "Mike, let's go, it's time to go!", Jay said. "It's OK, Jay, you have your civilian; we have ours. We will be right behind you."

Shortly thereafter, the North Tower collapsed.

Miraculously, 14 people survived the collapse in the B Stairwell of the North Tower. Joe Jonas was one of them. As he found himself in a pile of rubble, amongst a bed of twisted steel and debris, he heard over his radio the final mayday call for Lt. Mike Warchola. "Mayday Mayday Mayday. This is the officer of Ladder Company 5. I'm in the B stairway on the 12th floor. I'm trapped and I'm hurt bad." Jonas had no way to get to Mike. He gave out his third Mayday and that was the last they heard from Mike.

Mike Warchola is remembered for being quiet in words and strong in actions.  He was a unique, extremely intelligent and very interesting man. He had an inexhaustive curiosity about the world we live in, and a unique perception about life. He was very well-read and loved to travel to the sometimes obscure places he'd read about. Mike loved his children with his very being and took an active part in their lives and future.

He made elaborate drawings of Venus Flytraps and he kept a Godzilla poster on his wall.  He loved to paint.

On the Friday following September 11, Mike Warchola's body was found in a stairwell of the crumbled tower along with a young woman he was apparently trying to rescue.

Mike's friend Ellen remembers him:
I miss my friend Mike. He had a strong and independent mind, loved experiencing the physical world, understood much about evil, he was sometimes reticent, but that was OK. He was a wacky and wonderful Warchola. His love for his children Amy and Aaron was in his core. He was devoted to Ladder 5. I liked knowing he was around. He said we'd be friends for life. I am so sad he is not here.

We Will Never Forget!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Today We Remember Moira Smith

Today we remember Police Officer Moira Smith, 13th Precinct, NYPD. She was a member of the New York Police Department for 13 years.

Moira was only the second policewoman killed in the line of duty in the history of the New York Police Department.
She had been working in the Manhattan Police Station when the planes struck the World Trade Center and she rushed down to the scene voluntarily. She didn’t have to go down there that day, she chose to go.

On a number of occasions she was seen coming out of the World Trade Center, carrying people out, then going back in. 

Many witnesses remember being escorted out of the building by Moira who calmly ordered the streaming mass of people off of the escalator and out of the lobby, not allowing them to stop to look at the destruction and horror of bodies and debris outside, preventing a jam.

She was captured by a news photographer helping a bleeding man out of the burning south tower and heard over her police radio directing people to safety.

Moments later the tower collapsed and she was killed, along with her police partner Robert Fazio.

Charles Barbuti, a lieutenant in the 13th Precinct and Smith's friend, says he would describe Moira as active, dedicated, courageous. 

Every time Moira’s husband, Jim Smith, looks at their daughter Patricia, he sees the spirit of Moira. In a touching scene in December of 2001, the then 2-year-old ittle girl, dressed in a red velvet dress, accompanied her father onto the stage of Carnegie Hall to accept the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest accolades, for her mother.

Jim remembers a woman who above all loved to travel and experience the world to the full. He remembers that she ran with the bulls in Spain, played roulette in Monte Carlo and rode a camel in North Africa. But she loved nothing better than to drag friends and family off on trips around the U.S. in her Winnebago van. 

Moira Smith ran into the south tower because she believed a "life lived in the service of others was the only one worth living," her heartbroken husband says. "I am grateful to have our child to raise, helping her to understand that her mother was and still is the pride of New York City.”

“If Moira was here, she'd be protecting the people of the city she loved, defending the nation she loved and keeping it from harm. But most importantly, she would be about the business of living."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Today We Remember Sean Patrick Tallon

Today we remember Sean Patrick "Charger" Tallon, 26-years-old, Ladder Co. 10.

Sean had only a month or so left of being a "probie" (a probationary firefighter). He was one of the first responders, along with the other members of Ten House. Their station was right across the street from the World Trade Center. On the way up the stairs of Tower One, Sean helped a fellow firefighter that was having a heart attack, and then he continued up with two more of his fellow firemen. They were trapped when Tower One collapsed.

Sean was a reservist in the United States Marine Corps, a former emergency medical technician and a probationary firefighter with Ladder Company 10 just a few weeks away from the end of his training. He was tough.
He loved to play the button accordion. He would bring out his instrument and play Irish favorites for relatives at family gatherings, with his sister on the piano accordion. But he rarely played for friends; some of them didn't even know he could play an instrument.

