Never Forget: FDNY Honors 18 Firefighters Who Died from 9/11-Related Illnesses

NY Daily News - September 08, 2018


Nearly 17 years after terrorists attacked the Twin Towers, the FDNY added 18 names to the World Trade Center Memorial Wall — bringing the number of department personnel who died of 9/11-related illnesses to 177.

At a ceremony in its Downtown Brooklyn headquarters, department brass joined still-grieving family members to honor fallen firefighters, who, despite the time passed, have not been forgotten.

“Each of you had to say goodbye to someone too soon,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. “These memorial services, each time, demonstrate that we will always be by your side. The loss of life on September 11th, as you see this list of heroes grow each year... We will surely lose even more people from World Trade Center illnesses, than there were from the attacks on the World Trade Center itself.”

Nigro reminded relatives of the sacrifices made that awful day and the weeks and months that followed:

“They went back to the sites day after day, night after night, searching,” Nigro said. “Today as we pay tribute to these members, we also know that their names live on. They live on in the firehouses and stations where they served, in every borough. Sadly since the planning of this ceremony began, four more lives have already been lost.. We know this time next year, we will be here with their families as we add their names. We will be here every year as we renew our solemn vow to never forget.”

Relatives wept and laid white roses on an altar as a video paid tribute to firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Kate Schlosser, whose father, retired firefighter Michael O’Hanlon, 59, died last year, from a 9/11-related illness.

“He was called in to do rescue and recovery after 9/11,” Schlosser, 32, said.

“ He never complained about anything he had to do. He just went because that was his duty and his service. He always called being a member of teh FDNY the greatest job on earth. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer, dad was just a great person. `It is what it is,’ he used to say. He fought bravely, never let it bother him. He never had a bad thing to say.”

Among the 18 honored was FDNY Marine Pilot Thomas Phelan, who died from cancer in March. Phelan’s brother, Steven, said the memorial ceremony was emotional.

“It has been a rough five months for our family,” Steven Phelan said. “My Mom’s here with us, she’s 80, so she’s getting better everyday. But we come from a family of six kids. Three of us are cops and Tommy, he was the smart one, he was the firefighter. We miss him dearly, but the FDNY, every week, there’s something they’re inviting us to to keep his memory alive like all the other families here.”