New York Daily News

November 8, 2001

Tearful Salute To 2 Twin Tower Heroes

Kin, pals turn out to honor firefighter, cop

By JONATHAN LEMIRE, WARREN WOODBERRY and OWEN MORITZ
Daily News Writers

Fazio
Relatives and colleagues of Robert Fazio Jr. mourn at his memorial service.

Kevin Bracken was remembered yesterday as a firefighter who raced up the "down staircase" of the World Trade Center, because that symbolized his life's philosophy.

Police Officer Robert Fazio Jr. was saluted as a 17-year veteran who could put his mind to anything — even trying to rescue stranded civilians in the twin towers.

As the two-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 disaster nears — the anniversary is Veterans Day — friends, colleagues and families reminded New Yorkers that the tragedy and what their loved ones did on that date will not be forgotten.

In St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, Bracken's uncle and godfather, Michael Norton, recalled the 37-year-old firefighter's bravery.

"He went up the down staircase of the Trade Center and that's how he lived his life, never afraid of challenges," he said.

As thousands of mourners packed the massive cathedral, Bracken's widow, Jennifer, gave a brief but emotional eulogy.

"He was the best husband, best friend and best partner I could have hoped for," she said.

'Let's Honor Kevin'

Through the tears, she had this advice: "When we leave here, let's honor Kevin by ... taking chances."

The eight-year firefighter was a member of Engine Co. 40 on Manhattan's upper West Side. The company lost 11 men in the attack.

Firefighter Anthony Rucco fondly recalled Bracken's typical low-key description of a fire. "It was hot, smoky and we put it out," he said.

"Kevin was a great firefighter and a great person," Rucco told mourners. "We'll miss him."

Marc Saban, a friend, talked about how his friend lived life with a smile.

"He believed in the Bracken bounce, which was a series of really good things happening at once," Saban explained.

"And he knew he had it because of his wonderful friends and family."

"Few people possess more love than Kevin," added the Rev. John DeLendrick, "and there's no greater love than to lay down one's life for not only his friends, but also complete strangers."

Edward Cardinal Egan closed the service by observing that "because of brave people like Kevin, New York is now greater than ever."

Remembered

In St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, L.I., the 41-year-old Fazio was recalled as a colleague, friend and "the tickle monster" who entertained children.

Childhood friend Steven Gocinski talked of growing up with Fazio in South Hempstead, L.I. He was the "kind of friend you always counted on.

"Even at his busiest moment, Robert would take the time to stop and talk to you," Gocinski said.

"I've always been proud of my brother," added his sister, Carol. "He'd put his mind to doing anything, and seeing it through."

As hundred of mourners filled the cavernous cathedral for the bachelor officer — a police veteran of 17 years who enjoyed working on motorcycles, boats and cars — fellow Police Officer Leonides Rodriguez reflected on how he enjoyed working with Fazio.

"He showed me the ropes whenever I got to work with him," he said.

The comradeship was echoed by another officer, Rick Rodriguez, whose locker adjoined Fazio's.

"On day one, since I was a rookie, he never hesitated to say, 'Hi,' he said. "He always was sticking his hand out."

Besides his sister, he leaves his father, Robert, and his mother, Felicia.