When he left for work from his home on Sept. 11, headed for the fire station that was among the first to respond to the trade center attack, he seemed in a buoyant mood. 

Sean had recently told his mother that he was ready to find Mrs. Right. He said that would be his next mission. His probie year was almost finished and he wanted to start with the rest of his life. He had just blossomed.

A touching note left on Sean Tallon's Memorial wall September 11, 2006:

I knew Sean from Fordham Prep, I graduated in '94 after Sean. I remember him playing football. I am in the Army now and in 2003 I deployed to Afghanistan. I took Sean's memorial bracelet with me and left it in one of the caves just before I left. I will never forget.
C co. 1-501 PIR, 4th BRG 25th IN
~Amal Agalawatta, Ft. Richardson, Alaska

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Asia Cottom

Today we remember Asia Cottom, 11-years-old.

Asia Cottom was with 11-year-old companions Rodney Dickens and Bernard Brown on AA Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.

Her last project at school was to list her role models and best friends. For her heroes, she listed her parents. She listed her brother as one of her best friends. And on her list of great singers, she listed her mother. For Asia, family was at the top of her list.

She was extremely excited about her four-day National Geographic adventure. She was one of three exceptional middle-school students headed for a four-day educational adventure to the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary off the California coast, accompanied by their teachers. She had spent days on the computer on the internet learning about the National Geographic Society, its projects, marine biology and research, and Pacific ecosystems.

Asia was a real charmer who was trying hard to grow up. She had a talent for science and math and dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. She also enjoyed dancing and jumping rope double-Dutch style. At times it was a challenge to keep Asia busy and her teachers looked for extra opportunities to expand her horizons. Her math and science magnet school had state-of-art computer equipment and technology. Asia had special computer skills and wanted her classmates to learn as much as she did about computers. She loved to learn and was off to a great start at her first year in middle school.

Asia's mom talks about her little girl:

"Asia, the little girl with the infectious grin. She loved to laugh, she loved to smile, she loved people and she loved God. She loved girl things like Tweety Bird and Barbies, jump ropes and purses, and she had wisdom beyond her years. She was everything a mom could hope for in a child. I miss her every minute."

Asia was decked in her "Tweety gear" upon boarding her flight.

Alan Rockline of Olney, MD, left a personal promise to Asia her memorial page:

"Dear Asia, Your picture is on our fridge. I just tried to explain 9-11 to my 7 year old. She doesn't understand. I promise to take her to your bench at the Pentagon, and I also promise that she will know you."

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Bernard Curtis Brown II

Today we remember 11-year-old Bernard Curtis Brown II of Washington, D.C., who was aboard American Flight 77 on Sept. 11.

Bernard was one of three exceptional middle-school students headed for a four-day educational adventure to the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary off the California coast, accompanied by their teachers. Each youngster was a star student. This unique adventure was a reward for that. They had a schedule full of exciting things to do: A boat trip to search for marine mammals and seabirds; the island hike to study native and introduced species; the kayaking above kelp forests to view sea caves, and much more.

Bernard Brown along with 2 classmates, Asia Cottom, and Rodney Dickens, from Leckie Elementary, climbed aboard the jets high on life, as only innocent children can be. Their last moments were filled with ghastly horror. Too young to comprehend evil, the Pokemon fan, the basketball fanatic and the Tweety Bird lover, were assassinated by terrorists on Sept. 11.

Bernard, praised for his spelling, drawing and zest for living, was one of 64 people aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that slammed into the Pentagon – the workplace of Bernard's father. He was clever, a quick wit, the kind of boy who kept his teachers on their toes. Estella Cleveland, who taught his fifth-grade class a year before Sept. 11 at Leckie Elementary School in Southeast Washington, loved him. "He was fun-loving," she said. "He was the joy of the class."

Bernard just loved basketball. He’d been playing since he was 7. He tried football, but he couldn’t, because of his asthma. He played soccer at 5. As he got older, he would just go out and shoot baskets. He usually got up Saturday morning, about 8 in the morning, and he’d just go outside and dribble, shoot. The goal was right outside our neighbors’ bedroom window. He would play by himself in the mornings, or his dad would go out and play with him. Sometimes his mother would, or his sister. The neighborhood kids would come and play once they got up. He always said he was going to be a star; that he was going to play professional basketball some day.

