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!

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