In Memory of our 22 Fallen Teammates from 9/11 #NeverForget
𝑻𝑯𝑬 𝑴𝑨𝑵 𝑶𝑭 𝑺𝑻𝑬𝑬𝑳
There's a story so old it must be true, about the time some wannabe tough guy was trying to pick a fight at Demyan's Hofbrau in Stapleton. "You Chuck Margiotta? I heard you were tough. You don't look so tough." The guy took a swing. Margiotta took it, and turned back to face his attacker. "If that's the best you've got," Chuck told him, "you better sit next to me and have a beer."
Lt. Charles (Chuck) Margiotta was a man’s man: football player, movie stuntman, and 20 year veteran of the FDNY. But beneath his forbidding exterior of a stern look, tattoos, and 240 pounds of muscle, was a gardener who nurtured tomato plants alongside Ladder 85 in New Dorp; a caring neighbor who ran into the street in his pajamas to help an elderly woman who had fallen; a loving father who coached his kids' basketball, softball, and soccer teams. "He was the nicest tough guy I ever met," said Jimmy Ernst, a classmate at Monsignor Farrell High School.
Margiotta lived most of his life on the same block in Meiers Corners, where he knew everyone by name. He played football at Monsignor Farrell, where he was a hard-blocking tight end and a member of the National Honor Society; at Brown University, where he was an undersized nose guard, and later for the FDNY Bravest Football team. When Brown's 1976 Ivy League champions were honored at their 20th reunion, his teammates chose Chuck to speak for them.
After graduating Brown with a double major in English and Sociology, Margiotta worked for General Motors before being called by the Fire Department in 1981. He was first in his class at probie school and worked 15 years at Ladder 40 in Harlem, earning eight departmental citations. After his promotion to Lieutenant in 1996 he was assigned to Battalion 22, and spent the bulk of that time ufo in Ladder 85. In his "spare" time, Margiotta found time to work as a stuntman in dozens of feature films, including "Hannibal"; as a private investigator, and for 20 years as a substitute school teacher for the New York City Board of Education.
On the morning of September 11th, after just being relieved from the night before and on his way home, he heard the news on his truck and drove to the nearest firehouse. It happened to be Rescue 5, with whom he hitched a ride into lower Manhattan, never to be seen again. At the time of his death, the paperwork had just been finalized on his permanent assignment to Ladder 83 in Westerleigh.
Margiotta is survived by his wife, Norma, and his children, Norma Jean and Charles Vito II.
𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝙎𝙏𝘼𝙍 𝙅𝙐𝙎𝙏 𝙎𝙏𝘼𝙍𝙏𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙏𝙊 𝙎𝙃𝙄𝙉𝙀
Thomas Foley joined the New York City Fire Department in 1990. He was assigned to Squad Company 41 in the South Bronx for nine years, before moving to Rescue Company 3 in 2000. Tommy was a member of the FDNY Bravest Football Team, after having played Safety and elected as a team captain at Westchester Community College. Noted for his adventurous spirit, he dabbled in rodeo bull riding, hunting, fishing, and skydiving. An avid weightlifter, he was also fond of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and made sure to enjoy all that life had to offer him in his 32 years. That helpful nature is what led him to his true passion, which was a career in firefighting.
On August 30, 1999, Squad 41 was dispatched to a situation demanding ingenuity and strength. A collapsed scaffold left two workers hanging for their lives on West 108th Street in Manhattan. The scaffold was dangling at approximately the 12th floor, on a windowless side of a seventeen story building. Both were attached to their safety lines, but only one still had a hold on the failed scaffolding. Ladder 4 raised their 110-foot aerial in an attempt to reach the workman that was dangling only by his safety line, but the ladder fell just short of height needed to reach the victim. His fate now rested with Squad 41. The members went to the roof to set up a high-angle rope rescue, but due to a reported smoke condition on the 12th floor, they could not use the elevator and were forced to carry their equipment bags up the seventeen flights. As the other members of Squad 41 took their positions, Firefighter Tom Foley donned his harness.
After a final safety check, Foley dismounted the parapet, and the team proceeded with the lowering operation. The victim had been hanging by his safety line for approximately 20 minutes, and there was fear that the shock of the fall weakened the safety line to the point where a total failure was probable. When Foley reached the man, he immediately hooked a safety line to the motionless victim's harness, using sheer strength to implement the transfer. The lowering operation resumed to reach Ladder 4's aerial, which was positioned at an extreme angle, culminating with two additional firefighters ready to assist the incoming delivery. Eventually, with extreme caution, the four men descended the aerial in unison, bringing the victim to safety. This hazardous rescue operation earned Foley a prestigious award with the FDNY in 1999.
