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Thread: About John

  1. #1
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    About John

    He Warned the Senate This Day Could Come

    September 26, 2001

    John J. Fanning already was a hero before the World Trade Center terrorist attack.

    The New York City firefighter once plunged into the treacherous East River to rescue the passengers of a helicopter that had crashed. Another time, he saved a boy dangling from cables in an empty elevator shaft between the third and the fourth floors of a burning building in the Bronx.

    The West Hempstead resident eventually became one of the fire department's leading experts on hazardous materials and anti-terrorism. In May, he testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on the topic, warning that much more needed to be done to prepare New York City for a terrorist attack.

    Chief Fanning's words now seem bitterly ironic to his family. He was in charge of supervising the first firefighters at the scene of the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, and is among the missing.

    His family is clinging to hope that he will be found alive. One son, Ryan Fanning, 29, a corrections officer at the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead, travels from his home in Suffolk to the disaster site every day, leaving at 5:30 a.m. and getting home about 10 p.m.

    He is hoping rescue workers will somehow pull his father - injured, but alive - from the huge mound of rubble. But he acknowledges the chances of that happening are dimming.

    "I'm holding out hope, but I've been" at the site of rubble and twisted metal girders, he said. "I see it on fire. I don't see how anyone's living in there."

    John Fanning, 54, chief of the Hazardous Materials Operations Unit based on Randall's Island, rushed to the World Trade Center immediately after the first plane struck and was there to see the second one hit. He quickly set up a command post in the lobby of one of the towers.

    Survivors have told his family that he was last seen helping the wounded. Most of his elite unit is listed as missing.

    His son said he found it sadly ironic that Fanning had spent years preparing for a major terrorist attack on the city, and now is among the missing himself.

    "My father's been [in the fire department] 32 years. Some of these guys have been on 40 years," Ryan Fanning said. "With all that experience, no one thought that building was going to go."

    John Fanning built a national reputation as an expert on terrorism and disasters, traveling the country to give lectures. He and members of his team were called in to investigate the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh for the first eight days after the attack, as well as the bomb set off at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. They also responded to Hurricane Marilyn in Puerto Rico in 1995.

    When a truck bomb blew up at the World Trade Center in 1993, Fanning was among the first firefighters on the scene, arriving within minutes of the explosion.

    His testimony in May before the U.S. Senate subcommittee on commerce, justice, state and the judiciary now seems prescient. "In the last few years, the fire service as a whole has made much progress in our preparations for responding to the consequences of terrorist acts, but there is much more work to be done," he said.

    He added that "firefighters and other responders will be" at the site of terrorist attacks "within minutes, some quite possibly becoming victims themselves."

    Both Ryan Fanning and his brother, Jeremy, 26, also a corrections officer at the jail in Riverhead, said their father is the bravest man they've ever known.

    "The regard for his life wasn't there," Ryan Fanning said. "It was for other people's lives."

    The loved ones also hoping for his return include his wife, Maureen, and two other sons, Patrick, 5, and Sean, 13.

    Fanning's only daughter, Jacqueline, 22, of Rocky Point, said Fanning was looking forward to her wedding next April. A week before the attack, he had e-mailed her the name of the song he wanted the two of them to dance to at the wedding: "Forever Young," by Bob Dylan, the firefighter's favorite musician.

  2. #2
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    Cary, NC
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    Jack Fanning

    Jack,
    You are forever in our hearts - continue to watch over Maur and the boys from above.
    Love ya,
    Eileen

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