Friday, August 19, 2016

The Fischer King

Lt. John R. Fischer, Ladder Company 20, was an eighteen-year-veteran of the FDNY when he and six of his firefighters died at Ground Zero on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.   He was a Staten Island boy, born and raised, and it was on Staten Island, in the West Brighton neighborhood where had grown up, which he and his, Jean, chose as the place to raise their family.  

At the time of his death, Lt. Fischer (who was posthumously promoted to Captain) and Jean were the proud parents of two sons, Timothy and John, and one daughter, Laura, who was sandwiched chronologically between her two brothers.  All three of the Fischer kids were active participants in sports and their dad went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that he was not only there to watch them play, but to coach them.  Timothy, John, and Laura all called their father "Coach" in at least one sport, be it basketball or soccer. 

He spent the final seven years of his FDNY career at Ladder 20.  When he first joined the FDNY in 1983, after having spent several years as a special education teacher and a brief period of time working on Wall Street, he was assigned to Ladder Company 13 on Manhattan's East Side.  His promotion to Lieutenant happened in 1994 and with the new rank came a new assignment:  the 23rd Battalion on Staten Island.  He spent just six months working in the borough he called home his entire life before being transferred to his final assignment at Ladder 20. 

The final thing he did before he and his men headed into the maelstrom that was the World Trade Center on that terrible Tuesday morning was telephone his wife.  Sadly, Jean was not home to pick up the phone, as she was taking their three children to school.  He left her a message on their answering machine, likely trying to reassure her that everything was alright and he would see her and the kids later.  

Whether he believed those words when he spoke them or she believed them when she heard them matters not.  What matters is that he called and that at some point that morning she was able to hear his voice one final time.  Under those circumstances, it was the best they could do.  And all things considered, it was pretty damn outstanding. 

Lt. John R. Fischer,
Ladder 20, FDNY
(Promoted to Captain


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