Thursday, August 13, 2015

Invincible

And with the power of conviction 
There is no sacrifice...
- Pat Benatar

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the firefighters of Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 - "The Pride of Midtown" - headed south to the World Trade Center in an effort to ensure that they got as many of the buildings' occupants as they possibly could safely home to their families.  Fifteen firefighters from the firehouse that calls the Theatre District home never made it home to their own families. 

FF Jose Antonio Guadalupe was just thirty-seven years of age when he died on September 11, 2001.  He was a ten-year veteran of the FDNY.  He was one of the fifteen whose final ride was the one that carried him downtown to the Towers.   


He was survived by his wife, Elise, and his baby boy A.J.  FF Guadalupe was a quiet man, known to spend time reading anything upon which he could lay his hands.  He was a man who invited being considered a mentor for the young men who lived in and around his housing complex in Jamaica, Queens, using both his physical presence (he was 6'0" tall and 200 pounds) and the force of his personality to direct them.  He was, by all accounts, an effortless hero to those who knew him.  It was not what he set out to be.  It simply was what he turned out to be. 

As if FF Guadalupe's family had not suffered enough through his death, a second horror was to befall them towards the end of 2001.  It had initially been believed that Jose A. Guadalupe was the only member of "The Pride of Midtown" whose body had been recovered from the Towers and consistent with that belief, his family buried him on October 1, 2001.   Except it turned out that the body recovered was not that of FF Guadalupe.  It was in fact that of one of his brothers, Christopher Santora.  A heart-wrenching error that, in view of an incredible medical coincidence that both men shared (unbeknownst to one another) and in view of the Herculean task then and there confronting the Office of the Medical Examiner in New York City, was entirely understandable.  

Approximately three weeks before the tenth anniversary of the worst day of her life, FF Guadalupe's widow, Elise, remarried.  He remains, however, as much a part of her heart as he does a part of the Memorial where his name is etched along with the names of the other victims, including those of his brothers of the FDNY, whose lives all ended far sooner than they should have on that terrible Tuesday morning almost fourteen Septembers ago...


FF Jose A. Guadalupe - Engine 54

...but whose invincible spirit could not - and cannot - be broken. 

-AK 



2 comments:

Judith Pack said...

True heroes.

Adam Kenny said...

Agreed. Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing your thoughts and, in doing so, lending support to his family.