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  • Matthew Kerns

Hastened to the Fire

"Texas Jack as a Fireman" reads the headline in a scrapbook clipping collected by Jack wife, Giuseppina Morlacchi. Jack was on tour, performing in the show The Scouts of the Plains for a single night in Chester, Pennsylvania. "Texas Jack's show was well attended last evening," the local paper reported, "and loudly applauded." After the show, Texas Jack and his wife retired to their hotel room. In the early morning hours, the town's silence was broken by the sound of a fire alarm. Before the second alarm sounded minutes later, Texas Jack had run from the hotel and towards the commotion.


An unlabeled newspaper clipping from the scrapbook of Giuseppina Morlacchi.

"Among those who hastened to the fire last night, at Barton & Cotton's mill," the clipping relates, "was 'Texas Jack' (Mr. J. B. Omohondro [sic]) of the Buffalo Bill Combination. In lieu of his scalping knife he took with him an axe with which he made himself useful in splitting wood for one of the steam fire engines, and demonstrated that he was as expert with that implement as he is with a Sharp's rifle. His services were efficient and were verbally acknowledged by the firemen whom he assisted."


On September 11, 2001, a different set of men ran towards the commotion, towards the noise, and towards the fire. Fred Rogers,—Mr. Rogers of PBS fame—said, "Always look for the helpers...There’s always someone who is trying to help. I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong." On that Tuesday morning in New York City, those helpers were firemen. They were police and EMTs. They were paramedics and patrolmen. Of the 2,977 victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks, 412 were emergency workers and first responders who rushed towards the danger—who rushed to help.


Brooklyn-based firefighters George Johnson of Rockaway Beach, Dan McWilliams of Long Island, and Billy Eisengrein of Staten Island. Photo by Thomas E. Franklin.

These 412 brave people were 343 firefighters—among them two paramedics and a chaplain—from the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). 37 were police officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD). 23 were New York's finest, officers from the New York City Police Department (NYPD). 8 were emergency medical technicians or paramedics. 1 was a patrolman from the New York Fire Patrol.


U.S. Customs volunteer firefighter Michael Saber drinks water from a fire hydrant in the rubble of the World Trade Center towers. Photo by Yoni Brook.

They were as young as 18 and they were as old as 72. They were men and they were women. They included both a teenaged volunteer with the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the highest ranking uniformed fire officer in the New York City Fire Department. They were Christian. They were Muslim. They were Jewish. They were atheist and agnostic. They were diverse and they were brave and in that moment they were heroes. They were American and on that day they were the very best of America.



