Category Archives: Better Angels Stories

Father Mychal Judge

As a small child, Fathey Mychal Judge sometimes gave his only quarter to a beggar on the street. Having lost his own father when he was six, Judge shined shoes at Penn Station to help his family survive. He would … Continue reading

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Deputy Commissioner William Feehan

Deputy Commissioner William Feehan, 71, was rumored to know the location of every single fire hydrant in New York City. When named Chief of Department in 1992, he was the first to have held every possible rank within the department. … Continue reading

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Chief of Department Peter Ganci Jr.

Chief of Department Peter Ganci, Jr. was the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the FDNY. He was three days shy of his 33rd anniversary with the department. This “smoke eating guy,” was a fireman’s fireman and beloved by his men. In … Continue reading

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A.C. Donald Burns

Assistant Chief Donald Burns, 61, had a 39-year career in the FDNY. On 9/11 he was a Citywide Tour Commander. Burns had set up a command center in the South Tower just minutes before it collapsed. Decorated five times during … Continue reading

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A.C. Gerard Barbara, CC

Assistant Deputy Chief Gerard “Gerry” Barbara, 53, was a Citywide Tour Commander. This 31-year FDNY veteran arrived on the scene before the second tower was hit. He then took the role of Incident Commander in Tower Two. Earlier in his … Continue reading

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B.C. John Paolillo

Battalion Chief John Paolillo was promoted to Deputy Chief of Special Operations Command, although the FDNY still lists him as BC of Battalion 11 on their memorial pages with an asterisk designating a posthumous promotion. Paolillo was acting in his … Continue reading

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B.C. Raymond Downey

BC Raymond Downey, in charge of Special Operations Command was a legend at 63. Affectionately referred to as “God” and “Master of Disaster,” he was one of the most experienced firefighters in the world. When “Better Angels” traveled the country, … Continue reading

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F.M. Ronald Bucca

Ronald Bucca, 47, a 23-year FDNY veteran, was promoted to Fire Marshall in 1992. Fire Marshalls investigate fires. On 9/11, he immediately knew it was a terrorist attack. His wife said, “He had been expecting something like that for a … Continue reading

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B.C. Charles Kasper, SOC

Battalion Chief Charles Kasper, 54, of Special Operations Command, was home with his family that Tuesday morning when his beeper rang. He hopped on an engine near his Staten Island home to race to the scene. “Drive it like it’s … Continue reading

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Firefighter Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford, 62, was with Safety Battalion 1. A firefighter for over 32 years, he sometimes talked about retiring but could never bring himself to actually do it. He was the father of five grown children, two of whom are … Continue reading

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