Sinita Brown, Bernard’s mother, recalls September 11:

"Everybody was calling me at my job because they knew my husband worked at the Pentagon”. A golf outing had Bernard Sr. out of the office that day. But Sinita Brown's relief quickly turned to grief when she learned it was her son's flight that hit the Pentagon.

As it turns out, Bernard Sr. had a serious heart-to-heart with his "happy, loving child" who was apprehensive about flying.

"To be honest," Brown told NBC, "we talked about death. And I just told him, 'Don't be afraid. … Just listen to what the people tell you, and the instructions. You'll be all right; you'll be fine.'

He said, 'Daddy, I’m scared,' and I said, 'Hey, don't be scared; don't be afraid to die. Because we are all going to die someday.'"

Unlike many 11-year-olds, Bernard "lived to go to school," according to his mother.

The ambitious basketball player had just purchased a pair of Air Jordan sneakers. He was wearing the treasured shoes on Sept. 11.

We Will Never Forget!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Today We Remember FF Robert "Bob" McPadden

Today we remember FF Robert "Bob" McPadden, 30, Engine 23.

Robert McPadden had a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice but he wanted to be a firefighter. His late father Michael McFadden was a firefighter with the FDNY, retiring after 35 years as a Lieutenant.

Bob was the youngest of five children and the family entertainer. He was a great baseball and basketball player, but he also enjoyed skateboarding with his friends, playing guitar and making mixed tapes of his favorite songs. He met his wife Kate in 1994, and they married four years later.

In November 1999, Bob finally got the call to join the FDNY, and he loved the job from day one. Quiet at first, Bob was the “perfect probie.” The first few tours he didn’t say much and was quick to help out with chores around the house. He ate his meals at lightening speed so he could be the first one done and collect everyone else’s dishes.

As a new member of the crew he happily peeled potatoes, washed dishes and led schoolchildren around Engine Company 23 in Manhattan, saying: "Hi! I’m Fireman Bob!”

Bob slowly opened up and began to joke with the guys, allowing his true personality and sharp wit to come out. Bob loved everything about the job – learning the science of fighting fires, preparing and sharing meals, playing practical jokes, and most of all the late night conversations. Bob always enjoyed a good debate. He was a great conversationalist and a walking encyclopedia of trivia, impressing everyone by knowing all the answers to“Jeopardy!”

On Sept. 11, Bob and his station colleagues were2 one of the first units to arrive on the scene. They were caught when the South tower collapsed. No one in his family had heard from him all day, before or after the attacks. The next morning, Bob’s brother, Michael, a police officer, asked a fellow cop to drive him to the city to confront Ground Zero. He didn’t want to give up hope, but also knew that it was time to come to terms with what had really happened. Standing in front of Ground Zero, that is when the enormity of it all hit him, and he knew.

One picture of his brother he would forever cherish was of the FDNY Division of Training's family day, when the entire McPadden clan watched the youngest member rappel off a building as part of a demonstration.

"To see him that day, you knew he was a man," McPadden said. "He had a sense of duty and responsibility. You just knew that he had found what he loved to do. And he loved being a fireman."

Last summer was truly his championship season. He hit the tying run that helped Engine Company 38 win the Bronx title. His young marriage glowed. Kate and he were a day away from moving to Pearl River, N.Y., near his mother and siblings. So excited was Firefighter McPadden about life that he would shout, "We won, Kate, we won!"

"He had a great, hearty laugh, and we always had such a wonderful time together," his wife recalled. "He was very smart, not so much in a book sense but in terms of being savvy and sharp." "He was definitely my soulmate, it was love at first sight.” "He loved his family and he loved his job."

As fate would have it, in May 1999 he wrote his graduate thesis on antiterrorist legislation. The 55-page thesis discussed major issues regarding the need for antiterrorism laws, including a look at airline security and the practice of profiling passengers to identify potential terrorists.

In his final chapter, Bob wrote,
“How great a tragedy must occur before meaningful legislation passes that would effectively combat terrorism?”

