Sunday, August 19, 2012

Today We Remember Daniel Harlin, FDNY, 41-years-old, who was killed on September 11th.

Daniel Harlin was a member of Ladder Co. 2, Battalion 8 on East 51st Street. Prior to becoming a fireman, Harlin was a police officer. His heart was in public service; he spent 15 years between the

In life, Danny made people smile.  Danny had a zest for life and enthusiasm for his job, apparent in the way he approached his work - regardless of the call.

Of all things in life of which he was proud, his children were at the top. Whether it was the children he adored, his fellow firefighters at Ladder, his many friends, or his large family, Danny kept them laughing with his teasing and practical jokes.

Those who loved Danny recall his mischievous grin, his love for giving nicknames and his ability to have fun, even in the most unexciting situations. He made life better for those who knew him.

Rev. Joseph Faraone, speaking in a eulogy at Danny’s funeral, recited the words he believed Danny would have told those he loved:

"I believe Danny would say, `Bury my body, but don't bury my beliefs; bury my heart, but don't bury my love; bury my eyes, but not my vision; bury my voice, but not my message; bury me, but
don't bury my life.' "

Danny was last seen helping people evacuate the South Tower.

We Will Never Forget!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today We Remember Captain William Burke, Jr., Engine 21, FDNY

Today We Remember Captain William Burke, Jr., 46-years-old, Engine Co. 21.

On Sept. 11th, 2001, Capt. Burke called his friend Jean on his way to the World Trade Center. She begged him to stay away and he responded, “This is what I do.”

His father, William Burke, was a fire chief, and he aspired to be the man his father was. He dreamed since childhood of fighting fires. He never forgot the lessons his dad offered about what to do inside a burning building: Get the civilians out, and then take care of your men.

On the 27th floor of the North tower, a congregation of firefighters had gathered. They were dispersing to find straggling civilians when they came across Ed Beyea, a wheelchair bound quadriplegic. With Ed was his friend Abe, who refused to leave the building without him. The firemen were having trouble figuring out how to evacuate Ed as he was a 280 lb man and couldn’t easily be lifted down the stairs.

Suddenly, the building shook and swayed. A shock wave rippled through. Capt. Burke ran to the window and said, “The south tower just collapsed.” Mayday was declared and the firemen began to evacuate.
Ed Beyea, bound to his wheelchair, helplessly watched people stream past him with his friend Abe by his side.

“We’ve got to get them out,” Billy said. He then told his own men from Engine 21 to go ahead and get out of the building. They heard Burke on their radio encouraging them as they made their way down saying, “I’ll meet you by the rig” and “I’m right behind you.” About 28 minutes later, the north tower fell.

Capt. Billy Burke is the only one who died from Engine 21 on Sept. 11th.

He and the two civilians almost certainly died together. No one can be sure what was in his mind. Maybe he intended to take a risk by using an elevator to get down, and he saw no reason for other firefighters to share in that risk. Maybe he understood there would be no time to get a big man in a wheelchair downstairs, and Billy Burke wanted to save as many firefighters as he could, while refusing to allow Ed and Ab to die alone.

Gregg Hansson, one of the firemen from Engine 21 whose life was saved by Burke’s orders to evacuate, dropped off his stepson for his freshman year of college this year. It was the kind of day that is emotional for any family, a powerful yet typical rite of passage. He gave the boy a fierce hug and said goodbye, and then he offered thanks to Billy Burke.

Billy had worked for 25 years as a lifeguard on Long Island. One day while on the job, the oldest living former lifeguard came to the beach and his fondest wish was to swim in the ocean one more time. The man was frail, and in a wheelchair. Billy lifted the man into the waves and swam with him. Then they shared a beer.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Leon Smith Jr., Ladder Co. 118, FDNY

Today We Remember FF Leon Smith Jr., 48-years-old, Ladder Co. 118 who was killed on September 11th.

Thirty years ago, when Leon Smith drove his wife to look at the little firehouse at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, she asked him if he was sure this was what he wanted, and he answered yes, he would die for this job.

When Leon Smith Jr. was a youngster, he often disappeared without giving notice to his mother or father. His mother, Irene, said she always knew where to find him: hanging out in the firehouse across the street from the family's home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Punishment didn't dissuade him. "I was fighting a losing battle," she said. So much so, her husband pleaded the case for letting him be. "At least you know he's safe there," the late Leon William Smith Sr. would tell his wife.

Years later, Leon’s boyhood dream came true when he joined the FDNY. He was the chauffeur at Ladder 118, the guy who drove the rig to the fires. They called him “Express” because of how fast he would drive through traffic to get to the fires.

Leon referred to his fire truck as "his girlfriend." He washed it every chance he got. And when he was off tour, his crew knew they'd better spruce up Smith's "girlfriend" before he returned or they'd hear it from him.