Tommy was a team leader, unique character, lover of the outdoors, and country music. After a banner year in 2000 which included being honored by Irish American Magazine for that high angle rescue, he was getting started in modeling and acting, and was even listed as one of People Magazine's 10 Most Eligible Bachelors. On September 11th, eight members of Rescue Company 3 responded to the World Trade Center. Tragically, none of them returned to quarters. He was posthumously featured in the FDNY Firefighters 2003 Calendar of Heroes. Tommy will be remembered for his love of family, his bravery, loyalty, and most important, his kindness.
𝙃𝙊𝙉𝙊𝙍𝙀𝘿 𝙏𝙊 𝙃𝘼𝙑𝙀 𝙈𝙀𝙏 𝙃𝙄𝙈
Captain Timothy Stackpole was the miracle firefighter, who clawed his way back to full duty, after narrowly escaping death in a monstrous Brooklyn blaze. A Marine Park native, family man, Bravest Football player, as well as “Catholic Bishop" who counseled countless colleagues, most of all, he was a fireman who loved fighting fires. "We called him 'Jobs' because he was always talking about the fire we had the day before, the week before, the year before," said friend Gerard O'Donnell, a 37-year FDNY veteran. "He never stopped talking about fires.”
Prior to 9/11, Stackpole had an incredible story of perseverance and dedication to the FDNY that had already been etched into department history. On June 5, 1998, he rushed into a burning East New York row frame to search for a woman mistakenly believed to be trapped inside. The floor collapsed, plunging him, Lieutenant James Blackmore, and Captain Scott LaPiedra into a maelstrom of flames. Stackpole recited the Lord's Prayer aloud. Blackmore died at the scene. LaPiedra died 29 days later. His injuries would have easily qualified him for an honorable discharge, that no one would have second guessed. But, Timmy Jobs had two goals after cheating death in that East New York building: to recover and spend as much time as he could with his family, and to return full-duty to the job he loved. "It was his life, his calling," said wife, Tara. "He couldn't not do it. This is what he felt he was supposed to do in his life."
Hospitalized at Weill Cornell Medical Center's burn unit for 66 days with fourth and fifth degree burns over 40% of his body, followed by numerous painful surgeries, and countless unbearable skin grafts, Stackpole fulfilled his vow and returned to full duty in March, 2001. Nearly three years following his harrowing ordeal, and six months prior to the day the world changed for all New Yorkers. "People ask why he came back," said Michael Stackpole, his brother and fellow firefighter. "But the people who knew Timmy best knew… whether it was helping a lady down two flights of stairs, or running into a burning building, that was him." Against popular opinion, he succeeded. On 3/10/01, he returned to his lieutenant’s job, and soon after was promoted to Captain on 9/6/01. He was in FDNY Headquarters, off-duty, the morning of September 11th. Of course, he responded.
It turned out that Timothy Stackpole was among the first to get to Ground Zero, leading a team that ran into 2 World Trade Center to rescue victims after it was struck. He and the others all perished when the tower collapsed, with recovery workers finding his body a week later. It was estimated that ten thousand people attended Stackpole's funeral, including former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who called him "one of the most exceptional human beings I've ever met." It is why there are now multiple scholarships, and the coveted ‘Stackpole Award’ in his honor. "He was the pride of Sheffield Ave.," said Lt. Kevin Schamberger of Ladder Company 103. "He was. He always will be. He made us rise to the occasion."
“The greatest high you can get in life is by helping somebody," he said in a public service announcement that was taped before his death. He taped the message for the hospital that helped him recover from the terrible burns he suffered in the 1998 fire. Stackpole is survived by wife Tara, and their four children, Kevin, Kaitlyn, Brian, and Brendan.
