Like many of you, after 9/11 I was searching for a way to serve my community and country beyond being a career firefighter. It was Chris Jacques who encouraged me to apply to MATF1.
At the beginning of November 2001, I went to my first funeral. At the time I thought it would be a one time tribute from me to FDNY and I would get on with life.
At that first funeral I bumped into an FDNY firefighter who thanked me for coming and asked what firehouse I was sleeping at while I was in NYC. I replied I was in a hotel. He looked at me and told me in very frank language to check out of that hotel and proceed to his firehouse in Queens, Engine 303 & Ladder 126. That turned into an intense year and a half long experience of traveling down 2 or 3 times a month and staying over at that firehouse and going to memorial services. I can’t remember how many I went to. I went until the funerals and memorials were done sometime around June 03.
I shared such a close relationship with this firehouse, hell even my wife stayed there once, that my wife and I were invited to their Company dinner dances two years straight. I ran the 2003 NYC marathon as their guest. And each time I went down there I would go to Station 10/10 and be a gopher for them, helping with the plywood sheets with all the patches & tee shirts tacked on them, sorting boxes of fundraiser tee shirts they stored there, running bottled water out to the brothers working the pile. I went until the last piece of debris was removed.
At one of the Company dinner dances the members if 303 & 126 presented me with a plaque expressing their appreciation for my attendance. I felt humbled and undeserving. They define the brotherhood.
In 2003 I was fortunate enough to become a member if MATF1. I didn’t realize it at first, but this is exactly what I was searching for to more actively serve my country. It’s been the honor of my life to be associated with all if you.
Rescue Squad B