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Sean Hanley

Today we remember FF Sean Hanley, age 35, Ladder Co. 20 FDNY.

Sean had second thoughts about being a firefighter several years ago when three friends died in the line of duty. But his two grandfathers, father and a brother were firefighters, and he decided the job was in his blood - no matter what the risk.

On Sept. 11, Sean finished his night shift as a firefighter with Ladder Co. 20 in the SoHo section of Manhattan and planned to stop by his friend's midtown office. As he drove away in his black truck at around 8:45 a.m., he flipped on the radio and heard that the Twin Towers were on fire; he rushed directly to the World Trade Center.

Sean was a tough guy on the outside, softy on the inside. He was a prankster in the firehouse and loved to play jokes.

"He was a soft-hearted guy who would cry at the drop of a hat, yet he would go and fight for whoever needed it," said his father, Gerald. "He was All-American, just like all the boys who went down."

On her 60th birthday, Sean's mother got a bouquet of 60 roses from him. And once when his brother Gerry mentioned that his child-care arrangements had fallen through, Sean was on a plane to take off to a vacation in Vegas. It didn't matter, he got off the plane and he said he'd help. Las Vegas, he figured, could wait.

Kevin Hanley, left this note for his brother Sean:

Dear Sean,
One of my great brothers, I do not even know were to start but I will start by saying I love you and miss you more than you can even imagine. We shared a lot of great and personal moments. I remember when I was little and we used to put the boxing gloves on and you used to pummel me, that one time when I caught you with one and gave you a bloody nose. I thought that was the best day of my life at the time. I also remember that you were always there for me when I needed to talk to someone. I will never forget all the great and exciting times we shared, I love you Sean and will miss you with all my heart, you are a great, caring, sensitive, wonderful, courageous, inspiring, talented, funny, tough and all the greatest things I could possibly think of. You’re the man, you gave your life for others and I will always hold you in my heart as my idol and hero, not because of what happen because you always have been. I will be thinking, dreaming and talking to you for the rest of my life.


Your Brother

We Will Never Forget!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today We Remember David Ortiz

Today we remember David Ortiz, a Locksmith from Nanuet, New York, who worked for the Port Authority.

David was one of the Heroes of September 11th. He knew the layout of the World Trade Center complex like the back of his hand. And after the attacks came, he went back in to help. He was one of 13 civilians who was pos
thumously awarded a Medal of Honor for his service on September 11, 2001.

He was a family man, with a sense of humor. When David wasn't working overtime on the weekends to pay for renovations to their house, he was fishing with his then fourteen-year old son, Richard, spreading joy to those around him, or riding his blue Harley Davidson. He enjoyed playing practical jokes on his co-workers in the WTC Lock Shop. He left behind his wife, Lillian, and two children: Richard, and Crystal who was 6. He was very close to his brother, Martin, and his sister, Maria.

"The reason he is missing is because he was trying to help people," his friend and co-worker Mr. Achee said. "We didn't know it was an attack. I went to give back-up batteries to the other workers on the West Side Highway, and he stayed back to prevent people from going into 4 World Trade Center."

A young lady named Nelly, who's father worked with David, wrote this note for the Ortiz family:

To the Ortiz family,

David knew me as Nelly. My dad Domingo also worked at the World Trade Center. My dad and David always used to have breakfast waiting for me right before I started school, which happened to be across the street. He was the nicest person. I remember once when he came to my house to fix the locks, I thought he was the funniest guy ever.

On the morning of Sept. 11 I was watching T.V. and as soon as I heard what happened, I tried to get in contact with my dad. A few minutes later I spoke to him and he was already outside with David. I almost remember hearing David’s voice telling my dad to go back inside with him to help. My dad was the last one to see him....

Later, my dad told me that David had gone back inside. He tried to convince him not to go because it was too dangerous, but he still went. I remember David talking about his family so much. I want to tell his family that David died a Hero. There are people that survived because he led them to life, and today, he lives through them. There is not a day I don't remember you David.

David, I dedicated my high school diploma to you because you always encouraged me to do well in school. You used to say that I should work for the Port Authority Police Department, and that's my next step. And in a few years from now, when I do make it in, I will dedicate my shield to you.

Love, Nelly

We Will Never Forget!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today We Remember FF George Sikorsky

Today we remember FF Greg Sikorsky, Squad 41 FDNY, former U.S. Marine, and veteran of the Persian Gulf War.