Summer and winter, morning, noon and night, Lt. Daniel O’Callaghan wore his thick black bunker pants around the Ladder Company 4 firehouse in Midtown Manhattan. “It would be 102 degrees out, and he’d be wearing his bunker gear,” said Al Schwartz, a firefighter who drove the truck with the lieutenant sitting up front beside him. “He was always ready to charge in.” This was a man who set the Fire Department like a seal upon his heart as well as a seal upon his arm. But he also taped paintings by his 6-year-old daughter, Rhiannon Rose, to his office walls at the firehouse, and when he left his house would back his pickup truck up the street just to wave goodbye one more time to his 17-month-old, Connor Daniel. And when he left their home in Smithtown, N.Y., to work a 24-hour shift, he left a trail of Post-It notes in places where his family would find them: the dresser drawers, the refrigerator, the pillows. “He’d draw smiley faces on them,” said his wife, Rhonda, who married him on his 31st birthday, “and he’d write ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ on them.” A lot of firemen work second jobs to make ends meet. But not Lieutenant O’Callaghan. “He was always with us,” his wife said. “I’m glad, because my daughter has all these special memories.” He usually carried a battered prayer card with a book of matches stapled to it in his jacket pocket. It was his good-luck charm. On Sept. 11, he left it behind.
Andre and Zackary Fletcher were the only African-American twins in the New York City fire department. "We both have Type A-plus personalities," said Zackary, of Engine Company 4 in Manhattan. "Anything that reeks of excitement, adventure, and danger. That was us." Andre was a member of Rescue Company 5 in Staten Island. Both brothers rushed to the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. Andre never returned.
Andre and Zack grew up in East New York, Brooklyn, during the '70s and '80s, where the twins had many opportunities to see firefighters in action. "I remember the blackout in '76," says Zack, referring to the infamous power outage, during which looters throughout the city broke into stores and set many aflame. "It was bad. I had so much respect for the firefighters. These guys would go in there, and they'd put out the flame, and even when it's still a little glowing, there's another store, a block down the street, still on fire. They didn't even have time to put the hose on the truck. They'd pick the hose up, in the spaghetti that it was, hop on the back of the truck, drive a block down, and start again. I'm talking nonstop for 12, 13 hours."
The son of Jamaican immigrants, Andre Fletcher attended the Bronx High School of Science, but later transferred to Brooklyn Technical High School to be near his brother and to play on the sports teams, which Bronx Science did not have. In college, the twins joined the Freeport Volunteer Fire Department, and eventually, they applied to the FDNY. In 1994, both brothers joined the city department, becoming the only black twins to ever do so. A top athlete‚ he and his brother played for the FDNY Bravest Football Team. Both played at Wide Receiver and Defensive Back. When football was becoming too strenuous to maintain, after learning the department had no baseball team, Andre organized and founded one.
Andre G. Fletcher was 37 years old at the time of his passing, and was posthumously promoted to the rank of Fire Marshal. Andre was not scheduled to work on September 11th, but like so many, rushed to the site to help however possible, where he was seen aiding evacuees. He is survived by his wife, and their son.
𝙊𝙉𝙇𝙔 𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝘽𝙀𝙎𝙏
Thomas Mingione of West Islip was a police officer turned firefighter from Ladder 132 in Brooklyn. Mingione graduated from North Babylon High School in 1985, and joined the NYPD shortly after turning 20 in 1987. In 1992, he left to become a firefighter with the FDNY.
He was a beloved husband, a cherished son, a loving brother, a fond nephew, a special uncle, and an adored cousin and friend. His family’s nickname for him was ‘Top shelf Tommy’ because he always wanted the best and had the best. There are those who have an inner gift that makes them very special. The gift to be blind to the flaws and imperfections of those around them. The gift to see only the good. The gift to make others feel love, compassion, and hope. He was one of those people to whom God had given that special inner gift.
"He was a terrific guy, he was loving, just a good-hearted guy," said wife Jennifer. “Losing him is like an open wound for me... It's still very, very hard to talk about."
He was in the south tower when it collapsed. His remains were never recovered. Jennifer Mingione, a physician in West Islip, was married to Thomas Mingione for less than 18 months and expecting their first child when he died. She gave birth to a daughter, Amanda, that December.
Thomas Haskell Jr.
Tommy Haskell, Jr was born on March 12, 1964 in Long Island. A graduate of Seaford High School in 1982, he was an exceptional student and athlete, earning all-league honors on the football team. Tommy attended Wagner College, then St. John’s University, playing on both schools’ football teams. Despite becoming a New York City fireman in fall of his senior year‚ he continued to earn his degree in night school at St. John’s.
