Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Dope is That There's Still Hope

If you are of a certain age - and especially if you are a fan of iconic comedies, then the first image that likely pops into your mind's eye upon hearing the name "Niedermeyer" is one associated with this fictional character.  In "Animal House", ROTC Cadet Commander Douglas Niedermeyer worked hard to try to prove to others that he was "the man".   His results were decidedly mixed.

Alfonse Niedermeyer III never wasted a moment's breath on trying to prove his worth to others.  No such need ever existed.  At age forty, Officer Niedermeyer was already a sixteen-year veteran of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Department.  In 1992, he received a special citation for rescuing passengers from a US Airways jet that had skidded off a runway at LaGuardia Airport.  

Officer Niedermeyer and his wife Nancy lived in Manasquan, New Jersey with A.J., their son.  A.J. was just two years old when his dad died.  At the time of his death, on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Officer Niedermeyer was assigned to the Department's Commercial Vehicle Inspection Unit in Jersey City.  However, that morning, having just returned from a two-week vacation, when he saw what was happening in Lower Manhattan, he rushed to the scene to help.  He died while helping rescue people from the South Tower. 

On the final morning of his life, Officer Niedermeyer's final radio transmission came from the 14th floor of the South Tower.  He reported that the floor was clear and that he was headed up to the 50th floor to help more people.  Almost immediately thereafter, the South Tower collapsed.  

Al Niedermeyer graduated from Dayton University 1983.  His degree was in Public Relations.  A native of Queens, N.Y., he returned to the East Coast after college and later earned a Master's Degree in Police Studies from Seton Hall University.  When his college friend Phil Cenedella spoke of "Big Al" at a memorial service on the Dayton University campus in observance of the tenth anniversary of the attacks, he said that when friends had asked Al Niedermeyer why he had become a police officer, he told them simply that "he wanted to make a difference."

Indeed he did.  

When Al Niedermeyer died, he and his wife Nancy were the proud parents of one child - A.J.  However, in October 2001 Nancy Niedermeyer learned she was pregnant.  In May 2002, Al and Nancy Niedermeyer's second child was born.  Their daughter, whom Nancy named Angelica Joy, never met her dad but nevertheless feels the bond between them.  Her birth is proof - perhaps - that even from profound tragedy comes hope...

Alfonse J. Niedermeyer III


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