Remembering Lt Joseph "Joey" Agnello FDNY Ladder Co 118 Brooklyn Heights October 10 1965 - September 11 2001
Joseph Agnello was a career firefighter with the Fire Department of New York... but was described by his family and friends as not being defined by his life's work... rather a guy who loved his wife VinnieCarla... his kids Salvatore and Vincent... took pleasure in his dogs... and thoroughly loved life.
On the morning of September 11 2001... Agnello and 5 of his fellow firefighters aboard Ladder 118 responded to what was to become their final fire. They parked their rig at West and Vesey Street by the towers... and vanished into the thick cloudy smoke and soot of the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel.
Pastor Michael Carrano at Assumption Church located around the corner from the firehouse described Joey and the crew of Ladder 118 as having "hearts of gold that you can't find at the end of any rainbow."
Accounts by those rescued speak of the Ladder 118 crew ushering hundreds of the building occupants to safety. Survivor Bobby Graff says... "Their families should be proud of them. They knew what was going on, and they went down with their ship. They weren't going to leave until everyone got out. They must have saved a couple hundred people that day. I know they saved my life."
Graff recalls... "Joey helped me bring handicapped people down from the 19th floor in the elevator. We then went up to the 12th floor where people were screaming and brought them down. Then the mayday call came on the radio and the command was 'Get out! Get out! Get out!'. Joey and the other guys used their bodies like a brace... like a riot squad... directing the people out. They knew what was coming, but they stayed where they were. I'll never forget that. The men of Ladder 118 died side by side."
Upon hearing the story of Joey's final moments... Agnello's widow VinnieCarla said... "I always knew that my husband died helping others, and I knew in my heart that he was helping people up until the minute he died, but I didn't know how. This is so incredible - knowing what happened that day is a gift that I can give my sons."
A memorial service for Joey Agnello was held October 10 2001. He was recovered from the fallen towers in the early morning hours of January 1 2002... and was laid to rest January 4.
According to Agnello's wife VinnieCarla... Joey was a simple man... and never took credit for his accomplishments... nor wanted for material possessions. He found comfort and happiness in the little things... being with his family and looking up at the sky on a starry night. "Sometimes..." She says... "when I take the dogs to the beach for a walk and I look up... I know he's still around. Like tonight. There's the most beautiful moon... and I know he's with me."
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
(Eyewitness accounts and comments by VinnieCarla Agnello were retrieved from articles in New York's Newsday. Official memorial poster designed by Lee Hanson and can be ordered from http://www.imagefactorygraphics.com)