Greg had a vibrant smile, a wonderful sense of humor, and his integrity and dignity made him a man of Honor. He had a soft spot for children and his adopted Dalmatian, Dominic. He volunteered as a Big Brother and played an active role in the company's fire prevention program. 

Greg was in the lobby on the 43rd floor of the South Tower, along with 5 other Fallen Heroes of Squad 41, when it collapsed at 10 a.m. A Squad 41 Hurst Jaws of life was found with the other equipment indicating that the squad members probably were trying to pry open elevators doors and free riders. Surviving squad members told George Sikorsky his son was believed to have been attempting to work a nearby water pump to douse the flames.

In the days following September 11th, Greg’s beloved Dalmatian, Dominic, after having been brought to Ground Zero by Greg's father, frantically climbed over the wreckage and twisted metal searching for his master. Despite becoming dehydrated and his paws bleeding he would not stop. Eventually, too tired to climb anymore, he was passed around the firemen to continue his search.

In addition to his wife Marie, 3-year-old son Steven, and a lifetime of memories with family, friends, and colleagues, Greg left unfinished his dream to restore a 1939 Mack Fire Truck. For his funeral, Greg's flag-draped coffin was brought to St. Boniface Church by his 1939 Mack fire truck, its restoration having been finished by the local community. Four hundred mourners came to pay their last respects to Greg. Rev. Robert Saccoman held up 3-year-old Steven Sikorsky so he could see and told him:

"I want you to look out there, because it's a love story, a love story that all these people had for your dad, and it's a story your mother will continue to tell you."

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Jeffrey Stark

Today we remember FF Jeffrey Stark, age 30, Engine 230.

On September 11th, the firefighters of Engine Co. 230 of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn would be called to their finest hour.

FF Jeff Stark and his crew had just returned from another call when someone yelled out to turn on the TV. They saw what everyone in the nation was watching – a tower on fire. They ran to the roof to see how bad it was when the call came in to respond. 

The crew mounted Engine 230 and headed for the bridges over to Manhattan. They had to take alternate routes because roads were being shut down quickly. 

FF Johnny Guarino stayed with the Engine as the other firemen headed towards the towers. A police officer asked Guarino to move his engine up because other crews were arriving. He moved about two blocks up and then the towers fell. His crew was gone.

Five firefighters from Engine Co. 230 would not return, including Jeff Stark. Like all who are missing, Jeff had plans and aspirations that will go unfulfilled.

When he graduated from the Fire Academy in May 1999, Mr. Stark joined his two brothers, John and Joseph, as a proud member of the New York City Fire Department.

Jeff was an outdoorsman who loved hunting and fly fishing, and was an avid reader. "He was a very lighthearted, even-tempered, happy young man who was on the brink of entering his adulthood with a lot of positive plans," said his sister, Therese Stark. "He was proud to be part of the Fire Department. It was a job that he took great pride in." 

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF George Cain

Today we remember FF George Cain, 35, Ladder 7 FDNY.

George Cain made his living fighting fires but spent much of his time on cold snowy mountains, skiing. He loved the mogul runs and skied like the wind. He worked for five years in Telluride, CO as a carpenter before he got the call to join the New York Fire Department in 1994.

The World Trade Center alarm came minutes before he was to complete his shift with Ladder Co. 7 of Manhattan's Battalion 8. 

George's mother found a hand-written note tucked in his personal papers that he had written to himself. It was on a torn piece of envelope and said,

"I'm less worried about dying than I am about not living."

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Welles Crowther

Today we remember Welles Crowther, 24, "The man in the red bandana".

Welles was an equities trader. He could have easily just exited the building and gotten himself to safety with no shame. Instead, he found the courage to go above and beyond what was required of him. On September 11, 2001, Welles was no longer an equities trader, he was a firefighter.

In the weeks and months after the attack, eyewitnesses reported that, after the 2nd plane had hit into the 78th floor Sky Lobby, out of nowhere, a young man burst into the Sky Lobby and took control. He was stripped to his T-shirt and wearing a red bandana to cover his nose and mouth, protection against the smoke and debris. 

