Monday, August 29, 2016

"Stay Golden"

FF Michael Cawley 
Ladder Co. 136 - FDNY

In the normal day-to-day of life, if an individual is enjoying breakfast with some friends and, suddenly, those friends with whom he is dining get called away to tend to an emergency, the individual might simply wish his friends well, bid them goodbye, and get on with his day.  Unless, perhaps if all of those who are gathered around the breakfast table are members of the FDNY and, the individual whose drop-in breakfast was irrevocably interrupted was FF Michael Cawley. 

Michael Cawley worked hard to join the FDNY, which he did in 1996.  Being a firefighter had been his father's dream but his dad's plans had been scuttled by poor vision.  On September 11, 2001, FF Cawley died in the line of duty at the World Trade Center.  He was thirty-two years young when he died.  His was a short life yet one long enough to permit him to realize his father's dream.  

A member of Ladder 136 in Elmhurst, FF Cawley spent the night of September 10, 2001 working an overtime shift at Engine 292.  At 8:00 a.m. on the 11th, he sat around the breakfast table with members of Rescue 4 in Woodside.  The men were still eating breakfast when the call came in about the hell that had just been unleashed in Lower Manhattan.  As Lt. Kevin Dowdell and his Rescue 4 firefighters saddled up, Michael Cawley asked him, "Think I could jump on?"  He did.  Dowdell and Cawley died together that morning at the World Trade Center. 

FF Michael Cawley never married and left behind neither a wife nor children.  He was survived by his parents and two siblings, including his younger brother, Brendan.  Following FF Cawley's death on September 11, 2001, Brendan Cawley joined the FDNY.  He had been on the job for four weeks when, on January 23, 2005, a day the FDNY dubbed "Black Sunday" he was critically injured during a building fire in the Bronx.  It took three years of intensive rehabilitation and therapy but Brendan Cawley returned to active duty at Ladder 27. 

Earlier this year, Brendan Cawley, the other firefighters who were injured that day, and the families of the firefighters who died were awarded a verdict of $183 Million against the City of New York and the owner of the building.

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