Tommy continued to feed his love for the game of football by playing, then coaching, on the Department’s FDNY Bravest Football Team. He excelled in the department, moving very quickly through the ranks and becoming a Battalion Chief at the age of 37. He spent much of his career in some of the busiest houses in the city, ending at Ladder 132 in Brooklyn. A devoted family man, Haskell married his high school sweetheart, Barbara, with whom they had three daughters; Meaghan, Erin, and Tara.
On September 11‚ Tommy led his men into the South Tower of the World Trade Center and assisted in the evacuation of 25‚000 people. Despite unimaginable horror, he diligently went about his job of saving as many lives as possible. Displaying bravery that inspired the nation, Tommy continued his mission until he was lost in the first collapse. Thirty minutes later, Tommy's younger brother, firefighter Timothy Haskell was lost in the second collapse.
Tommy spent much of his free time with his family, planning vacations, attending sporting and school events, and throwing family get-togethers. One of his favorite pastimes was building an elaborate Christmas village, complete with ceramic houses, hundreds of figurines and twinkling stars, with two trains running through it. The last piece added to the collection was a new football stadium. Last year he built three miniature towns — Meaghanville, Erinburg and Taratown, named for his daughters — along with Barbara's Garden, for his wife. Behind them all was a dark blue night sky, lit up with electric stars.
𝓑𝓞𝓡𝓝 𝓣𝓞 𝓑𝓔 𝓑𝓡𝓐𝓥𝓔
By the time he could walk, Michael Cawley wanted to be a firefighter. “Wouldn’t it be cool to play major-league baseball?” brother Brendan once asked. “Rather be a fireman,” Michael answered. He was “a walking billboard for the Fire Department,” said his younger brother. He had drawers of FDNY t-shirts and rarely wore anything else. He was furious when he was off duty during a big fire. “I could see how happy he was.” His desire to become a part of the FDNY began when he was just a young boy, as his father would often bring him to visit a couple of local firehouses. The memory of those firehouse visits stayed with him throughout his formative years, and on July 1st 1995, he brought his lifelong dream to reality when he was sworn into the Fire Academy. He would be assigned to Ladder Company 136 in Elmhurst, Queens, and from day one made it his objective to get to know and learn from as many of his fellow firefighters and officers as possible, much the way he had gone about befriending any and everyone he could during his time at Archbishop Molloy and at SUNY Oswego.
During his second and third years with the department, Michael rotated to Engine Company 35 in Harlem and Engine Company 286 in Glendale before returning to Ladder 136. One of Michael’s proudest days as a firefighter was on April 4th, 2001. He and his company responded to an accident where a man working for the electric company was electrocuted by the power lines he was repairing. Using his quick instincts and life-saving training, Michael put his life on the line to save another. He was hoisted up to where the man dangled unconscious from the power lines. Once in place, he was able to cut the man free and carry him down to safety. The man lived due to Michael’s heroics.
After Michael’s passing, his family was presented with the medal he had been nominated for as a commendation for his valor in saving the electrocuted worker’s life that previous April. On September 11th, 2001, Michael’s life, like that of so many of his brother firefighters, was tragically cut short when he responded with Rescue Company 4 to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. The previous night, Michael had been covering a shift for a fellow firefighter at Engine Company 292. He had been relieved of duty early on the morning of the 11th. When the report of the disaster at the World Trade Center came in, Michael jumped aboard the truck and rode into Manhattan with Rescue 4, determined to help save lives. Ironically, Michael spent his last day as a firefighter working with the same fire trucks he used to play on as a boy.
Michael Joseph Cawley lived and died with a passion to help people. He lived each day learning and growing and would bring his growth and new knowledge with him into each succeeding day. A friend once summed up Michael by saying, “to him, it wasn’t the years in his life but the life in his years”.
𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝙊𝙉𝙇𝙔 𝙅𝙊𝘽 𝙃𝙀 𝙒𝘼𝙉𝙏𝙀𝘿
When he was 5 years old, Peter Alexander Bielfeld had a tooth extracted. "Afterward, Peter was so upset," his father, Ernest, recalled. "It really hurt. So I took him to a toy store and said, 'You can have anything you want.' Peter went right for the fire trucks. He picked out a big red shiny one. He had that truck for years, maybe until he was 12 or 13. All he wanted to be was a fireman. I guess it was just meant to be. You can't run away from what was meant to be."
