New York Daily News

October 6, 2001

2,000 Mourn Fallen Officer

First memorial for police victim of terrorist attack

Daily News Staff Writer

S ome 2,000 police officers turned out yesterday for the first memorial service for a city cop lost in the World Trade Center disaster.

They lined up 10 deep along a Long Island street to offer a white-gloved salute to the widow and daughters of Emergency Service Unit Officer Vincent Danz, 38, one of 23 Finest believed killed in the terror attack.

  Winifred Danz, 8, daughter of Police Officer Vincent Danz, clutches father’s hat during memorial service in Farmingdale, L.I., yesterday.

As Danz's family waited in a silver limousine outside St. Kilian Catholic Church in Farmingdale, the NYPD Emerald Society's Pipe and Drum Band marched slowly up Conklin Ave. tapping a solemn beat on the black-draped snare drums.

"Mommy, it's the bagpipes," cried out Danz's redheaded daughter, Emily, 5. His wife, Angela, walked into the church holding the hand of her oldest daughter, Winifred, 8, who carried her father's police hat.

During the Mass, Winifred hopped onto a step stool in front of the alter's lectern and read from Ecclesiastes.

"There is a time to be born and a time to die," the girl said. "A time to keep and a time to cast away."

Angela Danz, who was born in Dublin, stood before the overflow crowd of mourners who filled the church to read a letter she wrote to her husband, recalling how, as a new immigrant, she met him in a Southampton, L.I., pub.

"It would be 15 years in February that you walked into Buckley's Irish Pub and changed my life forever. I told you that day that I would marry you, and then you threw your head back and laughed," she said.

Emergency Service Unit Officer Vincent Danz

"I had just come here, and you were my personal tour guide. From the gas tanks of Queens to the World Trade Center, you loved New York and you knew everything. But then again, Vincent, you always knew everything."

The couple also has a third daughter, 6-month-old Abigail.

Deacon Jim Murphy, in a homily, said Danz, in his last words to his wife, left on their answering machine, showed his selfless nature.

"Hon, it's 9:50 and I'm at the World Trade Center," he said from his cell phone. "I'm up in the building. Say a prayer that we get some of these people out. I'm okay, but say a prayer for me. I love you."

Danz was in Tower 1 when it collapsed at 10:29 a.m.

"Some people have asked where was God on Sept. 11," Murphy said. "God was running into the World Trade Center with Vinny and our other heroes."

Mayor Giuliani praised Danz, a former Marine and a 14-year police veteran who joined the elite Emergency Service Unit in 1995, for his extraordinary sense of duty and heroism.

"He laid down his life for people who weren't his friends, people he didn't know, people he'd never get to meet," the mayor said.

So Many Saved

The deeds of the police and firefighters, he added, helped save some 25,000 office workers who were evacuated in the minutes after the suicide planes crashed.

Officer holds young boy during ceremony for Emergency Service Unit Officer Danz yesterday.

"That's never been done before in our history. Yes, this was the worst attack on America, but it's also the biggest rescue mission ever accomplished," he said.

Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said that when Danz entered the Police Department in January 1987, he took an oath to protect and serve.

"For 14 years, and up until his last breath, he did just that," Kerik said, noting that Danz had earned seven decorations.

First Deputy Commissioner Joseph Dunne mentioned that Danz, who also served as a reservist in the Coast Guard, was not scheduled to work the morning of Sept. 11.

"For reasons only God will know, Vinny was supposed to work a 4-to-12 shift, but switched it in order to attend engineering school" that night, Dunne said.

In a funeral without a coffin or a hearse, Danz's family members each placed a white rose in a wicker basket beneath a picture of him as a choir member sang "America the Beautiful."

Recalling a Comrade

Danz's colleagues at ESU Truck 3 of the Bronx remembered the fallen officer, an avid Rangers and Mets fan, as a "good E-man," a spit-and-polish cop who always dressed neatly and loved to kid around.

He took some ribbing over his height. "He was short, so he took a lot of short hits," said Detective Eddie Foley, who broke Danz in as an ESU cop. "We taped a measuring chart by the door to measure his growth spurts over the years, like you do for kids."

Most of all, his colleagues said, Danz lived for his wife and daughters, and they would tease him for racing out the door when his shift ended so he could see them.

"He adored his wife and kids," said Detective Eddie Foley, who trained Danz in the ESU. "That's all he ever talked about."

"He was great to his girls," said Dianne Langon, 43, his neighbor in Farmingdale for eight years. "He was home a lot with them. They were always riding bikes together, or taking walks or playing ball in the yard."