On September 11th a photographer snapped a picture from Brooklyn of the twin towers. In the foreground is the tiny image of a ladder truck crossing the bridge, dwarfed by two smoking World Trade Center towers looming a mile overhead. It is the Ladder Co. 118 truck and Leon Smith is at the wheel. You can view this picture here:

That's the last glimpse anyone in Brooklyn gets of the six men on that truck.

The last known person to see them alive is Bobby Graff, an elevator mechanic at the Marriott, who later tells rescuers that he remembers them because they're tall and wear the red 118 badge on their helmets.

He says the men of Ladder 118 formed a human chain to keep panicked hotel guests and staff from running out of the collapsing building the wrong way. The fleeing crowd would have been buried alive if not diverted by the firefighters.

Since Sept. 11, Irene Smith, Leon’s mom, shares home cooked meals with the Ladder Co. 118 crew. They give her the strength she needs to go on and she gives them the strength they need to keep going.

All of Ladder 118 are my sons now, my extended family," she said, sobbing. "They are the greatest bunch of guys you'd ever want to meet."

She can still hear her son's boisterous laugh and conjures up images of his kind and caring heart.

Once he came home from school without his coat, and when she asked what had happened to it, he told her he gave it to a kid who didn't have one because he had three.

She used to take him on regular excursions to different places in the city. Occasionally, "I'd hear a knock at the door and I'd open it to see several neighborhood kids standing there, grinning. He would say, 'I invited them, Mamma.' I didn't have any money, but I couldn't refuse them."

"Leon was my hero," his mother said. "When my husband passed, I told Leon I lost my right arm. He said, 'No, you haven't, Mamma, I'll always be here for you.'”

We Will Never Forget!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Today We Remember Security Guard, Robert Martinez

Today We Remember 24-year-old Robert Martinez, Security Guard at the World Trade Center.

On the morning of Sept. 11th, Robert Martinez was running late to work. When he arrived, his regular assignment in a loading dock on the northern part of the complex, had been given to someone else.

He was sent by his supervisor to the south tower’s 78th floors sky lobby for his shift. 

Martinez had never worked on the 78th floor previous to Sept. 11th. He had only begun working at the WTC as a security guard a few months earlier after leaving his job at McDonalds, finding a pay hike in the $11.61 an-hour salary.

At 9:03am Flight 175 slammed into the south tower, creating an impact hole from the 78th to 84th floors.

The 78th floor sky lobby is where numbers of office workers had been waiting for express elevators to evacuate due to the first plane hitting the north tower. The tip of the jet’s left wing grazed the lobby, instantly killing most of a group estimated between 50 and 200 people. 

Only a dozen ultimately escaped from the building. 

About 50 minutes after the plane hit, Firemen, Chief Orio Palmer and Fire Marshal Bucca, finally reached the impact zone on the 78th floor. 

The floor was covered with the bodies of those who perished on impact, and the immobilized living. Many were trapped under marble that was blown off the wall. 

But they discovered that these civilians had not been left alone.

Security guard Robert Martinez, who had survived the impact of Flight 175 had not left the people alone. He had not left his $11.61 an-hour post, on the 78th floor, but rather chose to stay with the injured and immobile civilians.

At 9:57am, the voice of Robert Martinez bursts onto the airwaves of the communication system. His voice rang with desperation, but also with exhilaration and hope because the two firemen had shown up.

An entire elevator car full of people had been trapped on the 78th floor, for nearly an hour, and the firemen were attempting to rescue them.

“Central, please be advised, I need EMS at 78 sky lobby, 2 World Trade Center. I’ve got people coming out of elevator banks. Listen, I’ve got eighteen passengers stuck on the 78th sky lobby elevator. We need EMS over here! The Firefighters are here and they are trying to get them out! They’re trying!”

Suddenly his words were drowned out by crashing noises and then silence.

The South Tower collapsed.

We Will Never Forget Robert Martinez and all of the Heroes of Sept. 11th!

Today We Remember Assistant Chief & City Wide Tour Commander of FDNY, Donald Burns

Today We Remember Assistant Chief and City Wide Tour Commander of FDNY, Donald Burns, who answered his last alarm on Sept. 11th, 2001. He was 61-years-old.

Chief Donald Burns was a decorated 39-year veteran of the department and one of the most knowledgeable men in the FDNY often referred to as the "Human Hagstrom.”

On the morning of Sept. 11th, after the 1st plane hit the north tower, Chief Burns arrived on the scene. In the 9/11 documentary filmed by two French brothers, which by complete chance contains footage of the last moments inside of the WTC, Assistant Chief Burns is seen conferring in the North Tower with Battalion Chief Orio Palmer and Deputy Chief Peter Hayden, among others. 

The South Tower had just been hit and the men were discussing how to respond to the two towers, and the communications problems they faced. They decided that Chief Burns and Battalion Chief Orio Palmer would proceed to the South Tower to set up a command post at the foot of the WTC. 