Peter Bielfeld was born in Germany, where his father was stationed on a U.S. Army base. The family moved to The Bronx in 1960, and his first job was working alongside his father, as a paper handler at The Daily News. But he never got the idea of being a firefighter out of his system. He joined the department in 1982, and spent his entire 19 year career with Ladder 42 in the Bronx. He had been involved in some very dramatic rescues, receiving two citations of valor along the way. With a very outgoing personality, who was always engaging people, he went out of his way to help the younger members of the company, training them, and showing them some special techniques he had learned through his experience. Bielfeld started playing football in the sixth grade at Mount St. Michael’s, and then had a football scholarship at Wesley College in Delaware. Naturally, he continued with the FDNY Bravest Football Team as well.
Bielfeld was at FDNY Headquarters in downtown Brooklyn on 9/11, scheduled to see the doctors for a follow-up visit on injuries he sustained at a fire in the Bronx the previous Friday, September 7th, 2001. When news broke of what was happening, he demanded to be placed back on full duty so he could respond. Never hesitating, he immediately jumped on a department vehicle that was heading toward the towers. The last that anyone saw of him was in Engine 10/Ladder 10, where he geared up and headed in to help.
In June of 2002 he would have been eligible to retire with 20 years of service, but Bielfeld had his heart set on taking the next fire lieutenant’s test to further his career. His alma mater Wesley College retired his jersey, number 42. Peter Bielfeld is survived by daughter Brittany Marie, who was just 17 months old at the time of his passing. "This is what he wanted to do," said his brother, Roger. "You couldn't keep him out of there if you chained him up."
Stephen E. Belson had different nicknames from different stages of his life. In Rockaway Beach, where he worked after college as a lifeguard, he was known as “Bells”. But at his firehouse on West 31st Street in Manhattan where he spent most of his career as a firefighter, he was given the title "Mr. Ladder 24."
A 1972 graduate of Lehman College in the Bronx, with a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, he became a ‘career’ lifeguard in Rockaway‚ NY where he lived for 30 years. Before he joined the FDNY, Belson was something of a beach bum, a surfer, a devotee of the Grateful Dead and Hot Tuna, or as one friend said, a free spirit. Then, one day, he and his lifeguard buddies decided to get real jobs. "We took the Fire Department test on a lark, and found a calling," said John Maguire, who rose to the rank of Battalion Chief. Belson grew up in Flushing, moved to Rockaway Beach, bought a house, and fit right into the tight knit community of firefighters and police officers. He wasn't Irish or Roman Catholic, unlike many of his neighbors, but it made no difference. One of his dearest friends was Father Mychal Judge, and he was made an honorary Irishman by the Consulate General of Ireland. "While he was Jewish, he was considered one of them," said his mother, Madeline Brandstadter. "They even named a beach after him: Bell's Beach."
"He was our ambassador, so to speak," said John Montani, another firefighter in Ladder Company 24. Belson attended all of the department functions, was always available for holiday duty, and could back a fire engine into quarters in five seconds flat. Additionally, he played for the FDNY Bravest Football Team. His last job was as a Battalion Aide, driving Chief Orio J. Palmer. Both rushed to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, with neither returning. Belson was not married.
𝙋𝙇𝘼𝙉 𝙁𝙊𝙍 𝙏𝙊𝙈𝙊𝙍𝙍𝙊𝙒, 𝙇𝙄𝙑𝙀 𝙁𝙊𝙍 𝙏𝙊𝘿𝘼𝙔
As far back as his parents can remember, Patrick Lyons had a thirst for competition, accepting almost any challenge. Whether it was collecting gypsy moths for a nickel a pair, playing flag football, or flashing the babysitter on a dare for a dollar, Pat was up for it. Yet he never allowed the contest to take over. A life without fun wasn't worth much to him. "There was nothing he felt in his life he couldn't do," said his mother, Pat Lyons of North Massapequa. "And if something didn't work out he'd move on. And he succeeded."
In 1990, Lyons became an FDNY Firefighter like his father, who retired as a lieutenant. Pat would also go on to become an officer, and loved his work at Squad 252 in Brooklyn, where he was working on September 11, 2001. He was known to be competitive, well planned, and entrepreneurial. Evidence of that is in the story of how he took books with him on his honeymoon in 1997 so he could study for the lieutenant's exam, but also as a backup started a limousine business, in case a promotion wasn’t in the cards.
