Friday, August 21, 2015

"Death Before Shame"

Durrell V. Pearsall, Jr., all 6'2" and 285 pounds of him, capable of bench pressing 455 pounds, cut an imposing figure as a member of Rescue 4 in Queens.  His facade was fierce but, according to his squad mate, FF Liam Flaherty, FF Pearsall owned a smile that "could warm a room right up."  

FF Pearsall was larger than life, both physically and metaphorically.  He was a proud and passionate member of the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums band and traveled with the band to Ireland and Scotland to perform.  He was the captain of the FDNY's football team - "The Bravest" - on which he played offensive tackle, which position he had played for four years at C.W. Post.  

"Bronko" Pearsall, an only child whose parents had predeceased him, was in the company of men he thought of as his family when he died on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  He was born, raised, and lived in Hempstead, N.Y., where he followed in the footsteps of his father by serving as a member of that town's volunteer fire department, which his dad did for fifty-seven years. As a collegiate football offensive lineman, he had tipped the scales at 300 pounds.  His nickname - an homage to the great Chicago Bears star Bronko Nagurski - grew out of his mother Carmela's belief  when he was a child that her then young son's destiny lay in sports.   Little did she know at that time that he had much bigger plans. 

It took just about a month for the body of FF Pearsall to be recovered from the rubble at Ground Zero.  He was taken home to Long Island, buried and saluted at an Irish wake that most likely would have produced one last room-warming smile.  

FF Durrell "Bronko" Pearsall, Jr.
Rescue 4 - FDNY


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