A Chance to See Him Step Up

March 11, 2002

Special Operations Capt. Patrick Waters was always willing to step up, whether it was showing his fellow firefighters how to use the tiller truck at Ladder Co. 106 in Green Point, coaching first graders in basketball or roller hockey, or heading the PTA at the parish school in Glendale.

Recently, his wife, Janice, watched him step up one more time, when she was handed a four-minute video clip made by the French documentary filmmakers whose footage of the World Trade Center attack was televised on CBS last night.

On it, Waters has just rushed to the north tower, where a command post has been set up in the lobby. He checks in, gets his assignment and then leaves. In the final minutes of his life, she said, he is wearing "kind of a concentrated look."

"It was a little unsettling to watch it," she said. It is not easy for her to talk about, either.

"But after you watch it a couple of times, you feel better, seeing him doing his job, I guess."

His body was recovered Sept. 30. She is glad that through the documentary, she was given the chance to see him alive one last time.

Waters, 45, was always happy to do his job for the New York City Fire Department - his wife said it was almost "disgusting" how much he loved going to work in the morning.

Raised in Inwood, he had been a businessman, earning good money and doing lots of travel as an internal auditor for an insurance company, when his number came up on the FDNY test he had taken years earlier. He passed on the opportunity, but the attraction of the job "kept calling him" and finally, in 1983, he traded his jacket and tie for turnout gear and those shoulder patches with the World Trade Center standing out on the New York City skyline.

He worked for Engine Co. 217 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ladder Co. 108 in Williamsburg, Ladder Co. 106 and a string of other houses. By the time he made captain in 2000 and was assigned to the Haz-Mat Co. 1 in Maspeth, he knew every type of ladder truck the department owned and had won a citation for jumping into the icy East River to help rescue seven people after Greenpoint's India Street Pier collapsed in 1997.

But when his wife met him 25 years ago, what attracted him to her was something different: "He made me laugh," she said. "I'm too serious sometimes." She laughed at the memory. They would have been married 20 years next month.

One more memory she wanted to share: Her husband was a "really big" Yankees fan.

After the attack, the Manhattan law firm where she works as a legal secretary, Kaye Scholer LLP, gave the family World Series tickets, and their two boys - Christopher, 14, and Daniel, 10 - made up a big poster with Waters' picture on it.

"And they wrote on it, 'Yankee Fan To The End,'" she said, bursting into tears.

-- Elizabeth Moore (Newsday)


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