Lyons grew up the middle child of five, and became known as his mother's "little entrepreneur" by age 5. He was a strong athlete, playing varsity basketball, baseball, and football at Plainedge High School. He attended New York Institute of Technology on a baseball scholarship, but football was his obsession. A diehard Miami Dolphins fan, he would also star at quarterback for the Bravest Football team, as well as the Suffolk Titans, a flag football team.
"He was a really good inspiration to me," said his wife Irene. "He taught me to live life. He probably would have said something like, 'You have one life to live; can we make it a fun one?'" On October 7th, 2001, the couple’s first child Patrick Mate Lyons came into the world. "A part of me wonders whether he knew he wasn't going to live a long life. I said that to my friends, and a lot of them have said that 'Pat and Irene have had more happiness and have done more things together than anyone else in life. I really think my husband is making this baby a happy baby for me. "He taught me so many things about life. He loved having fun."
𝑻𝑯𝑬 𝑩𝑰𝑮 𝑬𝑨𝑺𝒀
Christopher Sullivan was born July 28, 1962, at Lenox Hill Hospital, Manhattan. After graduating from Farmingdale High School, he worked as a corrections officer for the Nassau County Sheriff's Department and as a New York City police officer before joining the Fire Department in August 1986. A year after joining the Fire Department, Sullivan married his high school sweetheart, Dolores, and the two had two sons together, Sean, and Brian.
He was assigned to Ladder 31 in the Bronx, before being promoted to lieutenant and settling in at Ladder 111 in Brooklyn. A big man at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Sullivan wore a flat-top haircut and carried a muscular build from years of weight lifting. He also enjoyed the outdoors, including family camping trips to Maine and Vermont, fishing for snapper at Captree State Park, and he put his large frame to work on the football field as well for the FDNY Bravest Team.
Robert Sullivan said his brother will be remembered as an all-around family man who cooked and cared for his sons on days he didn't have to go to the firehouse, and for his positive outlook, strong faith in God, and penchant for practical jokes. "Every day, he lived life to the fullest. You couldn't rattle the guy that easily. He was just easygoing and enjoyed things." He added that his brother would have been philosophical about death, and what transpired that day. "I think he would say we shouldn't worry about the guys who died, that God would take care of them. He would say that we need to focus on the country, stick together and do what's right. When all is said and done, if my brother had to do that again, he would. That's the kind of guy he was."
𝑻𝑯𝑬 𝑩𝑶𝑶𝑴𝑰𝑵𝑮 𝑳𝑬𝑮
William ‘Billy’ Johnston was fulfilling a lifelong dream as a New York City firefighter, when he graduated from the FDNY fire academy in the first class of 2000. He was assigned to Engine Company 276/Ladder 156 in Brooklyn, but was on a one-year detail as a rotation to Engine Company 6 in downtown Manhattan during September 11th, 2001.
As soon as Billy became a member of the FDNY he joined the football, softball, and basketball teams. He grew up in North Babylon, and was an astounding athlete for North Babylon High School, specializing in soccer. He played in the Empire State Games, taking home bronze and gold medals, as well as professionally for a time in an indoor league. For the fire department, he was a left fielder on the 2001 city championship softball team, and used his powerful right leg to serve as the kicker for the FDNY Bravest Football Club. There’s the story with the football team of when he shaved off a teammate's eyebrow on a road trip while the fellow was sleeping, as part of some undetermined high jinks. Sports grabbed Mr. Johnston more than anything else.
Until joining the Fire Department, Johnston worked for the Transit Authority as an ironworker, tending to elevated subway tracks. Billy spent his last weekend doing what he loved - playing ball with his FDNY brothers in a softball tournament in Maryland. Billy was one of four from his company who died in the World Trade Center attacks.
𝑻𝑯𝑬 𝑾𝑰𝑳𝑫 𝑹𝑶𝑽𝑬𝑹 •
Durrell ‘Bronko’ Pearsall wanted to become a firefighter his entire life, and follow in his father’s footsteps. His journey began as a volunteer with the Hempstead Fire Department on Long Island, traveled through Squad 1 upon his appointment to the FDNY in 1993, and culminated with his Rescue 4 unit on 9/11/2001.
Pearsall received numerous commendations and two Medals of Valor in his time with the FDNY, and was preparing to get promoted to lieutenant while also serving as a Nassau fire educator. He also pursued several personal interests within the department.
