Firefighter Was Proud To Cast Vote

September 26, 2001

Two weeks ago, Keithroy and Vernon Maynard of Brooklyn went to vote together. Yesterday, Vernon Maynard returned to the polls with a heavy heart, carrying the spirit of his younger brother with him.

"I pulled that lever to the right as though both of us were pulling it," the older brother said. "I felt extra strong this morning. I had to get it done."

Keithroy Maynard, 30, a second- generation New York City firefighter, is missing. He had just started his shift at Engine 33 in Manhattan's East Village when the first hijacked airplane set the World Trade Center afire Sept. 11.

Earlier that morning, at his mother's suggestion, Maynard waited for his older brother so they could vote together for the primary. Vernon Maynard is a new citizen, and it was his first election.

For inspiration, the younger brother sang the Ray Charles version of "America the Beautiful." He also impersonated the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, pretending that each had just called to urge him to vote.

"He was full of life that morning," said Vernon Maynard, 34, a client account administrator at Chase Manhattan Bank.

After voting, Keithroy Maynard, who has a 6-year-old son, Keithroy Jr., drove his Pathfinder into downtown Manhattan. He dropped off a friend at Broadway before reporting for his 9 a.m. shift.

His family and friends are realistic but hopeful.

"I still got my fingers crossed," said his twin brother, Kevin, who has returned to New York from his job as an airline mechanic in Houston because of the tragedy. "I know the days are going by. ut there might be 6,000 miracles; there might be one."

His brother's love for firefighting stems from their late father, Capt. Reynold White, who retired in 1990 after 32 years with the New York City Fire Department. White also served as Montserrat's fire chief, from 1992-1995, before his death in 1999.

The Maynard brothers immigrated to New York with their mother, Pearl, from Montserrat in 1986. Keithroy graduated from Wingate High School, in Brooklyn, in 1990, and from Borough of Manhattan Community College, where he was president of the Caribbean Club, in 1995.

While attending college part-time, he worked full-time as a baggage handler for Continental Airlines at LaGuardia Airport. His family said he was the first Continental employee at the airport to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union and worked long hours to sign up other members. He even transferred to Newark Airport in 1997 so he could sign up even more members there.

After becoming a firefighter in 1999, assigned first to Engine 220 in Brooklyn, Maynard immediately joined the Vulcan Society, the organization that represents the department's black firefighters.

"He works tirelessly for the society," its president, Paul Washington, said of Maynard, who quickly was elected sergeant at arms. "He does a lot of things like visiting schools, supporting us in a lot of ways that a lot of guys don't like to contribute - a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work."

-- Herbery Lowe (Newsday)