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Thread: 2 New York Area Firefighters Killed in Iraq

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    2 New York Area Firefighters Killed in Iraq

    By ALAN FEUER and ROBERT HANLEY

    Published: December 1, 2004, NY Times

    Ever since Christian Engeldrum shipped off to the war last month, a yellow sign has hung from the eaves of Ladder Company 61 in Co-op City in the Bronx. The sign read: "We support our troops. Ft. Engeldrum, L-61, Now Serving."

    Yesterday, the members of his company were forced to remove that sign. In a solemn ceremony, they replaced it with black-and-blue memorial bunting.

    Firefighter Engeldrum, 39, was killed while serving with the New York National Guard on Monday when a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy outside Baghdad. Another New York City firefighter, Daniel Swift, of Ladder Company 43 in Manhattan, was riding in the same vehicle and was injured in the attack. He is expected to recover.

    In a separate attack on Sunday, a volunteer firefighter from Cranford, N.J., Stephen C. Benish, 20, was killed while on patrol in Ramadi.

    The casualties came during one of the deadliest months in the war. According to the Pentagon, at least 135 United States troops had been killed in November, matching April as the deadliest month since fighting began in March 2003.

    Firefighter Engeldrum was the first New York City employee to die while serving in Iraq, Fire Department officials said. He was a sergeant in Company B, First Battalion of the 105th Infantry. He was called up by his unit in May and arrived in Iraq on Nov. 2, his family said.

    Two candles burned beside his photo on a table outside Ladder Company 61 yesterday afternoon. The men of his unit stood at attention as the bunting was displayed, their hands cupped at their waist.

    Inside the firehouse, a small shrine had been erected in his honor. It included a photo of Firefighter Engeldrum on Sept. 11, 2001. According to the caption, he had helped raise the first flag over ground zero after the attack.

    "Chris was the core of this house - everybody looked up to him," said Firefighter Mark Klinger, who had worked with Firefighter Engeldrum for the last five years. "An excellent firefighter, a good father, a good friend. That's all I can say."

    Near the bay of the firehouse, there is another photograph - this one showing Lt. Charles Gabarini, the only member of the firehouse to have died on 9/11.

    Firefighter Engeldrum had completed his service with the National Guard, but re-enlisted. He did so, his colleagues said, in outrage at the Sept. 11 attack. "It had an effect on him," said Lt. Brian Horton of Ladder Company 61. "His country was attacked, he was a soldier, and he wanted to defend it."

    Firefighter Engeldrum is survived by his wife, Sharon, and his two sons: Sean, 18, and Royce, 16. Royce's birthday, fire officials said, was the day his father died.

    The firefighter last spoke with his family the night before Thanksgiving.

    "He was glad to hear my voice," Mrs. Engeldrum recalled. "He was tired. He couldn't talk. He was going out on a mission. He just called to see if everything was O.K. here."

    At City Hall, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg praised Firefighter Engeldrum for having served not only in the Fire Department, but also in the Police Department. "Christian Engeldrum spent his life protecting the people of this city and protecting democracy," the mayor said in a statement. "As a firefighter, a police officer and a decorated member of our military, there was no risk he wasn't willing to take for his fellow New Yorkers and his fellow Americans."

    Thirty city firefighters are on active duty overseas. Since Sept. 11, 2001, 103 have been called to active duty.

    Firefighter Swift, who served with A Company of the 69th Infantry, was sent to Texas for retraining in the summer, his fellow firefighters said. He is being treated for his wounds in Germany before returning home.

    He visited his firehouse in East Harlem for the last time in September.

    Firefighter Swift is known around the firehouse as Swifty. He plays on a hockey team and is an all-around good guy, his colleagues said. Every two weeks, Firefighter Swift called his buddies from Iraq.

    Firefighter Swift had even asked his colleagues in New York to send flame-retardant hoods to him in Iraq. He hoped the hoods could help his fellow soldiers when they were attacked.

    "I thought he'd come home without a scrape on him," Firefighter John Davies said. "He's just one of those guys, you know?"

    Private Benish, who served with the Second Infantry Division, had joined the Cranford Volunteer Fire Department only months after graduating from Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, N.J. He served with the department from the summer of 2002 until he went to boot camp in March 2003, said Leonard Dolan, the department's chief.