Before leaving, Chief Burns brought up the issue that the during the ’93 terrorist attack, they had trouble with communications, and they discussed how to communicate through their handy talkys without interference. And then they took off for the south tower. 

A 78-minute voice tape recording recovered from inside the towers contains the voice of Chief Burns. He is heard repeatedly calling for additional companies to the south tower, but many firefighters headed for the south tower became caught in traffic or became confused about which tower they should report to. Minutes later the south tower collapsed.

"Chief Burns was the most intelligent man I had ever met," said Deputy Assistant Chief Albert Turi. "He knew more about New York than anyone - the location of any alarm box and every street in every borough." "Anything you ever wanted to know about the Fire Department, he would have the answer." “If you could be half as good a chief as he was you'd still be a good chief." 

He is fondly remembered as a "walking encyclopedia" for his vast knowledge of the city.

Fighting fires was not just a job to him, but his passion - one that rubbed off on many of his colleagues within the FDNY. He was hailed as an "exceptional" leader within the department. "He could have retired years ago, but it was his love of the job that kept him going. He could not give it up," said retired firefighter Bob Wood. 

Burns left behind his wife Elizabeth, and three children, Lori, Michael, a police officer, and Patrick, a firefighter with Ladder Co. 123 in Brooklyn.

He will be forever in our hearts and always remembered by his warm smile.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember James Marcel Cartier

Last month I received an order for a few bracelets to be customized with the name of a heroic young man, just 26-years-old, James Marcel Cartier.

James was killed on Sept. 11th, and his sister Jennie ordered the bracelets in his memory.

Attached to her order she wrote: "I lost my brother, James Marcel Cartier...he was in the South Tower 105th floor. His heroic efforts saved the life of our sister, Michele, who was in the North Tower. He was our loving, kind, brother...son...our HERO not only on that horrific day...but everyday of his young life. May God Bless him and all those innocent lives lost on September 11, 2001."

Bracelets For America would appreciate you taking a moment to Honor James' life by looking at his memorial page: 

James was in the South Tower where he and a team of electricians were assigned to work in the AON offices. He called his brother John to go get their sister, Michele, out of the North Tower, though he knew he wouldn't make it out. 

His sister Michele wrote this message for her brother:

To My Brother James,

You are and always will be a one of a kind. You have touched so many lives and gave so much of yourself. You were not the kind to stand and watch things happen. You had the vision and made things happen. Your love for family showed time and time again. Knowing that I was in Tower 1, you called our brother John to find me. James, I found brother John in the crowd, because of you. I am here today, because of you. I believe that God gave you the extra time on this earth to help me. But that was your way.
You are forever in my heart. I miss you.
You are my Hero!

Love, your sister, Michele.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Lt. Thomas O'Hagan, FDNY

Today we remember Lt. Thomas O’Hagan, Engine 6, FDNY, age 43.

He had one boy on each knee and looked so proud and happy, it was a perfect picture of love. No one could imagine the nightmare that was right around the corner.

Tommy was a Lieutenant at Engine 6, which is located just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. He had been assigned to Engine Company 6 a few weeks before Sept. 11.

The night of September 10th was a pretty quiet one at Engine Co. 6. FF Paul Beyer had made a delicious chicken dinner. Two firemen were studying for their upcoming promotional exam, tossing questions back and forth, and Tommy was giving them pointers on how to study.

On the morning of Sept. 11th, at 8:15 a.m., Engine 6 responded to a call. Upon returning from this call, while waiting at a stop light, they heard a very loud explosion. They looked up and saw a large hole in the north tower of the WTC. Engine 6 was one of the first units to arrive on the scene. 

Lt. Tommy O’Hagan, along with his company, headed up the stairs of the North Tower to what would be their last call. No one who went in from Engine 6, made it out in time, except for one, FF Billy Green, who miraculously survived the collapse.

When Tommy was 7, he tried to stamp out a fire in the Bronx, but his pants caught fire. He ended up with second- and third- degree burns. "Even with all that," said his brother Raymond, "and all the pain that burns cause, Tommy wanted to be a fireman."

His wife says she has no doubt that her husband went into the WTC tower that morning with his usual take-charge attitude.

Tom was an incredibly kind, generous, and gentle man who loved his large family and loyal friends. His twin sons and wife were his pride and joy, and he spent every moment having fun with them.

Tommy was new to fatherhood and was in his element around his boys, his wife says.

"I can see him now coming through the door with his arms outstretched saying, 'How are my boys today? I love you.'"

Tommy O’Hagan will be remembered for his take-charge attitude, his love of golf, cooking, swimming and relaxing on the beach, and impeccable dressing.

His family remembers him with a quotation from Shakespeare: “His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man.’”