This "man" organized a rescue effort on the floors high above where the official rescue workers were able to reach. He called for fire extinguishers, he found and directed dazed and confused victims to the only stairwell that was open for escape, and he carried a woman on his back down to the 61st floor, then returned to the 78th floor to rescue more people. He turned back up once again after bringing the second group of survivors down.

His mom read a story in the NY Times about this man in the red bandana and immediately she knew, the man in the red bandana was her son, Welles Crowther. Welles carried a red bandana in his back pocket everywhere he went. While he was in high school, at the age of 16, Welles joined Empire Hook & Ladder Co., No. 1, Upper Nyack, NY as a junior member. When he turned 18, Welles completed the New York State training program in firematics and became a full member of the company, fighting fires and dealing with emergency situations. She knew it was her son who had rescued so many lives.

These qualities of sense of duty and caring for others were a solid part of Welles' character all throughout his life. "I see this incredible hero, running back and forth and saving the day," recalled Judy Wein, who credits Welles for saving her life. "In his mind, he had a duty to do -- to save people…People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal to do what he did.”

The Crowther Family ultimately learned, almost 3 years later, that Welles and the members of FDNY with whom he was recovered, had been on their way back up the South Tower with a Hearst “jaws of life” tool to free victims who were trapped under debris, presumably in the Sky Lobby.

A week before Sept. 11, as his Labor Day Weekend spent at home was coming to an end, he looked at his mom and said “You know mom, I have a feeling I’m going to be part of something big, I just don’t know what it is yet".

Following his death, they found a partially filled out FDNY firefighter application in his apartment.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Angel Juarbe Jr.

Today we remember Angel Juarbe Jr., Ladder Co. 12, FDNY.

A Bronx native, Juarbe had been working at Ladder 12 for eight years and had just finished his shift when the Sept. 11 call came in. Once they reported to the WTC, Juarbe and his colleagues were sent to search and evacuate the Marriott Hotel from the 14th floor up. When they hit the 19th floor, the South Tower fell causing complete catastrophe and a bomb-like aftermath. The team realized they needed to get out fast. They dropped all of their equipment and tools so that they could evacuate the building faster. They made it down to the 4th floor where they ran out of stairs. Part of the stairwell had collapsed. The stranded rescuers quickly realized they would need their tools after all. The only way out was to rappel down the ravaged stairwell using roof rope. Someone would have to go up and retrieve it. Angel and a Lieutenant in his company were quick to volunteer.

As the two brave men began the long trek back up the stories of the hotel, they came into contact with another firefighter who was in trouble. Angel radioed back to the stranded men on the 4th floor that there was a firefighter who needed assistance. At this point, the unimaginable happened. The World Trade Center's north tower collapsed. This was at 10:28 AM. Amazingly, the firefighters stranded in the 4th floor stairwell all survived. Angel Juarbe and the two other rescuers from Ladder 12 did not.

Less notably, Juarbe was the winner of the Fox television reality competition, Murder In Small Town X. They announced him the winner on September 4th, and exactly one week later he was killed.

He and his family hugged and cried when they received the news. He promised to throw a block party, where he was going to announce that he would use part of the money for a scholarship fund for his nephews and nieces. There, Juarbe would also hand the keys to the sport utility vehicle to his father, Angel Sr., and would give his mother, Miriam, the down payment for the family's first home.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember PO Walter "Wally" Weaver

Today we remember thirty-year-old NYPD Police Officer Walter “Wally” Weaver, Emergency Services Unit, Truck 3. Walter answered his final call for help on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center. He was last seen rushing to the scene of the disaster with three other members of his truck. He had carried victims to the triage center, and went back in to work a hydraulic tool to open an elevator full of people trapped on the 6th floor. He never made it out.

PO Weaver was an avid outdoorsman who loved hunting, fishing and ice-skating. Beloved son of Scotty and Joan Wearver, loving brother of Brian and Michael, and cherished fiancée of Shannon Faulkner. He left behind his dreams, and his plans for the future with his fiancée Shannon.

He left this life doing what he loved, along with so many others, in the most heroic and successful rescue effort ever seen.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Yamel Merino

Today we remember Yamel Merino, EMT with MetroCare, age 24. She was the only female EMS responder on Sept. 11.

