It’s still so hard to believe it will be eleven years this Tuesday. So many thoughts running through my head, so many memories flashing in unedited clips of a long ago news story that seems just like yesterday. It almost seems impossible that Sergio was a part of that story– almost. But my heart remembers– it will always, always, remember…
And as big of a story as that was, so much of my focus has been on ensuring that every one knows Sergio’s story- that he be remembered for who he was, and not just as a name amongst a long list of names. Every victim deserves that. After almost eleven years, numerous memorials, a street named in his honor, the Sergio Villanueva Soccer Foundation (thanks to Jonathan Kanovsky and the FDNY soccer club), and a feature film called Rebirth which will also be a part of the September 11th National Memorial & Museum, I am at peace knowing that I have done my part to keep Sergio’s legacy alive. Because of this, I wanted to expand my focus this year to include some other stories.
First, the stories of the five brave men who were on Ladder 132’s truck with Sergio that fateful morning. Of the six men, two were probationary firefighters- Sergio and Michael Kiefer. Two more, Andrew Jordan and Thomas Mingione, would never meet their unborn children. Battalion Chief Thomas Haskell, who was the Captain at the time, lost his brother Timothy from Squad 18. And John Vigiano also lost his brother Joe, a cop from the Emergency Services Unit. Though I never had the chance to meet any of them since Sergio was so new to the firehouse, I am deeply honored to know their families. Please follow the links to learn a little bit about them:
Firefighter Michael V. Kiefer:
Firefighter Andrew Jordan
Firefighter Thomas Mingione:
Battalion Chief Thomas Haskell
Firefighter Timothy Haskell
Firefighter John Vigiano and Detective Joe Vigiano
Another hero whom I never had the honor of meeting but had strong ties to Ladder 132/Engine 280 is Battalion Chief Matthew Ryan. Though he wasn’t on the truck with Sergio and the others, he was very much a part of their firehouse after serving as a Captain there for many years.
Battalion Chief Matthew Ryan