Saturday, September 10, 2005

ANOTHER PROUD DAY FOR TRAGIC FAMILIES

ANOTHER PROUD DAY FOR TRAGIC FAMILIES

By STEVE DUNLEAVY
Fri Sep 9, 6:00 AM ET

ON THATsunny day of Sept. 11, which will always be remembered as one of the darkest days in our history, Ed Beyea was trapped on the 27th floor of the south tower, imprisoned in his wheelchair.

Old Abe Zelmanowitz, Ed's co-worker and fast buddy at Blue Cross and Blue Shield, refused to leave his side. Capt. William Burke of Manhattan's Engine 21 had just evacuated his men from the approaching inferno.

He made his way to Ed and Abe, and Abe made a call to his family, telling them that it was OK because the firefighter was there.

"He would not leave these two friends and, of course, at 10:46, when the tower went down, we never saw him again," said Burke's sister Janet Roy. Janet will be one of today's recipients at the White House, at a ceremony presided over by President Bush, of the Medal of Valor.

All representatives of firefighters and cops killed on that day of monstrosity will be honored.

"I am honored, but Bill earned it," said Janet. "He was a handsome bachelor, a real charmer who never met a stranger. His hobby was knowing everything about the battle of Gettysburg, and on dates he would take his girlfriends to Grant's Tomb. Not so romantic, perhaps, but they all came back."

Two Bay Ridge kids, Joanne and Gerard, grew up two doors from each other, and when Joanne was 21 and Gerard was 23, she became Mrs. Joanne Barbara.

Gerard became the assistant chief of the Fire Department, 30 years on the job, and on that terrible day, the building rumbled, the heavens cried and Chief Barbara would never be seen again.

"That morning was just your regular morning. He went to work, I went to work, we both said 'See ya tonight,' " Joanne recalled.

Maureen Fanning remembers the last words of her husband, Battalion Chief Jack Fanning, of Hazmat Operations, Squad 285, in Maspeth, Queens.

"I woke up about 3 or 4 in the morning worried about our 5-year-old son, Patrick. Jack got up from bed and said, using Patrick's nickname, 'Packy is just fine.' Those were his last words to me."

All that was found of Battalion Chief Fanning was his helmet, on March 19, 2002.

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