Yamel was two months away from her Disney vacation with her eight-year-old son Kevin, the trip she'd saved and saved for, when she arrived at the World Trade Center with a male colleague and heard the following charge:

One stays with the ambulance; one goes to the towering inferno. If you knew Yamel Marino, you knew which door she chose.

She was 5-4 and wore a size 4. "Pound-for-pound the smallest one there," her boss, Jim O'Connor, said, "and yet this little girl went stride for stride with those burly firefighters and cops." Twenty-five years ago, O'Connor said, men would've never imagined sending a female EMT to such an apocalyptic place. Yamel was last seen calming some hysterical survivor before the first tower collapsed, and her body was found Sept. 12. The youngest female rescue worker to die was among the first heroes buried.

To know this woman is to know she was 16 when she gave birth to Kevin, and to understand she raised a young gentleman without the presence of his father, earned her equivalency diploma and found her calling: Yamel Merino was born to be an EMT. The best in New York, according to the plaque she was too modest to hang. Yamel had just gotten her own apartment, her own car — man, she was proud of that '96 4Runner. 

"I made it. I made it," she told her mother.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Lt. John P. Napolitano

Today we remember Lt. John P. Napolitano, FDNY Rescue 2. This letter was written by his dad on his 34th birthday:

My Beloved Son,

I sometimes think of the irony about the day that you were born, a 4th of July baby, Independence Day, born during troubled times, and 33 years later, you would become part of an extraordinary group of Heroes, who showed the world, during a cowardly attack on unarmed civilians, profound courage. Heroes who met evil head on with professionalism, dedication, and compassion, and a courage so great that it has inspired all Americans, and has united this Nation in a way that we have never been united before.

Sept 11th and the world stood still, a terrible attack against innocent people, they were trapped under horrific conditions, but you and others did not stand still, the towers were mortally wounded and even though you didn't know when or where the next missile containing innocent victims would strike, you and the other heroes rushed in, you were all towers of courage, you all saved so many lives. You were the eyes for those that could not see, the legs for those that could not walk, and you were the hope for those that were in despair and had no hope at all. The towers came down and in seconds hope and dreams were shattered.

I see the boy and the good and decent man, and today is your birthday, Independence Day. While others celebrate the birth of the Nation, my heart is broken, but I am so grateful to celebrate the birth of my Son...I wished you 33 Happy Birthdays, it wasn't enough. I want to wish you so many more, but they were happy for me. You were and always will be everything that a Father could ask for in a Son. Happy Birthday, my Son. I love you.


We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Jose Marrero

Today we remember Jose Marrero, 32, Facilities Manager at Euro Brokers, 84th floor of the South Tower. On Sept. 11, Jose lead many of his coworkers from the 84th floor all the way down to the 23rd floor. That was the closest he ever got to making it out of the South Tower. It was then that he heard Dave Vera, Euro Brokers coworker, over his walkie-talkie pleading for help. Dave had taken a group of people up to the roof. The door to the roof was locked, and they were stuck. People pleaded with Jose not to return to the higher floors, given the effort it had taken them to make it almost all the way down. Jose, hero that he was, didn't listen. He kept marching up, laboring to climb the stairs- but he kept going. He was last seen on the 68th floor climbing up towards those in need. He helped save many lives, and in an effort to do more, he laid down his own life.

Jose Marrero was adored by everyone that knew him at Euro Brokers, and for good reason. He made an effort to remember people's birthdays and would get the kitchen staff to bake treats for them on their special days. He went out of his way to help everyone and is remembered for his friendliness and constant smile. Jose was very close to his children and often would fall asleep with them after going upstairs to make sure they said their prayers. He was happy to be able to give them a house with a front yard and backyard, something he never had as a child.

Jose Marrero was among 57 men and four women from Euro Brokers who did not escape the tower.

**I would like to share this message written by Dave Vera's daughter to Jose Marrero

Sept. 11, 2010:

It's been 9 years and the grief of losing you all has never faded or diminished. I'm fairly certain that if you had continued on your way out, you probably would have made it out and lived to
 tell the tale like Brian Clark. But you were brave enough to go back up and try to help my father (David Vera) and for that, I'm both eternally grateful because at least my dad had some hope for help in his final moments and also extremely sorry that that bravery cost you your life. It will NEVER be forgotten.