His wife believes that if her husband could speak to her, he would comfort her and probably say something like: "Raise the boys, keep them and yourself happy, and move on."

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Thomas Hannafin, FDNY

Today we remember FF Thomas Hannafin, Ladder Co. 5, FDNY.

Thomas Hannafin was 36-years-old when he was killed on Sept. 11th after responding to the WTC attacks. He had been a firefighter for 10 years. 

Tom, a local basketball star on Staten Island, followed his oldest brother, Kevin, into the Fire Department, and joined Ladder 5 in Greenwich Village. He lived his life to the fullest every day. He was a family man who was always with his children and wife, a great athlete and team guy.

He was last seen on the 37th floor in Tower 1 on Sept. 11th, 2001.

Kevin Hannafin, Tom’s oldest brother and firefighter assigned to Ladder Co. 119, was in Florida for a wedding when the WTC was attacked. When he turned on the television that Tuesday morning, he knew that his brother's company would be one of the first on the scene. He drove 18 hours straight back to New York. By the next morning, he was searching in the rubble.

That Friday, in a staircase in the ruins of the north tower, Kevin, along with a search team including members of Ladder 5, found the remains of Tommy Hannafin-- a man who had stood 6-foot-3 and who had once led his Staten Island college basketball team to a city championship, earning the nickname "Floor General" and the mantle of local hero.

Finding his brother’s remains was, “the proudest moment of my life," Kevin Hannafin said. "It means a lot for firefighters, in firefighter tradition, that members of their company carry them out. That day, I was part of that company. I carried my brother's helmet down from the top of the heap.”

Thomas’s wife, Rene Hannafin, wrote this letter for her husband after his death:


For 18 and a half years, you were my strength, my hope, my one and only true love.

I will always cherish the memories we made together. You were my best friend when all else had failed around me.

You pulled me up when I was down and always made me laugh with one of your corny jokes. I can still hear you with that crying laughter that you and John would make, which I know he misses so much.

Most of all I remember your smile. It was so contagious and still is.

Kayla and Thomas miss you so much. Every day we talk about you, and remember the funny games that you would play with them. When I put them to bed at night, your watch beeps 10 minutes past the hour and when they hear it, they send you kisses and say how much they miss and love you. It breaks my heart every time.

Your family has been great to the kids and me. My mom and Jimmy miss you tremendously. And thanks, now I have to deal with them all by myself. Ha, ha! The guys at the firehouse have been wonderful, as you are well aware. Our friends and neighbors have been there for us every day.

Hun, I miss you so much and I wish I could turn back the hands of time, to hold you again and kiss your sweet lips.

"My heart will always belong to you."


We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Paul Gill, FDNY

Today we remember FF Paul Gill, age 34, Engine 54, FDNY.

Paul was killed on Sept. 11th, 2001, helping people out of the Marriott Hotel on the 21st floor.

His mother left this beautiful tribute for her only son:

“It is so difficult to fully comprehend the full impact of what has happened to the small boy who was my son and who is now known to the world as a hero. He started out as a very active child in the womb who kicked day and night.

Raising him was a challenge to be sure. There was never a dull moment. He challenged me to the utmost.

He had a happy upbeat spirit, worked hard, had many friends because he was a friend. He loved life.

When he became a fire fighter, I could not have been more proud of him because I knew that he was serving mankind just as I was called to do as a professional nurse. I felt that part of me was being lived out in him as a public servant. I was proud as could be when I would see him on the fire truck in the neighborhood and I would stop to talk to him and his colleagues. Sometimes I would stop and cry in the street because I could not contain my pride and joy.

At one time I felt compelled to tell him how proud I was of him and he typically replied by saying "No Problem”. I know that I took him by surprise but I knew that it needed to be said by his mother.

Even grown men need to know that their parents love and approve and are proud of them. And I am glad that I had the opportunity to say that to him while I had the chance.

On the night before he died, we had a short routine conversation, which ended in our usual "I love you" before saying goodbye. I am so grateful that I had that last opportunity to say one last expression of love before he went to his death just 12 hours later.

On my birthday he gave me a card which said in it, "Thanks for being my mom' to which I responded jokingly, "I didn't have any choice.” When his birthday rolled around the following month I wrote of course, 'Thanks for being my son".

This year since he wasn't here to celebrate my birthday with me, I took out that wonderful card and placed it with the other cards that I had received. This is just a small window of what it is like to be the mother of a hero. He was an ordinary person in so many ways. He did not think that he did anything unusual. It came naturally for him to do all the wonderful things that he did. 

Truly great people are usually that way they do what they have to do and don't look for acknowledgement. I always told him that I was proud of him but that he should not be a hero. He would always do what I told him not to do, so I guess that I should not be surprised that he did go ahead and become a hero.

