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Jett Superior laid this on you on || September 10, 2006 || 11:01 pm

Firefighters.

In tandem with policemen and paramedics and various stout-hearted civilians, they rescued an estimated twenty-five thousand people on 11 September, 2001. I found no definitive information on how many New York City firefighters deployed to Ground Zero that day, but there is a concrete number of those that sacrificed their lives:

343

Among those three-hundred and forty-three was a man by the name of Patrick Waters. Known as Pat by his friends and loved ones, he was an eighteen-year veteran of FDNY. At the time of his death, he held the rank of Captain in the Special Ops Division and commanded Queens Haz Mat Co. 1 (the company was based out of the Maspeth firehouse that subsequently suffered the greatest loss of any firehouse in New York City when the Twin Towers collapsed). He was forty-four years old, married with two children.

Patrick Waters wasn’t always a firefighter; he was a businessman with a lucrative position as an insurance auditor when his number came up on the FDNY test he had taken some years earlier; Pat passed on the offer at first, but couldn’t shake the pull of a firefighting career. He finally signed on with FDNY in 1983. He worked for Engine Co. 217 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ladder Co. 108 in Williamsburg, Ladder Co. 106, as well as several other houses. In 1997 Pat won a citation for his role in rescuing seven people after Greenpoint’s India Street Pier collapse; he jumped into a wintertime East River to do so. Pat made Captain in 2000 and was assigned to the company he commanded at the time of his death.

Captain Waters was off duty on September 11th, 2001. At seven-thirty that morning, he left his home and headed for Brooklyn, where the Fire Department’s medical office was located, for a check-up. Upon hearing of planes ramming into the Twin Towers, Pat made his way to the nearest fire station, where he suited up in borrowed gear and caught the first truck he could find heading to Ground Zero.

Once there, Captain Waters hurried to the north tower command post. He checked in, got his assignment and entered the south tower. Moments later, it collapsed. Before it did, however, Pat was caught on film by a French documentary crew. His last moments were shared with his wife, Janice, and included in the CBS TV documentary “9/11.”

Everything I read about Patrick Waters says that he was a man of decisiveness, of friendship, of compassion, of action, of honor, of humor. He was gregarious and gentle and personable. He lived life with great dedication and zeal. He loved coffee, the Yankees, God, firefighting, coaching and his family.

Today, on what is likely the fifth anniversary of his death, I honor his memory and his sacrifice.

Pat, we never met here on Earth, but I hope to make your acquaintance in Heaven. You were by all accounts a very great blessing while you were here and I am thankful for men like you who make this world bearable for others.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Patrick J. Waters, Captain

FDNY, Special Operations Command

Disappeared on a Tuesday, found on a Monday, buried on a Friday.

Survived by his wife, Janice and two sons, Christopher and Daniel.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

A Fireman’s Prayer

When I am called to duty, God

wherever flames may rage

give me strength to save a life

whatever be its age

Help me to embrace a little child

before it is too late

or save an older person from

the horror of that fate

Enable me to be alert

to hear the weakest shout

and quickly and efficiently

to put the fire out

I want to fill my calling and

to give the best in me

to guard my neighbor and

protect his property

And if according to your will

I have to lose my life

bless with your protecting hand

my loving family from strife

one / two / three

UPDATE: The 2,996 site is down for exceeding their bandwidth (shame on the hosting company for not exercising a little leniency today, psh). You can find a Google cache, with a list of active links to participants, here.

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