Fiercely proud of his Irish heritage‚ ‘Bronko’ played the snare drum in the FDNY’s Emerald Society Pipe and Drums. A big boy, he also anchored the Offensive Line for the FDNY Bravest Football Team as a co-captain. Bronko brought several traditions to the team, none bigger than singing “The Wild Rover”. He played football collegiately at C.W. Post, who since his passing has renamed their home field in his honor.
‘Bronko’ was passionate in his love for his job and his ‘brothers’ in the FDNY. He is remembered for his zest for life and his comical personality. ‘Bronko’ will be forever remembered by his countless friends. #NeverForget
Thomas Cullen III
𝑻𝑯𝑬 𝑳𝑬𝑨𝑫𝑬𝑹 •
Thomas Patrick Cullen III was born on August 19th, 1970. The oldest of three children, Tommy grew up in the New York City beach community of Breezy Point, Queens. At sixteen, Tommy became a NYC lifeguard, spending most Summers patrolling and protecting the shores of Rockaway Beach.
In 1996 he lived out his dream and joined the FDNY. Over the next five years Tommy would marry his college sweetheart and love of his life, become a proud father, work in the busiest firehouse in the city, Engine 290/Ladder 103 in East New York, Brooklyn and finally ending up in a specialized unit in the South Bronx, Squad 41.
He also played several seasons for the FDNY Bravest Football team, as their quarterback. He loved life and lived everyday to the fullest, by helping others. He loved the fire department, he loved the football team and most of all he loved his family.
𝑻𝑯𝑬 𝑷𝑹𝑶𝑻𝑬𝑪𝑻𝑶𝑹 •
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 served as a Captain for both the FDNY and Brooklyn Mariners (semi-pro team) at his Middle Linebacker position. Pudgy Walsh, the decorated firefighter, legendary Brooklyn Mariners football coach, and founder of the FDNY Football Team, 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 said. “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.”
The Consummate Teammate
Tarel Coleman grew up in a tight knit family in Queens, wanting to become a firefighter since childhood. Both he and his brother John would go onto join the department, with Tarel being appointed in 1993 and rising through the ranks to end up in Squad 252, in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Nicknamed ‘Prozac’, for his endless energy and speed, Coleman loved playing centerfield for several softball teams, but loved even more playing Defensive Back for The FDNY Bravest Football Team. He was rumored to run the 40 yard dash in a blistering 4.3 seconds!
Tarel was a devoted father to two children, and was always the life of the party. He was 32 years young on the morning of September 11, 2001, and has been missed dearly every day since.
Born in Dongan Hills, the 39 year old firefighter was a fixture in his Staten Island boro, particularly in his New Dorp neighborhood. He was a Daily News All City Football player for New Dorp High, and continued playing through his days with the FDNY Bravest team.
John Bergin started as a court officer in Manhattan, before being appointed to the FDNY in 1985, where he was assigned to Ladder 6. John moonlighted as a bartender at the famous Lee’s Tavern, and in 1995 made the move to Staten Island’s Rescue Company 5.
He was referred to as the ultimate “Mr. Mom” dedicating his life to his family, and neighbors. From coaching basketball at Our Lady Queen of Peace R.C., to Katie's Mid-Island softball team, and the Staten Island Little League team "Franco's Army” (named for Met pitcher John Franco), Bergin was always involved. It was affectionately known in New Drop that John P. Bergin's house was the neighborhood house.
Shortly before 9/11, in June of 2001, Bergin realized his lifelong dream of owning his own bar, when he bought the former Overtime Inn. It was just up the block from where he and his wife used to live, and he was just two weeks shy from completing renovations. He renamed it the Grant City Tavern, and it continues to operate to this day.
John is survived by his wife, Madeline, and children Katie, John, and Shannon.
The Nut of The Nuthouse
John Florio was born in Middle Village, Queens, on November 29, 1967. A graduate of St. Francis Prep High School in Fresh Meadows, he resided in Oceanside and attended Nassau Community College for a few years before taking the fire department test. Assigned to Engine 214/Ladder 111 in Bed Stuy, he was the metalhead of his Brooklyn firehouse, and an electric presence in a place that was already called "The Nuthouse."