    Chief Dolan said he was impressed with the firefighter's resignation letter. It read, in part, "I have a strong desire to serve my country in these troubling times," the chief said.

    In other letters to his colleagues written from Iraq, "He never expressed one bit of apprehension or fear," Chief Dolan said.

    Private Benish wrote in his letters of entering a mosque and finding weapons and explosives, Chief Dolan said. He also wrote of coming home on leave.

    "I can't wait," the chief quoted him as writing. "That's all I think about."

    In one of his final letters, Private Benish wrote of combat.

    According to the chief, he wrote: "I'm just happy, I guess, at getting a lot more of them rather than them getting me."



    Photo: Stephen C. Benish, top, was killed in Ramadi, Iraq. Christian Engeldrum, center, was killed by a bomb that wounded Daniel Swift, bottom.

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    FDNY Comrade Braved Injury to Aid His Pals

    FDNY COMRADE BRAVED INJURY TO AID HIS PALS

    By MURRAY WEISS, LORENA MONGELLI and HEIDI SINGER


    December 1, 2004 -- Army reservist Dan Swift saved another soldier's life and then went to help fellow city firefighter Chris Engeldrum when a car bomb ripped apart their Humvee outside Baghdad.

    "I tried to help, but I lost consciousness," the 24-year-old firefighter told his buddies in a phone call to Ladder Company 43 in East Harlem yesterday.

    Swift, a 24-year-old bachelor, also called his mom, Kate Daly, in upstate Carmel.

    "My son called to let me know he was injured," she told The Post.

    "He told me his Humvee blew up . . . I didn't know if he was missing a limb or what."

    He told her that after he got out of the gutted Humvee, he couldn't see with one eye.

    But he tried to help others

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    VET WAS BORN TO BE A HERO

    By MICHAEL WARNER

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    December 2, 2004 -- Chris Engeldrum wanted to be a firefighter from the time he uttered his first words.

    His grieving mom, Lenora, recalled yesterday how her son had had an obsession with the FDNY since childhood

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    LIFE AFTER DEATH FOR FIRE WIDOW

    BY MURRAY WEISS

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    December 2, 2004 -- The grieving widow of hero firefighter Chris Engeldrum will have something to remember him by forever

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    Red face�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Mayor Backs Plan to Hike Death Pay for FDNY Member Killed in Iraq

    Updated: 12-03-2004 02:36:20 PM

    Mayor Backs Plan to Hike Death Pay for FDNY Member Killed in Iraq


    JEFF PEGUES
    Courtesy of WABC - New York

    (New York -WABC, December 2, 2004) -- Firefighter and FDNY Sergeant Christian Engeldrum died in Iraq, killed by a car bomb near Baghdad earlier this week. Now, Mayor Bloomberg is championing a bill to allow Engeldrum to be classified as "killed in the line of duty" as if he were fighting a fire. Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Pegues has the story.

    Today the push to grant full line of duty benefits to the family of Chris Engeldrum picked up momentum, beginning with statements by the mayor who called the fallen firefighter turned national guardsman a hero.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg, (R) New York City: "He paid the ultimate price... he certainly deserves it."

    Mayor Bloomberg doesn't expect any roadblocks in getting others down at city hall to buy into the idea. After all many are now well aware of the commitment Engeldrum made to the city and its citizens, first as a police officer then as a firefighter who helped save lives on September 11th.

    He died serving his country in Iraq. The courageous national guardsman was killed on Monday in a terrorist attack in the war zone. The Uniformed Firefighter's Association believes he has earned full line of duty benefits, even though he died overseas.

    The death benefits will come at a time when Chris Engeldrum's widow is pregnant. Sources confirm that as Sharon Engeldrum mourns the loss of her husband, she is 3 months pregnant with the couple's third child.

    City Council Speaker Gifford Miller tells me he hopes full line of duty benefits conveys to Chris Engeldrum's growing family the feelings of a grateful city.

    Gifford Miller: "Hopefully it's a small gesture that will be meaningful in life of that little child."

