New York Post
September 18, 2001


NYPD PROFILES IN COURAGE —THOSE MISSING FROM THE CITY'S FINEST

LARRY CELONA and DAREH GREGORIAN

They're different ages, different sexes, different races and had different specialties, but the 23 missing NYPD officers all have one thing in common: They're the Finest.

"These are heroes beyond compare," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch. "We won't rest until we make sure they can go home to their families."

Among the missing are one of the city's most highly decorated cops, Detective Joseph Vigiano of Emergency Service Unit Truck 2, who'd been shot three times in the line of duty, but kept going back out to safeguard the city streets.

Officers Ronald Kloepfer and Santos Valentin of ESU Truck 7 were trained as snipers, but renowned throughout their elite unit for their big hearts. Sgt. Rodney Gillis, of ESU Truck 8, is known for keeping his men loose with his deadpan sense of humor.

The ESU was hit with the highest number of missing heroes, including Sgt. Michael Curtin and Officer John Dallara of Truck 2, Officers Brian McDonnell, Thomas Langone and Paul Talty, of Truck 10, Officers Walter Weaver, Jerome Dominguez and Vincent Danz of Truck 3, and Sgt. John Coughlin and Officer Stephen Driscoll of Truck 4. Another emergency specialist among the missing is Detective Claude Richards of the Bomb Squad.

John Perry of the 40th Precinct in The Bronx was off duty and on his way to Police Headquarters to file his retirement papers when he saw the carnage break out, and immediately rushed to the scene. Sgt. Timothy Roy of the Bus Squad had been on his way to traffic court when he did the same.

Officers Robert Fazio and Moira Smith of the 13th Precinct were two of the first officers at the World Trade Center, and they ran into chaos with no hesitation. James Leahy of the Sixth Precinct ran up to the 20th floor of the blazing north tower with four firefighters.

Officer Glenn Pettit was stationed in the Police Academy, but ran into the pandemonium with a video camera to help investigators find out what had happened.

From Transit District 4, the missing are a grandfather, Ramon Suarez, and an officer who's only been on the force three years, Mark Ellis.

The PBA has its own fund to help the family of fallen officers. Anyone interest in making a donation should send a check to the PBA Widows and Children Fund, 40 Fulton St., New York, New York 10038.



Officer John W. Perry was in Police Headquarters putting in his retirement papers when the call came in about an airplane crash at the World Trade Center.

Perry, 38, and a friend, Capt. Tim Pearson, rushed off to the scene. Pearson lived to tell about the harrowing ordeal. Perry is considered missing.

"He did what any cop would do," said Perry's mother, Patricia, brushing off praise that her son was a hero.

"That's what they do: They run in and help people during their time in need."

Even though he was retiring, Perry, assigned to the 40th Precinct, had a great future ahead of him.

The son of a psychiatrist in the New York State Department of Mental Health, Perry had a law degree and spoke Russian, French and German, and was learning Swedish.

He was also a member of the Nassau County Civil Liberties Union and was working in former NYCLU head Norman Siegel's campaign for public advocate.

But, his mother recalled, "As long as I could remember, John always wanted to be a police officer.

"It offered two things. He liked the military aspect, the uniform and guns. And he liked helping people.

Perry graduated from NYU Law School in the same class as John F. Kennedy Jr.

But because he hadn't been able to use his legal training, decided to leave the force after nine years and go into private practice, his family said.

"He always liked new challenges, so we encouraged him to do it," his mother said.

Pearson told her he and Perry reached the north tower and were helping people out of the building.

They both realized the danger at one point and began to run to safety — but only Pearson made it.

Perry's mother hasn't given up hope of finding him.

"I won't let myself," she said.

"He's a daredevil but a calculated daredevil. He's also a survivor and a fighter.

"If anybody can make it out of this tragedy, it's him."


Emergency Service Unit Officer Mark Demarco crawled out of hell toward a pinpoint of light.

Demarco and other ESU cops were standing in the lobby of the south tower of the World Trade Center last Tuesday morning when the sky fell in.

"The walls shook and the ceilings came down," Demarco said of the horrific collapse. "I couldn't breathe. I lay on the ground, and debris was piling up on my back."

Crying, Demarco recalled how he thought of his wife and children, sure he was going to die.

"After a while, I looked up; it was total darkness, and I didn't know if I was dead or alive," he said. "There was a little spot of light, and a few guys were able to crawl out."

Incredibly, Demarco and about six other ESU cops survived at the very center of the collapse.

But at least two cops who were with them didn't make it out.

And every day since then, Demarco and his mates have returned to that spot to dig, hoping to come upon Sgt. Mike Curtin and ESU Officer John D'Allara still alive.

Demarco and the other cops who keep going back to dig for their colleagues and other victims have a motto: "We haven't lost anyone yet," they tell each other, suggesting that as long as they continue searching, there is still hope.

Bill Beaury, another ESU cop who keeps going back to the rubble, said, "It's very frustrating, and it's very difficult. We know they are still in there, and we're trying our hardest to pull them out.

"When you walk out of the hole and you see all the people clapping and cheering for you, it sends chills up your spine," he said. "You feel like going back and doing another 15 hours."

Officer Marco Corovic was off duty the day of the disaster, but he rushed to the scene as soon as he got news of the terror attack.

Now, he returns every day to dig through the shifting rubble.

"All I'm thinking about right now is about my friends that are in there, and regardless of the risk, we're going to find them.