They were Peter J. Ganci Jr., William M. Feehan, Ronald Paul Bucca, Mychal Judge, Chief Gerard A. Barbara, Chief Donald J. Burns, Chief Matthew Lancelot Ryan, Lt. Paul Thomas Mitchell, Chief William McGovern, Chief Richard Prunty, Faustino Apostol Jr., Lt. Thomas O'Hagan, Chief John P. Williamson, Chief Orio Palmer, Lt. Stephen G. Harrell, Lt. Philip Scott Petti, Chief Thomas Patrick DeAngelis, Thomas McCann, Chief Dennis Lawrence Devlin, Chief Edward F. Geraghty, Lt. Charles William Garbarini, Carl Asaro, Alan D. Feinberg, Chief John M. Paolillo, Chief Frederick Claude Scheffold Jr., Lt. Charles Joseph Margiotta, Lt. Geoffrey E. Guja, Lt. Anthony Jovic, Chief Joseph Grzelak, Michael Leopoldo Bocchino, Chief John Moran, Chief Lawrence T. Stack, Chief Dennis Cross, Chief Joseph Ross Marchbanks Jr., Capt. Joseph D. Farrelly, Capt. Thomas Moody, Capt. Timothy M. Stackpole, Chief Thomas Theodore Haskell Jr., Capt. Martin J. Egan Jr., Capt. William O'Keefe, Lt. Andrew Desperito, Michael T. Weinberg, Calixto Anaya Jr., James C. Riches, Thomas G. Schoales, Paul A. Tegtmeier, Manuel Del Valle Jr., Paul Beyer, Thomas Holohan, William R. Johnston, Robert Parro, Lt. Gregg Arthur Atlas, Jeffrey James Olsen, Paul Pansini, Capt. William Francis Burke Jr., Thomas Anthony Casoria, Michael J. Elferis, Vincent D. Kane, Martin E. McWilliams, Robert McPadden, James Nicholas Pappageorge, Hector Luis Tirado Jr., Mark P. Whitford, Capt. Thomas Farino, Dana R Hannon, Robert W. Spear Jr., Lt. Kevin Pfeifer, David Arce, Michael Boyle, Robert Evans, Keithroy Marcellus Maynard, John Giordano, Lt. John F. Ginley, Kevin Bracken, Michael D. D'Auria, Bruce Gary, Michael F. Lynch, Steven Mercado, Paul John Gill, Jose Guadalupe, Leonard Ragaglia, Christopher Santora, Lt. Peter L. Freund, Robert Lane, Christopher Mozzillo, Stephen P. Russell, Lt. Robert B. Nagel, Ruben D. Correa, Lt. Paul Richard Martini, Gregory Joseph Buck, Christopher Pickford, John Albert Schardt, Lt. Robert Francis Wallace, Karl Henry Joseph, Shawn Edward Powell, Kevin O. Reilly, Lt. Carl John Bedigian, John Joseph Florio, Michael Edward Roberts, Kenneth Thomas Watson, Daniel Suhr, Lt. Kenneth Phelan, Steven Coakley, Neil Joseph Leavy, John Chipura, David Paul DeRubbio, Brian McAleese, Stanley S. Smagala Jr., Lt. Brian G. Ahearn, Frank Bonomo, Michael Scott Carlo, Jeffrey Stark, Eugene Whelan, Edward James White III, Lt. Steven Bates, Nicholas Paul Chiofalo, Francis Esposito, Lee S. Fehling, Lawrence G. Veling, Lt. Glenn E. Wilkinson, Ronnie Lee Henderson, Michael Ragusa, Anthony Rodriguez, Raymond R. York, Chief John Fanning, Lt. John A. Crisci, Dennis M. Carey, Martin N. DeMeo, Thomas Gardner, Jonathan R. Hohmann, Dennis Scauso, Kevin Joseph Smith, Capt. Frederick Ill Jr., Michael J. Clarke, George DiPasquale, Denis P. Germain, Daniel Edward Harlin, Carl Molinaro, Dennis Michael Mulligan, Capt. Patrick J. Brown, Lt. Kevin W. Donnelly, Michael Carroll, James Raymond Coyle, Gerard Dewan, Jeffrey John Giordano, Joseph Maloney, John Kevin McAvoy, Timothy Patrick McSweeney, Joseph J. Ogren, Steven John Olson, Capt. David Terence Wooley, Lt. Daniel O'Callaghan, Joseph Angelini Jr., Peter Brennan, Michael E. Brennan, Michael Haub, Michael F. Lynch, Samuel Oitice, John James Tipping II, Lt. Vincent Francis Giammona, Lt. Michael Warchola, Louis Arena, Andrew Brunn, Thomas Hannafin, Paul Hanlon Keating, John A. Santore, Gregory Thomas Saucedo, Capt. Vernon Allan Richard, George Cain, Robert Joseph Foti, Charles Mendez, Richard Muldowney Jr, Vincent Princiotta, Lt. Vincent Gerard Halloran, Gerard Baptiste, John P. Tierney, Jeffrey P. Walz, Sean Patrick Tallon, Lt. Michael Quilty, Michael F. Cammarata, Edward James Day, John F. Heffernan, Richard John Kelly Jr., Robert King Jr., Matthew Rogan, Angel L. Juarbe Jr., Michael D. Mullan, Capt. Walter G. Hynes, Thomas Hetzel, Dennis McHugh, Thomas E. Sabella, Gregory Stajk, Lt. Joseph Gerard Leavey, Richard Lanard Allen, Arthur Thaddeus Barry, Thomas W. Kelly, Scott Kopytko, Scott Larsen, Douglas E. Oelschlager, Eric T. Olsen, Lt. Raymond E. Murphy, Robert Curatolo, Capt. John R. Fischer, John Patrick Burnside, James Michael Gray, Sean S. Hanley, David Laforge, Robert Thomas Linnane, Robert D. McMahon, Gerald