Sometimes the most interesting and moving stories are the ones I stumble upon. Like the Bus No. 37 bombing memorial in Haifa, Israel, that I wrote up last May.
A similar thing happened to me last Friday, when I was in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Next to the Co-Op, is a memorial to NY Fire Department Squad 1 members who died in the 9/11 attack.
I knew that hundreds of firemen died that day, but I didn’t know about Squad 1, a Special Operations Unit that responds to emergencies throughout NYC. According to its Facebook page:
Squad 1 responds as an engine in its first, second and third due assignments and as a Squad Company to working fires, high angle, collapse, confined space, subway emergencies and hazardous material emergencies in Brooklyn and through out the city as needed. Squad 1 responds to approximately 1800 runs per year.
Squad Co. 1 is one of 7 Squads in the FDNY Special Operations Command (SOC). Other SOC units include Rescue, Haz Mat and Marine.
On 9/11, Squad 1 lost twelve then present plus two former members (Chiefs Downey and Kasper):
The memorial outside the station bears the names of those who died:
The NY Times reported just two weeks after 9/11 that the remaining members might be reassigned and the station shut, but that didn’t happen after the neighborhood rallied to its defense and it’s still operational:
The Park Slope Food Coop had an extensive write-up (pdf.) on the 5th Anniversary.
The motto of the fire station house at 788 Union Street in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn is ”Squad Company 1 — The one and only squad.”
Twelve of its 27 men were buried in rubble after the attack on the World Trade Center. The remains of two men have been found. Firefighter Peter Carroll was buried last week. The other, Capt. James Amato, will be buried on Friday.
Today, the men of Squad 1 said, is the funeral of the entire unit.
Fire Department officials said they would reassign the remaining men of Squad 1 to the five rescue companies that were also devastated when the twin towers came cascading down on Sept. 11. In total, 75 elite rescue workers are either confirmed dead or missing, officials said.
Any move to move the men out of the house is too early, the survivors at Squad 1 said. They called it the coldhearted calculation of bureaucrats. There are 11 widows to consider and 22 fatherless children. The brick firehouse is their emotional core, the place they go to for information and a strong shoulder….
Despite reports of the transfers, Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen said in a news release that was handed out at the rally that the Fire Department had ”absolutely no intention of closing Squad Company 1 in Brooklyn — or any fire company in the city.”
While time has passed, the pain is still fresh for the family members:
Squad 1 member Steven Siller is remembered by an annual Tunnels to Towers 5k run:
On September 11th, 2001, firefighter Stephen Siller had just gotten off the late shift at Squad 1, Park Slope, Brooklyn. He was on his way to play golf with his brothers on that bright clear day when his scanner told of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. When he heard the news, he called his wife Sally to tell her he would be late because he had to help those in need.
He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear, then took his final heroic steps to the World Trade Center. When Stephen drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, it was already closed to traffic . With sixty pounds of gear strapped to his back, he ran through the Tunnel, hoping to meet up with his own company. Stephen laid down his life on 9/11.
Ever since, the Siller Family has honored his legacy with the Tunnel to Towers Run. The event supports children who have lost a parent, firefighters and military who have been seriously injured and sacrificed their quality of life in the line of duty.
Where do we get such people?
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