Florio was described by a friend as being built like a fire hydrant, who “wasn't really tall or anything, but he was all muscle." Others described him as an athlete, built like a box of bricks, and if it was 6am and Metallica was blasting from the basement of the firehouse, it meant that John J. Florio was down there pumping iron. An enormous fan of Metallica, he and lead singer James Hetfield actually struck up a relationship exchanging letters to each other. It is even said that the night the members of Engine 214 found his body, someone called to say ‘turn on the radio’. They did, right on cue with the opening riff of a Metallica song.
Florio became the starting halfback the first year he tried out for the FDNY Bravest Football Team. He coached his son's Little League team, as well as his football team, the East Rockaway Raiders.
John Florio is survived by his wife, Shari, and his children, Michael, and Kylie.
Sal Calabro was born in Bath Beach, Brooklyn, but later moved to Staten Island to raise his family. He was on the job for 14 years, where he was assigned to Ladder 101 in Brooklyn, aka the Red Hook Raiders. On the morning of 9/11 he had already been relieved from duty, but with L-101 being a Tiller Truck there was an empty seat, and Sal jumped on to ride heavy. None of the members of L-101 returned home that day, having last been seen in the South Tower of the World Trade Center right before it came down. They are now affectionately remembered as the “7 In Heaven.”
Sal was the heart and soul of the firehouse, and was noted as being super patriotic. He could often be seen wearing an American flag t-shirt, watching the History Channel, or reading about the Vietnam War and World War II. Sometimes all at the same time. His catch phrase was telling guys “You’re the best”, to which they would always respond, “No Sal, you’re the best!”, because he absolutely was.
Sal played on the FDNY Bravest Football Team, as well as intramural ice hockey and softball for the department. According to one of the senior guys from his firehouse, “he was in great shape, a little light in the ass, but loved to hit. He was a special teams ace.”
Sal would be 60 years old today, and was survived by his wife Francene, and their two sons, Daniel and Alexander James. A.J. (@aj_calabro) just graduated from Syracuse University where he was a Defensive Back and Special Teams Ace for the Orange, just like his dad was for the Bravest.
𝑻𝑯𝑬 𝑪𝑯𝑨𝑹𝑰𝑺𝑴𝑨𝑻𝑰𝑪 𝑮𝑰𝑨𝑵𝑻
Keith Alexander Glascoe was born in San Francisco, California, before his family moved to Brooklyn, NY. With a deep affinity for football, he began playing at the age of 8 years old, and became a star at Midwood High School, before attending Springfield College in Massachusetts for two years. He later transferred to Delaware State, competing as a Defensive Lineman, while earning a degree in Business Administration.
Growing to a monstrous 6’4” and 270 pounds, Keith was invited to the New York Jets training camp following his graduation from Delaware State, where he made the practice squad. His second year at Jets' camp was cut short by injury‚ although he next played professionally for a year in Italy.
Returning from Italy, where he is rumored to have mastered the language, he worked at the New York City Children's Welfare Agency (CWA) to help improve the plight of inner-city children. Additionally, Glascoe embarked on an acting career, appearing in various commercials, Law and Order episodes, and even played the character Benny in the iconic movie "The Professional."
Keith joined the FDNY, where he was assigned to Ladder 21 in Manhattan. He played Tight End and wore #21 for the Bravest. Off duty, he continued to go to casting calls, but his sons had discovered modeling. So Keith, the proud father he was, instead focused his energy on their careers.
Keith would be 60 today, and was survived by wife Veronica, and their two children, Nolan and Owen. His wife was expecting a third child in April of 2002.
Brian Bilcher was from South Beach, Staten Island and carried the nickname "Tugboat" because of his size and strength. Family and friends described him as a great man, whether handing out food and money to the homeless, pulling practical jokes on unsuspecting friends, or riding his motorcycle around town. Brian played guard for the FDNY Bravest Football Team.
Brian’s wife Tina called him “Captain America”, and they welcomed their first child into the world on August 29th, just two weeks before 9/11. He was said to be excited to become a father, but even more excited to be having a son. The Bilcher’s named their son Grant, because they felt he was a Grant from God.
Brian was on the job for 10 years, and was the patriotic comic book superhero: calm, reasonable, and quick to the rescue of anyone who needed help. He was there for everyone, whether your car was stuck on the side of the road, sick in bed, or just needed a helping hand. Tugboat was there right away to help.
Brian was assigned to Engine 33, but on an onion skin in Squad 1, solidifying his case for the transfer to become permanent. His heroics on 9/11 proved beyond worthy.