Monsignor Joseph Nagle gave mass standing in front of lockers of the Red Hook firehouse that became a house of worship Thursday as members of Engine Company 279 and Ladder Company 131 held their own tribute to their five fallen brothers.
“We want people to remember what they did and the sacrifices they made for the 20,000 people that got out of those buildings that day,” said firefighter Jerry Sweeney.
The companies lost Ron Henderson, Anthony Jovic, Christian Regenhard, Michael Ragusa and Anthony Rodriguez. Their remains have still not been found.
Sean Halper, the driver of 279's truck, was the only one to survive.
“They really didn't have a chance when it collapsed,” Halper said. “But just saying that the aggressiveness and the determination that I saw in their faces and knew in their hearts that they were going to put that fire out and save people. There was no turning back.”
The Rodriguez family was forced to quickly move forward, as Rodriguez' baby Morgan was born just three days later.
“Because of her, I think we were able to get through better than most,” said Rodriguez’s mother Brunilda Rodriguez.
“We were given a gift,” said Anthony Rodriguez’s wife.
Ragusa's parents also felt their son left them a gift — a vial of blood he donated to a bone marrow center. With no remains, they used it for burial services Monday. Many of Red Hook's firefighters attended, kicking off a very emotional week.
“No matter what you, do the scars will always be there in this department,” said Lt. Mark Hamilton. “No matter how hard you try to move forward, the pain will always be there, the hurt will always be there.”
In addition to their own tribute, some firefighters also participated in the citywide commemoration coordinated by the Fire Department.
One small group observed a moment of silence and recited a prayer at 8:46 a.m., the time the first tower was hit. But the others had to run to answer an alarm. So on this day of remembrance, once again, the firefighters responded to the call of duty.
|For additional 9/11 anniversary coverage, see our WTC Section.|