-Jennica Vera Perez

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Gary Geidel

Today we remember Firefighter Gary Geidel, Rescue Co. 1.

To my wonderful loving son, Gary Geidel.
Words will never be enough to write how much I miss you Gary.
There is not one day that passes, not one, that tears don't flow down my cheeks from missing you. 
No one in this world loved you more than I. I am so proud of you Gary.
You were my son, best friend, and you will be my hero for the rest of my life.


Gary Geidel, 44, was two weeks shy of retirement. He was putting in overtime on the morning of Sept. 11, as he rushed toward the World Trade Center, determined to join his company in the rescue efforts, just as he did during the bombing in 1993. In this letter written by his father, a retired Fire lieutenant at Rescue Co. 1, Paul Geidel remembers a son who followed in his footsteps.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Nicholas Rossomando

Today we remember Firefighter Nicholas Rossomando, a member of FDNY's Rescue 5. On the morning of Sept. 11, Nick had just finished a tour and was getting ready to go home when the fire alarm call for the WTC came in. He jumped on the truck and rushed to the towers. Nick and his brothers from Rescue 5 never returned home that evening. Though his life was cut short, at the age of 35, Nick had been a constant work in progress. The road was not always smooth for him, but during the years just prior to his death, he seemed to have found peace and contentment. He lived life with enthusiasm and fully respected each day that he had here on earth. "He had an overwhelming enthusiasm about life, not just 100 percent, but 1,000 percent," Dr. Isola, his karate teacher, said. "From the way he smiled and hugged you, to the way he made a meal, to the way he did martial arts, it was done with enthusiasm and passion. There was no halfway with Nicky." Nick lived life fully and understood the risk he took, as he ran into the towers to save others.

We will never forget!

Today We Remember Janet Alonso

Today we remember Janet Alonso, part-time Email Analyst for Marsh & McLennan, on the 96th floor of the North Tower. A Spiritual woman with a beautiful smile, Janet's family was her life - wife of Robert Alonso and mother of Victoria, 2 and Robbie, 18 mths. The next-to-last phone call Janet made on the morning of Sept. 11 was to her mother-in-law to check on her second child, Robbie, born with Down syndrome. She had returned to work from maternity leave shortly before the day of the attacks. Though her children were her passion, she was a diligent homemaker. She loved painting, and refinishing furniture. She spent the weekend before she died sanding the porch they had added to their house in Stony Point, NY. Her final phone call was to her husband; she told him that the office was filling with smoke and that she could not breathe. And she told him she loved him. No one present in the 8 floors of Marsh & McLennan offices at the time survived the attack; 295 employees and 60 consultants were lost.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Brian "Mac" McAleese

Today we remember Brian "Mac" McAleese, FDNY Engine Company 226. Brian, 36, grew up in a tight-knit Irish family. A devoted and proud father and husband, Brian loved to host parties, celebrate his Irish heritage, and spend time on the beach with his family. Friends and family remembered his selflessness as he took multiple sclerosis patients fishing, horseback riding at dude ranches and bowling, even though many of them were in wheelchairs. Following Brian's example, many of his colleagues at Engine 226 volunteered with the MS Society also. On Sept. 11, Brian switched places without hesitation with another fireman who wasn't feeling well that day. When Brian's older brother, Kevin, went through his locker at the firehouse a week after the attack, he found a wedding photo of Brian and his wife Dawn, ringed with photos of their 4 kids. Surrounding them were photos of Brian's 13 nieces and nephews. Kevin also found a pile of Brian's clothes, neatly folded, everything in its place. A testament, he said, to an orderly life. Brian spent his last Sunday at Robert Moses State Park, building sand castles with his 4-year-old son.

We will never forget!

Today We Remember FF Stephen Siller

Today we remember Firefighter Stephen Siller, from Squad 1 in Park Slope Brooklyn. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Stephen, a beloved husband and father of five, was off-duty and on his way to play golf with his brothers in Brooklyn when he heard about the terror attacks. Compelled to respond, Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and when the entranced was blocked, he raced 3 miles on foot carrying 80 pounds of gear, through the smoke-filled tunnel to the WTC site. He eventually met up with his Squad 1 members, and began helping people out of the South tower. He was last seen alive at West and Liberty Streets. His brothers from Squad 1 that he joined that day also perished.

We Will Never Forget!