13 Children of fallen 9/11 firefighters are joining the FDNY
New York's Bravest are getting some new recruits, in the form of the children of the brave firefighters who perished on 9/11, the New York Post has reported.
As we edge closer to the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the current FDNY Academy class - who are set to graduate in two weeks - includes 13 new recruits whose firefighter fathers were killed on 9/11.
The group is made up of 12 men and one woman, and even includes two sets of siblings - two sons of one fallen firefighter, and the son and daughter of another hero.
Widow Heloiza Asaro told The Post that she is "very proud" that her son, Marc, 25, and daughter, Rebecca, 27, are joining siblings Matthew Asaro, 30, and Carl, 31, in the FDNY. She continued:
"Being that they are the youngest, I’m more concerned. They wanted to honor their father, to help people like he did. Even if he hadn’t died, they would have become firefighters. Since they were little kids, the fireman was Santa Claus. The fireman organized the picnics."
Described as a "historic" group of "legacy" probationary firefighters, the group also includes the sons of two firefighters who died as a result of respective illnesses linked to their rescue and recovery work at Ground Zero.
In an Instagram post, the FDNY revealed that "more than 200 FDNY members have died of World Trade Center-related illnesses."
Spokesman Jim Long revealed that this group contains the most legacy recruits since 9/11, although, dozens of children from fallen 9/11 firefighters have joined in the years prior.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told The Post:
"Bravery runs in these extraordinary families who have sacrificed so much for our city. I’m proud of the commitment these probies have already demonstrated to the department and look forward to celebrating with them at their graduation."
Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, added:
"I think it’s a great tribute to their dads. It’s quite inspirational to hear that they’re following in their fathers’ footsteps."
Twenty-two-year-old James Foti, son of Robert Joseph Foti of Ladder Co. 7, is thrilled that his older brother Robert, who just turned 27, is joining the FDNY in honor of their father:
"I know he’s happy. He can’t wait to start the next chapter in his life. When he got in, I got real emotional. It was always about joining the FDNY."
Another set of siblings in the FDNY class are Anthony and Leonard Ragaglia, Jr., who were just seven and 10 years old respectively when their father, 36-year-old Leonard, a member of Engine Co. 54 in Manhattan, perished.
Speaking to the Post, Stella Heedles spoke about how her grandson and FDNY probie., Thomas, has joined to honor his father, Dennis J. Heedles Sr. - a 9/11 first responder who died at the age of 56 in 2015 as a result of complications of 9/11-linked lung cancer. She said: "He wanted to be like his father and I’m very happy for him. I pray for him".
"I’m very proud and I love him with all my heart. He’s a good boy. […] It’s what he wanted to do and I’m so happy he made his goal."
As listed in The Post, the other sons of fallen FDNY fightfighters and an NYPD officer joining New York's Bravest are as follows:
- Matthew Jovic, son of Lt. Anthony Jovic, of Engine Co. 279, Brooklyn
- Peter J. Carroll, son of Peter Carroll, FDNY Squad 1, Brooklyn
- Scott B. Larsen, son of Scott Andrew Larsen‚ Ladder 163, Queens
- Gregory Kumpel, son of Kenneth B. Kumpel, Ladder Co. 25, Manhattan
- Brendan Regan, son of Lt. Rober Regan, Engine 205/Ladder 118, Brooklyn
- John C. Fischer, son of Capt. John R. Fischer, Ladder 20, SoHo
- Manny Mojica, son of Manuel Mojica Jr.‚ Squad 18, Manhattan
- Michael Florio, son of John Joseph Florio, Engine 214, Brooklyn
- John R. Leahy, son of NYPD Officer James P. Leahy, 6th Precinct, Greenwich Village
- Robert Tilearcio Jr., son of Robert Tilearcio Sr., Engine 266, Far Rockaway, who died of brain cancer in 2017
Bravery truly does run in these families, and we wish all these recruits all the best in their futures.