I think of him every day. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes I wonder if this really did happen and it feels as if I am finding out about this for the very first time. Sometimes it feels as if I once had a son many years ago and sometimes it feels as if it can't possibly be almost 8 months since I last saw him and spoke to him.

I'm glad for him in some ways that he is at rest now because he worked so hard and had so many responsibilities in life. His life was cut short, but it will never be forgotten by those who know him and who loved him.

He gave his life so that others might live.

I look forward to joining him one day. Until then I hold on to the memories and hope that he is able to know that we all miss him and love immensely.


We Will Never Forget!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Today We Remember FF Paul Beyer, Engine Co. 6, FDNY

Today we remember Firefighter Paul Beyer, Engine Co. 6, FDNY. He was killed on September 11th, 2001.
The 37-year-old lifelong Staten Island resident, like the rest of his Engine Co. 6 crew, was due to finish his shift when the firefighters heard a loud explosion. As they neared One Police Plaza returning to their Beekman Street firehouse from another call, a police officer pointed to the World Trade Center, where billows of smoke were beginning to pour out of the upper floors. They immediately headed over.
Beyer’s friend and co-worker, William Green, who was with Beyer when they headed to the World Trade Center, recounted the events of that day: "Paul was gearing up like all of us when we got there. We were heading in to put out that fire, but getting up those stairs was very fatiguing. We regrouped at the 17th floor, and took a short break."
He said that firefighters were scrambling to find change to purchase water from a vending machine because of dehydration and exhaustion. Green axed the vending machine; water bottles were readily available for all. Green and Beyer were amused. "Paul and I actually laughed when I axed the vending machine," Green said.
The men of Engine 6 headed up to the 31st floor of Tower One and caught their breath. "A lieutenant from Engine 10 told us we had to make a push," Green said. The two men headed up again, but became separated by two floors. Beyer, who didn't have a radio, didn't receive evacuation orders.
No matter how bad a situation was Beyer was known for trying to keep everyone calm, whether it was by way of a humorous story or a soothing word. It was with that same attitude that he approached the escalating disaster at the World Trade Center.
A firefighter from another company later told Mrs. Beyer that on Sept. 11th he had been very frightened until he looked at the calm determination in Beyer’s face.
Paul was known as a strong firefighter who preformed his job with courage and integrity, fulfilling his lifelong dream. A fellow firefighter eulogized him as being “a tiger at heart, a real Superman. He never complained, never got angry, and didn’t talk the talk; he walked the walk.”

Paul was always there for family and friends. He was a loving father and husband, and spent a lot of time with his two boys. He was very proud of them.

He had a warm smile, quiet sense of humor, and great hugs. He was great cook and was known for his lemon chicken and twice-baked potatoes. He also made it a weekly tradition to prepare his "ultimate pancakes" for his wife on Saturday mornings and eggs on Sunday.

We Will Never Forget!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today We Remember FF Daniel "Danny" Suhr, FDNY

Today we remember Firefighter Daniel “Danny” Suhr, 37-years-old, Engine Co. 216, FDNY, who was killed at the WTC on September 11th, 2001.

Danny Suhr was the recipient of many nicknames. Captain America was one. Whenever he went out with friends, he would point to exit doors and tell them where to meet him if anything happened. He loved his job at Engine Company 216.

Danny was the first firefighter killed on 9/11. The firefighters of Engine 216 were some of the first responders to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. They were setting up near the south tower when a body jumping from Tower Two struck and killed Danny, who had been a firefighter since 1983.

Seven firefighters came to Suhr's aid.  Just minutes after he was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, the tower came crashing down. Danny and his fellow firefighters would have been in that tower if he had not been injured.

"He kept everyone safe," said his wife, Nancy. "The other 7 firefighters stayed with him because they wouldn't leave him behind," his wife said. "Because they didn't go in, he saved their lives."

"We're alive because of Danny,” firefighter Tony Sanseviro said. "It was almost like he knew,” firefighter Chris Barry said. "He didn't look scared, but he knew it was bad.” Before Suhr died, he was the captain for the FDNY football team and the Brooklyn Mariners, a semi-pro team.

Pudgy Walsh, a decorated retired firefighter and legendary Brooklyn Mariners football coach, for whom Suhr played middle linebacker for 10 seasons, says he wasn’t surprised that Danny was the first one killed that day.

"Danny's father was a firefighter. He has a brother who was a firefighter. A sister who was a cop. We are talking about a very tough, very brave, very dedicated family here,” Walsh says.

"Danny was one of the best human beings I've met in my time on this earth. The most complete player I coached in 54 years of coaching the Mariners.  He was a great friend, a great firefighter, a devoted husband, and loving father. Losing Danny Suhr was a huge loss to this city."
Danny left behind his wife, Nancy, whom he began dating in grammar school and their daughter, Brianna, then 2. Even though he was considered this big, brave firefighter, he could get fairly mushy over his 2-year-old daughter, Briana. He was terrified when she did things like run toward him too fast. "He loved her more than life itself," Nancy said.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Joseph "Joey" Agnello, FDNY

Today we remember Lieutenant Joseph “Joey” Agnello, 35-years-old, Ladder 118, FDNY, who was killed on September 11th, 2001.

