FDNY Adds 17 First Responders to List of Heroes Who Died from 9/11-Related Illness: ‘The Result of True Bravery’

NY Daily News - September 08, 2016

by Kerry Burke, Ginger Adams Otis

In a tear-filled ceremony, the FDNY added 17 names Wednesday to the list of Bravest who have died from 9/11-related illnesses.

About 200 family members gathered for the somber ceremony inside FDNY headquarters in Brooklyn.

The fallen included nine firefighters, two battalion chiefs, two captains, two lieutenants, an FDNY auto machinist and one EMS lieutenant.

As each name was called out, a white rose was placed below the bronze plaques already inscribed with 127 FDNY members who succumbed to 9/11-related sicknesses.

“It brings back a lot of memories, but he was a hero,” said Jennifer Wank, daughter of firefighter Richard Nogan, who worked with Ladder 113 in Flatbush and had 27 years on the force. He died on Dec. 20, 2014.

“He spent 7 or 8 months bringing out bodies. He couldn’t stop,” she said, as Nogan’s three grandkids stood beside her. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, in an emotional speech, said those who survived the 9/11 terror attacks remained steadfast even when it became clear their health was suffering.

“We remained (at Ground Zero) to bring closure to as many families as we could. It was difficult both mentally and physically, yet no one complained, and no one went home,” he said.

“Those we honor today died as a result of their work in the rescue and recovery effort,” he added.

Nigro told the crowd that sadly it was not the last time names would be added to the wall of honor. “We can make believe that this will be the last time we gather, but we know it’s not true,” he said.

“Next year and in years to follow, we will add names ... and we will never forget their sacrifice. Remembering them is one of our sacred duties.”

FDNY Chief of Dept. James Leonard said the entire department mobilized as one after 9/11 to help those who suffered a loss from the attacks.

“They are fights that cannot be won, no matter how much courage we have ... On the wall you see the results of true bravery,” he said. Julia Smith Puledo, who leaned on a walker to lay a rose for her son Michael Smith of Ladder 58, said he labored at Ground Zero for two years. He died last Christmas.

“He couldn’t breathe ... cancer got him from head to toe. He did it for his crew, he did it for his brothers,” she said.

Jeff Thompson, whose father, Capt. Thomas Thompson, had 36 years in the FDNY, said his dad was a regular guy doing extraordinary work.

“Anytime I can talk about my father is a blessing ... Today means a lot to my family,” said the NYPD detective.

    Others added to the wall include:
  • Battalion Chief George Eysser, Battalion 35
  • Battalion Chief Joseph Costello, Battalion 4
  • Capt John Gallagher, Engine 251
  • Lt Robert Alford, Engine 231
  • Lt Gary Gates, Field Comm. Unit
  • FF Adolfo Otaño, Engine 202
  • FF Ronald Brenneisen, Ladder 43
  • FF Frank Fontaino, Engine 155
  • FF Dennis Heedles, Engine 151
  • FF Thomas Kelly, Ladder 19
  • FF Nicholas DeMasi, Engine 259
  • FF Joseph Morstatt, Ladder 45
  • EMS Lt Harold McNeil, Station 31
  • Raffaele Scarpitti, Fleet Services