Saturday, September 17, 2016

Captain Dan

Captain Daniel Brethel 
Ladder 24 - FDNY

On what tragically proved to be the final morning of his life, Captain Daniel Brethel of Ladder 24 in Manhattan was off-duty.  His 24-hour shift had ended shortly before the alarm directing Ladder 24 to respond to the World Trade Center was issued.  Nevertheless, he did not hop into his car and drive home to Long Island.  Rather, he slid behind the wheel of FDNY Chaplain Father Mychal Judge's car and drove Father Judge to the scene.  

Captain Brethel had a well-earned reputation for staying cool under pressure and - even with the situation that confronted the FDNY as it responded to Lower Manhattan that morning - he remained true to it.  As he, his men, and other firefighters were rushing towards the Twin Towers, he shouted out, "Firemen will die here today.  Don't let it be you." 

Sadly, not very long after Captain Brethel arrived on the scene, he became one of the 343 members of the FDNY to die that morning.  He was outside of the Towers when he died, crushed by falling debris when the buildings collapsed.  Forty-three years young and a twenty-plus year veteran of the FDNY, he left behind his wife, Carol, and two daughters, Kristin and Meghan, who were fourteen and twelve years old, respectively, at the time of his death.  His wife noted, after his death that her husband loved two things in the world more than anything else:  His family and being a firefighter.  They were the two passions to which he devoted most of his time, energy, and attention.  

If you have a moment or two to spare today, then might I recommend that you spend it reading this wonderful tribute that Captain Brethel's long-time friend, John J. O'Brien, wrote on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.   I was happy that I did.  I suspect you might feel very much the same if you do. 


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