On the morning of September 11th, Agnello and 5 of his fellow firefighters aboard Ladder 118 responded to what would be their final fire. They parked their rig at West and Vesey Street by the towers and vanished into the thick cloudy smoke and soot of the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel. Accounts by those rescued by Ladder 118 speak of the Ladder 118 crew ushering hundreds of the building occupants to safety. 

Survivor Bobby Graff says, "Their families should be proud of them. They knew what was going on, and they went down with their ship. They weren't going to leave until everyone got out. They must have saved a couple hundred people that day. I know they saved my life." 

Graff recalls, "Joey helped me bring handicapped people down from the 19th floor in the elevator. We then went up to the 12th floor where people were screaming and brought them down. Then the mayday call came on the radio and the command was 'Get out! Get out! Get out!' Joey and the other guys used their bodies like a brace - like a riot squad - directing the people out. They knew what was coming, but they stayed where they were. I'll never forget that. The men of Ladder 118 died side by side.”

Joseph Agnello was a career firefighter with the Fire Department of New York, but is described by his family and friends as not being defined by his life's work. He loved his wife VinnieCarla, his kids Salvatore and Vincent, took pleasure in his dogs, and thoroughly loved life.

A simple man, Joey never looked for credit for his accomplishments, nor wanted for material possessions. He found comfort and happiness in the little things: being with his family and looking up at the sky on a starry night. "Sometimes, when I take the dogs to the beach for a walk and I look up, I know he's still around," his wife said. "Like tonight. There's the most beautiful moon, and I know he's with me."

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Joseph "Joey" Agnello, FDNY

Friday, May 20, 2011

Today We Remember Captain Walter G. Hynes, FDNY

Today we remember Captain Walter G. Hynes, 46-years-old, Ladder 13 FDNY, who was killed on September 11th, 2001. 

On the morning of September 11th, Walter called home as his rig left the firehouse at 85th Street and Lexington Avenue. He was on his way downtown. He said in his message to his wife, "I don't know if we'll make it out. I want to tell you that I love you and I love the kids."

Walter Hynes valiantly gave his life on the morning of September 11, 2001 while assisting victims of the World Trade Center attack. Walter was a family man, as well as a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to his job with the FDNY of 22 years, he was also a practicing attorney, and the co-owner of a restaurant in Rockaway Beach. In his earlier years, he had worked as a firefighter in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and put himself through law school at St. John's University at night.

When firefighters were ordered to evacuate the World Trade Center's north tower, Capt. Walter Hynes, leader of Ladder Co. 13, was with his men as they descended the stairs. 

Somewhere on the way down, they found about 50 people in distress and tried to help them leave. Many never made it, including Hynes, a man who always made time for others. 

"His greatest personal quality was his generosity of time, spirit and even his money," recalled his brother-in-law, Richard Fanning. "He was always the first guy to pick up a restaurant check or a bar tab." As a practicing attorney, "He was widely known throughout the community and throughout the fire department for being able and willing to provide free legal advice," Fanning said.

"Walter seemed to have an inexhaustible reserve of time. He never turned down a favor." Yet, “He had no free time, because he was always doing for everyone else."

Hynes had three elementary school-aged daughters. Around his neighborhood, they were known as "Walter and His Ladies". He enjoyed taking his three daughters each year to Disney World. He was very social. He just loved life.

We Will Never Forget!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today We Remember FF Brian Cannizzaro, FDNY

Today we remember FF Brian Cannizzaro, 30-years-old, Ladder Co. 101, FDNY.

Those close to Brian know that he was a strong and determined man who never needed to be pushed. He was on tap, but did it all with humor. His buddies remember the time he drove a Fire Dept. vehicle into a chief’s truck and somehow escaped without reprimand. And the time that he jumped into a Brooklyn trash bin to smother a fire and leaped out because of a rat. He had a memorable sense of humor and lived every moment to the fullest.

Like his father, who spent 32 years in the city Fire Department, Brian chose to work for the FDNY. After joining the ranks in 1999, he wound up at Ladder Co. 101 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Brian’s life, along with so many others, came to a tragic end the morning of September 11th, when terrorists slammed planes into the World Trade Center. Brian, along with six other men from Ladder 101, never returned. His body was recovered the Sunday night after Sept. 11th, from the rubble of Ground Zero.

Brian left behind his loving wife Jackie and a 1-year-old son, Christopher.

"Our times together as a family were the best I ever had," Mrs. Cannizzaro said, referring to her husband as her "best friend."

The couple grew from two college kids who were dating to become the married parents of their baby boy.

