Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fidelis Ad Mortem

There are those who say that the New York Police Department is the world's finest.  I know that present Commissioner Ray Kelly feels that way.  I am not inclined to disagree with him.  Eleven years ago - on September 11, 2001 - the NYPD lost twenty-three members.  On December 4, 2001 it posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to its officers who answered their final call on that horrible Tuesday morning. 
 
Rodney Gillis was thirty-four years of age when he died while helping others on the morning of September 11, 2001.   Technically speaking he was supposed to be off when the first plane struck.  His shift had ended at 8:00 a.m.   Gillis was a Sergeant in the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit-8,  group of individuals that pays precious little mind to whether disaster occurs when they are "on" or "off".   He responded immediately to the scene.   He joined the NYPD in 1988 and earned the rank of sergeant in 1997. 
 
He was a supervisor in Unit 8.  His former boss - retired Lt. Richard Green - noted that Gillis' men loved and respected him.  He was tough, brave and fair and most of all, "a terrific guy."   He was also a man with diverse interests off of the job ranging from home remodeling to scuba diving.  At the time of his death in September 2001 Sgt. Gillis was engaged to be married.  In addition to his fiance he was survived by three children, his parents and his brother Ronald. 
 
Sgt. Gillis was believed to have been in the company of his old high school teacher John D'Allara, who as a member of ESU Truck 8 had also responded to the World Trade Center, somewhere deep inside the south tower when the building collapsed. 

John D'Allara was forty-seven years old on September 11, 2001.  He had joined the NYPD on July 25, 1987 and spent fourteen years as a member of the Emergency Services Unit.    D'Allara was a teacher who taught courses at two different high schools in the Bronx.  As a member of the ESU, D'Allara wrote the manual for operation of the ESU robot and taught other members of the unit how to operate it. 

He was a husband to his wife Carol and a father to their two sons, John and Nicholas, who were only seven and three years old when their dad was killed.  Sadly, John D'Allara's elderly parents endured a parent's worst fear when they outlived their son.   He was also survived by his twin brother Daniel.

John D'Allara was many things.  He was most assuredly a hero.  Do yourself the great favor of going here and clicking on the link that takes you to quite an extraordinary video that his family put together.  Watch it with the volume on. 

Moira Smith was the only female member of the NYPD who died on September 11, 2001.  She first was appointed to the Transit Police Department in 1988.  Approximately five and one half years later she was transferred to Precinct 13, which is where she remained until the date of her death.  She was but thirty-eight years old when she was killed and was eulogized at a memorial service held in St. Patrick's Cathedral on February 14, 2002, which would have been her thirty-ninth birthday. 

She was a police officer married to a police officer.  She and her husband Daniel met while they were both assigned to Transit District 4.  They were the parents of one child - a little girl they named Patricia Mary.  Patricia Mary had just celebrated her 2nd birthday on July 20, 2001. 

Perhaps by this point in her life - having just recently marked her eleventh birthday, Patricia Mary Smith has been introduced to something quite extraordinary that a man who met her mother only once has written about her.  Martin Glynn met Moira Smith for only a brief moment.  The impression she made upon him was indelible. 

She had the effect on a lot of people - as did her brothers in blue whose tour of duty ended as did hers on a bright, sunny Tuesday morning eleven Septembers ago.

Morning is morning, the evening falls
I have too much room in my bed, too many phone calls
How's everything?  Everything?
Everything, everything
You're missing, you're missing.

God's drifting in Heaven, Devil's in the mailbox
I got dust on my shoes, nothing but teardrops....

-AK

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