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=37122

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    Two Proud Traditions Honor a Firefighter Killed in Iraq

    By ALAN FEUER

    Published: December 10, 2004

    The dress blue uniforms of the Fire Department spilled down one half of the steps outside St. Benedict's Roman Catholic Church in the Bronx yesterday. The dress greens of the National Guard spilled down the other.

    The mixture of these two proud traditions reflected the service of Christian Engeldrum. A father of two proud children, with another on the way, Sergeant Engeldrum, who was killed last month while serving in Iraq, was a firefighter with Ladder Company 61 in Co-op City in the Bronx and a sergeant in the New York National Guard.

    At his funeral yesterday, in the Throgs Neck neighborhood, there was talk of patriotism, heroism and duty to one's country. "It's how you're raised," said Lt. Col. Neil Skow, a guardsman and a firefighter, who came to mourn Sergeant Engeldrum. "We live in the greatest country in the world and we owe it something. The Police Department, the Fire Department, the Army - they're all honorable professions."

    When firefighters die, they are mourned with honor in accordance with tradition. The dead man's rig leads the funeral cortege. His helmet rests beside the altar. Bagpipes play "Amazing Grace." A helicopter shudders overhead.

    It is the same with soldiers: the folded flag, the crisp step of the honor guard, the stiff salutes.

    Sergeant Engeldrum's funeral was a snapshot of New York, an old New York, which the pundits and the pollsters never seem to talk about. The American Legion was handing out American flags. Old men from the neighborhood lined up to take them. The fire hydrants were painted red, white and blue.

    And firefighters by the thousands lined five blocks of Otis Avenue. It was hard to connect the small Bronx street, bright with Christmas lights and chilly in December, with the desert in Iraq - yet it was in Iraq that Sergeant Engeldrum, 39, was killed when his Humvee was torn to pieces by a roadside bomb.

    Another firefighter, Daniel Swift, was injured in the same attack, and when he stood up in the church yesterday - leaning on a crutch, a patch across his eye - the crowd erupted into hoo-ahs and applause.

    A third New Yorker, Pfc. Wilfredo F. Urbina, 29, of Baldwin on Long Island, was killed in the attack. His mother, Jeannette, attended Sergeant Engeldrum's funeral.

    The dignitaries in the front row shook Firefighter Swift's hand: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Gov. George E. Pataki, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor.

    In his eulogy, Mr. Bloomberg described the firefighters with an inscription from the firefighter memorial in Riverside Park. "Soldiers in a war that never ends," he said.

    "Chris Engeldrum fought crime on our streets," Mr. Bloomberg said. "He battled smoke and fire in our houses and high rises. And when duty called, he traveled 6,000 miles away to fight for our freedom."

    Firefighter Michael J. Schiraldi recalled Sergeant Engeldrum as "a child in a man's body." Drum, as Sergeant Engeldrum was known, would play with cap guns in the firehouse, he said, might throw a dish or two, and was famous for the rambling stories he would tell of fires past.

    "Not one of us wants to be here," Firefighter Schiraldi said. "We'd rather be wakened from a peaceful sleep, because not one of us wants to believe that Chris is gone."

    Before the Mass began, Teresa Purcell, the wife of Bob Purcell, Sergeant Engeldrum's former commander in the Guard, had said: "I'll always remember something Chris told me once. He said to me he wanted to teach his sons to give back to their country."

    Sergeant Engeldrum's older son, Sean, was the last to eulogize his father, who is to be buried today in Arlington National Cemetery. Sean is 18. His brother, Royce, is 16. Their mother, Sharon, is pregnant.

    Sean Engeldrum said his father was blessed with many titles - husband, nephew, firefighter, soldier, friend. "I want to give my own unique perspective," Sean Engeldrum said, "him as a dad."

    So he described how his father played with him with Matchbox cars, was always there, but still joked that he would kick Sean out of the house when it came time.

    "Being around him, I always felt protected and confident," he said. "My dad was the greatest man in the world. I only hope I can be half the man he was."





    Photo: Yoni Brook/The New York Times
    Mourners gathered Thursday in the Bronx for the funeral of Christian Engeldrum, a city firefighter and National Guardsman who was killed in Iraq. Another firefighter, Daniel Swift, above, was injured in the same attack.

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