At his funeral, his wife spoke these words:

"I know, in my heart, you'll be there for every home run, touchdown, every bump and bruise.”

She remembered that her husband "desperately wanted" to be a firefighter. "It comforts me that you were doing what you loved and you were in the company of such incredible men. Words cannot explain, Brian, of how proud of you I am."

Brian’s brother then turned to his young nephew, saying, "I hope you grow up to be just like your daddy."

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF Timothy Welty, FDNY

Today we remember FF Timothy Welty, Squad 288, FDNY.

Tim Welty's true trade was in the physical world. A strong, wiry man who could do push-ups with two fingers, he skied, sky-dived and motorcycled, and he played hockey and volleyball for the Fire Department.

In 1993, Timmy got the call to attend NY firefighter training. His first assignment was Engine Company 233, aka "The Tin House”.

During his years at Engine 233, Welty gained a reputation as a fearless and single-minded firefighter, who would let nothing and no one stand in his way to fight a fire. This reputation earned him a spot in the new FDNY "Squad" Companies, which were created after the 1993 World Trade Center attacks as elite specially trained firefighting companies.

Welty moved to Squad 288 in Maspeth, Queens, in 1998 as one of its original members. He was known around the firehouse as "MacGyver" because of his ability to make something out of nothing, and was infamous for yelling during fires, "If you're not going in, get out of the way!" to anyone in front of him.

On September 11, Timothy Welty had finished his 12-hour shift at FDNY Squad 288 in Queens. The sight was visible from the firehouse. Welty called his wife to say he would not be home in time to bring their son to school, donned his turnout gear and jumped on the back of the Hazmat truck as it pulled out.

After the towers came down, nobody knew where Tim was. They believed he had already gone home. His mother was always nervous about him being in the fire department. He always told her to stop worrying, that if anything happened she would be notified. But after 9/11, she was not notified. Tim was officially listed as missing, and like so many other families, she hoped that he had somehow escaped the terror attack. When November came and Tim still was missing, his family knew the time had come to say goodbye.

The duty board for the day at Squad 288 is still preserved in a small memorial inside the firehouse, and shows his name scrawled in chalk.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Lee Fehling

Today we remember Lee Fehling, 28-years-old, Engine 235, FDNY.

It did not take Lee Fehling's mother long to know that she had a character on her hands. "You know when the doctor slaps you on the back and the baby cries?" said his mother, Joan Bischoff. "Lee came out laughing."

Lee relished a good telephone prank, calling his mother, an insurance investigator, and claiming to be an investigation subject, or impersonating a Nassau County official to inform a friend that her garage violated zoning restrictions.

"He wasn't ever a fan of dull moments," said his younger brother, Thomas.

This was particularly problematic for those who played bagpipes with Lee in the American Legion band in Wantagh, on Long Island, where he lived. (Just try playing the pipes while cracking up.)

He could always make his wife, Danielle, smile, but he could never fool her. "I could tell a mile away if he was up to something," she said.
He adored his daughter Kaitlin, 4. His wife, Danielle, gave birth to a baby girl one month after Sept. 11th.

His wife left him this memorial:

Lee, I cannot begin to express how lost I am without you. I still can not believe that you are gone! We had so many plans that can never be fulfilled. I need you to watch over me & the girls, we will need your guidance. I love you very much & I know we will meet again one day to live, laugh & love together. Thanks for always being my hero from the day I met you!

We Will Never Forget!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today We Remember Paramedic Ricardo Quinn

Today we remember Ricardo Quinn, Paramedic with Battalion 57, FDNY.

After serving in the Coast Guard as a young man, he found his true calling as a Paramedic for the FDNY.

On the night of September 11th, Ricardo’s wife believed that her husband had been stuck at Elmhurst Hospital Center all night working as a paramedic. The next mornin
g she got a call from another paramedic who asked “Did Rick make it home?”. As it turns out, Rick hadn’t gone to Elmhurst Hospital, but instead he had rushed to the World Trade Centers to help treat the injured. Ricardo Quinn had been assigned to light duty at Elmhurst due to shoulder surgery earlier in the summer and was still recovering. Despite this, he still rushed to the towers to help. He was one of eight paramedics and emergency medical technicians who ran into the burning towers and did not make it out.

Ricardo was last seen heading into Tower 2 to help treat and evacuate those who had been injured. He first stopped to bandage a fellow medic who had been hit by falling debris. He then helped load someone into an ambulance, went inside tower 2, and never came out.

One of Rick’s favorite spots to relax was Jones Beach. That’s where he met his wife, Virginia. He made life size sand sculptures that drew crowds. His wife followed his wishes and spread his ashes on the waters he loved. Ricardo Quinn gave his life helping the victims of the World Trade Center attack. As long as we remember heroes like Ricardo, their legacy will live on.

