On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was at home. My first appointment of the day wasn’t until 10:30, so I was checking e-mail and listening to KDKA radio when the news bulletin came over the air that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Like most, I assumed initially that it was probably some freak accident with a small plane. A few minutes later, when I turned the television on, assumption turned to disbelief. Not long after, disbelief turned to horror as I watched the second plane hit WTC2 live.
While all this was unfolding before us, New York’s finest of the Fire Department and Police Department were beginning the largest rescue in history. Among them were the fire fighters of Ladder Company 13, who share a fire house at 159 E. 85th Street with Engine Company 22 and Battalion 10.
With the gallant fire fighters of Ladder 13 was my honoree, Gregory M. Stajk. FF Stajk was 46 years old. According to published sources Mr. Stajk, a bachelor, was beloved by his comrades – he was always willing to work holidays and extra shifts, to give other fire fighters with wives and children time with their families. FF Stajk was a 19-year veteran of the FDNY.
All five members of Ladder 13 who responded on that infamous morning were lost. The others with Gregory Stajk were: Captain Walter Hynes, FF Thomas Hetzel, FF Dennis McHugh, and FF Thomas Sabella. Four members of Engine 22 also gave their lives to save others: FF Thomas Casoria, FF Michael Elferis, FF Vincent Kane, and FF Martin McWilliams. (links are to the 2,996 Project sites for those individuals’ tributes).
On this, the fifth anniversary of 9/11, please pray for our Nation, the victims of the attacks, and for all the fire fighters, police officers, EMTs, paramedics, soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and coastguardsmen who daily risk their lives for the safety of the rest of us, and our way of life.
God Bless you Greg. For your sacrifice, I am forever grateful. 9/11 was your finest hour.
Please visit as many of the 2,996 Project Memorial Pages today as you can. The complete list of names and sites is found here. Also, as timeless as ever, I recommend to you Winston Churchill’s words in “You Do Your Worst – and We Will Do Our Best.”
This will be my only posting today. The memory of Firefighter Gregory M. Stajk, FDNY and the other 2,995 souls taken on September 11, 2001 should stand alone.