T. Atwood, Gerard Duffy, Keith Glascoe, Joseph Henry, William E. Krukowski, Benjamin Suarez, Capt. Daniel J. Brethel, Stephen Elliot Belson, Lt. Glenn C. Perry, Matthew Barnes, John Michael Collins, Kenneth Kumpel, Robert Minara, Joseph Rivelli, Paul G. Ruback, John Marshall, Capt. Frank Callahan, James Andrew Giberson, Vincent S. Morello, Michael Otten, Michael Roberts, Joseph Spor Jr., Peter Alexander Bielfeld, Lt. Joseph Gullickson, Patrick Byrne, Salvatore B. Calabro, Brian Cannizzaro, Thomas J. Kennedy, Joseph Maffeo, Terence A. McShane, Capt. Vincent Brunton, Thomas Richard Kelly, Henry Alfred Miller Jr., Dennis O'Berg, Frank Anthony Palombo, Lt. Christopher P. Sullivan, Lt. Robert M. Regan, Joseph Agnello, Vernon Paul Cherry, Scott Matthew Davidson, Leon Smith Jr., Peter Anthony Vega, Christian Michael Otto Regenhard, Andrew Jordan, Michael Kiefer, Thomas Mingione, John T. Vigiano II, Sergio Villanueva, Michael Joseph Cawley, Capt. Terence S. Hatton, Lt. Dennis Mojica, Joseph Angelini Sr., Gary Geidel, William Henry, Kenneth Joseph Marino, Michael Montesi, Gerard Terence Nevins, Patrick J. O'Keefe, Brian Edward Sweeney, David M. Weiss, Lt. Peter C. Martin, William David Lake, Daniel F. Libretti, John Napolitano, Kevin O'Rourke, Lincoln Quappe, Edward Rall, Christopher Joseph Blackwell, Thomas Foley, Thomas Gambino Jr., Raymond Meisenheimer, Donald J. Regan, Gerard Patrick Schrang, Capt. Brian Hickey, Lt. Kevin Dowdell, Terrence Patrick Farrell, William J. Mahoney, Peter Allen Nelson, Durrell V. Pearsall, Capt. Louis Joseph Modafferi, Lt. Harvey Harrell, Lt. Joseph A. Mascali, John P. Bergin, Carl Vincent Bini, Michael Curtis Fiore, Andre G. Fletcher, Douglas Charles Miller, Jeffrey Matthew Palazzo, Nicholas P. Rossomando, Allan Tarasiewicz, Robert J. Crawford, Chief Raymond Matthew Downey, Chief Charles Kasper, Capt. Patrick J. Waters, Lt. Timothy Higgins, Lt. Michael Thomas Russo Sr., Capt. James M. Amato, Lt. Edward A. D'Atri, Lt. Michael Esposito, Lt. Michael N. Fodor, Brian Bilcher, Gary Box, Thomas M. Butler, Peter Carroll, Robert Cordice, David J. Fontana, Matthew David Garvey, Stephen Gerard Siller, Lt. William E. McGinn, Eric Allen, Andrew Fredericks, David Halderman, Timothy Haskell, Manuel Mojica, Lawrence Virgilio, Lt. Michael K. Healey, Thomas Patrick Cullen III, Robert Hamilton, Michael J. Lyons, Gregory Sikorsky, R. Bruce Van Hine, Tarel Coleman, Thomas Kuveikis, Peter J. Langone, Patrick Lyons, Kevin Prior, Lt. Ronald T. Kerwin, Ronnie E. Gies, Joseph Hunter, Jonathan Lee Ielpi, Adam David Rand, Timothy Matthew Welty, Paramedic Carlos R. Lillo, Paramedic Ricardo J. Quinn, Supt. Ferdinand V. Morrone, Chief James A. Romito, Lt. Robert D. Cirri, Insp. Anthony P. Infante Jr., Capt. Kathy Nancy Mazza, Sgt. Robert M. Kaulfers, Donald James McIntyre, Walter Arthur McNeil, Joseph Michael Navas, James Nelson, Alfonse J. Niedermeyer, James Wendell Parham, Dominick A. Pezzulo, Antonio J. Rodrigues, Richard Rodriguez, Bruce Albert Reynolds, Christopher C. Amoroso, Maurice V. Barry, Clinton Davis Sr., Donald A. Foreman, Gregg J. Froehner, Uhuru Gonga Houston, George G. Howard, Thomas E. Gorman, Stephen Huczko Jr., Paul William Jurgens, Liam Callahan, Paul Laszczynski, David Prudencio LeMagne, John Joseph Lennon Jr., John Dennis Levi, James Francis Lynch, John P. Skala, Walwyn W. Stuart Jr., Kenneth F. Tietjen, Nathaniel Webb, Michael T. Wholey, Sgt. Timothy A. Roy Sr., Sgt. John Gerard Coughlin, Sgt. Rodney C. Gillis, Sgt. Michael S. Curtin, Det. Joseph V. Vigiano, Det. Claude Daniel Richards, Moira Ann Smith, Ramon Suarez, Paul Talty, Santos Valentin Jr., Walter E. Weaver, Ronald Philip Kloepfer, Thomas M. Langone, James Patrick Leahy, Brian Grady McDonnell, John William Perry, Glen Kerrin Pettit, John D'Allara, Vincent Danz, Jerome M. P. Dominguez, Stephen P. Driscoll, Mark Joseph Ellis, Robert Fazio Jr., Keith Fairben, Richard Pearlman, Mario Santoro, Yamel Merino, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, Marc Sullins, Mark Schwartz, Jeff Simpson, and Keith Roma. For them, for their friends and their families, and for all of those they sacrificed themselves to protect, we will never forget.


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