Rick’s son wrote this memorial for his dad last year:

Hey dad just wanted to let you know that I think about you all the time. I am a father now, my son's name is Adam Joseph Quinn Jr. I wish you were here to see him. We all miss you very much and I hope that we can see each other some day... Life has been very hard since 9/11 but I am still trying to make my way as a good husband and father. I never realized how lucky I was to have you as a father until it was too late. I love you and miss you with all my heart. Love your son....

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember FF John Chipura, FDNY

Today we remember Firefighter John Chipura, Engine 219, FDNY.

On October 23, 1983, John Chipura survived one of the most tragic terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon. He was a corporal in the Marines stationed in Beirut when terrorists with a truck bomb took out the battalion headquarters barracks and killed 241 of his fellow service me
n. Because John had stopped to talk to someone, he was still 50 yards from the barracks when it collapsed. The man walking just behind him was killed.

John kept in contact with many of the families from the bombing. He never thought he’d live to see anything worse than what he saw that day in Beirut. His family waited anxiously for 3 days after the attack in Beirut before he was able to call them and tell them he was ok. On September 11, 2001, they would also wait, but this time he wouldn't show up.

After 12 years of service to the NYPD, he followed the footsteps of his father and brother, and in 1998 joined the FDNY. He yearned for the camaraderie of the firehouse, and liked the idea of working as a team.

On September 11th, John arrived at Engine 219 to work the day tour. After reports of the first attack, he called his fiancé, Gina, to ask if she had heard from his sister who worked on the 69th floor of tower 1. Gina had no news. Later, when she heard that Nancy was safe, she called John to tell him, but it was too late. His ladder company had already left. John and the 5 other firefighters in the truck were never heard from again.

John was to marry the girl of his dreams and the love of his life, Gina, just 6 weeks after Sept. 11th. Marrying Gina was his sole focus of being the last few months of his life. He told his friends he had never been this happy. He held her so close to his heart.

When John wasn’t serving the community, he was serving his family and friends. He was a great conversationalist, problem solver, hard worker, and friend. He embraced hobbies such as country dancing and motorcycling because he liked the sense of community he found.

As a Marine, John protected our freedom, and as a police officer and a fireman, he helped so many to safety. He is a true American Hero.

His best friend left this memorial for him:

You are my best friend. Although we were not born brothers, over all those years together, that's what we became. It has been 5 months since September 11. Every hour of every day from then till now you have been in my thoughts. I miss you dearly. You represent all that is good in people. Thank you for helping me through the hard times. First you were my co-worker, then my friend, and eventually my brother. Now your my guardian angel. I will never forget you. Goodbye Chip. I'll see you again someday. I love You.

We Will Never Forget!

Today We Remember Captain Victor Brunton

Today we remember Captain Victor Brunton, Ladder 105, FDNY. He was 43-years-old when he died on September 11, 2001.

Victor was a firefighter for 22 years and gave his life at the World Trade Center. In addition to being a firefighter, Vinny was a husband to Cathy, a father to Tommy and Kelly, a neighborhood bartender, an inspiration, a
source of endless knowledge, a role model, a friend. He was a lot of things to a lot of people, and his spirit will continue to touch us all.

Anyone could go into Victor’s office at 11:30 p.m. and ask him a fire question and he would lean back in his chair and tell countless stories. He would say, “the best way to learn is from your mistakes. If you're not making mistakes, you are not trying."

Even a false alarm provided an opportunity to learn. A young firemen described how terrified he once had been at a fire with Captain Brunton. Flames were shooting out the windows and the roof. He was thinking to himself, “This guy is absolutely crazy! What is he thinking, he's John Wayne or something?' " But Captain Brunton took his arm and showed him what to do.

We will never forget!

Today We Remember FF William "Billy" Lake

Today Remember FF William “Billy” Lake, 44-years-old, Rescue 2 FDNY.

On the night of September 10th , 2001 a special dinner was held at Rescue 2 celebrating Billy’s 20th anniversary with the Fire Department. The guys at the firehouse whipped up a dinner of roast beef, shrimp, and chocolate mousse for everyone on duty that night. Laughter rang throughout the walls of the firehouse.

This would be the last dinner at the firehouse for many of the men at Rescue 2.

The next day, on September 11th, Billy Lake perished in the north tower of the WTC. Billy was no stranger to rescues and disasters. He had saved people in all manners of disaster, including a scuba dive rescue, the 1993 WTC bombing and the Oklahoma City tragedy.

As a young boy, Billy’s mom could always find him hanging out at the firehouse two blocks away. He spent all of his free time there.

On the outside he was a tough guy, with a Rescue 2 tattoo, a Harley Davidson, and labored hands. On the inside, he was a softie. He loved his son Kyler and his cat Boxie.

He was known for his dedication to saving lives.

9/11 was Billy’s last call.

We Will Never Forget!