Facebook is amazing.

I’m sure no one could have told me back in the day while I was hanging out in the schoolyard that in the year 2011, I’d be living in Michigan and chatting with people over the internet.  I would’ve looked at you and said, “GET OUTTA HERE!”

Besides Facebook, we also have the ever popular electronic mail, Twitter, and Skype for forms of communication. (Last night in an e-mail, a friend informed me that a certain someone from the neighborhood still doesn’t have a computer. I won’t mention no names)

Social networking has put me in contact with so many wonderful people from the past. People I grew up with and of course the older guys from the neighborhood that I watched from afar.

A few days ago I caught up with someone from the neighborhood who, as a kid, I would often see around the neighborhood; I hung out with his younger brother from time to time. Both guys went on to become firemen.  We got to talking about the job, and the many guys from the neighborhood that became firemen. The total amount of guys from the neighborhood is staggering.

When you look in the eyes of a fireman you see their courage, the willingness to help others and of course their human compassion. Do not forget their toughness, attitude and determination.

Young kids look up to them. It’s like a wonderland when they visit a firehouse. Every young boy has owned a toy fire truck. Even now, when I pass a firehouse, I always glance at it. If there happens to be a firemen outside I always make it a point to say hello. When you see a fire truck zooming down the street on their way to a call or even in the parking lot of a supermarket, you look at it.

Face it, you’re in awe!

No one would ever dare say that a fireman’s job is easy – it’s arguably one of the toughest jobs in America; and in my eyes, they are grossly underpaid. These guys run into burning buildings when people are running out.  I know there’s no way I would ever be able to do it. I never even had a thought of becoming a firefighter as a kid. But looking back, boy would I have loved to possibly give it a shot. I would have loved to be part of their brotherhood.

It takes a special person to be a fireman. They are regular guys who give no thought of risking their lives for others. Let me put it this way, they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I found this essay on the noble profession:

What is a firefighter?
He’s the guy next door….
He’s a guy like you and me with warts and worries and unfulfilled dreams.
Yet he stands taller than most of us.
He’s a fireman….
A fireman is at once the most fortunate and the least fortunate of men.
He’s a man who saves lives because he has seen too much death.
He’s a gentle man because he has seen the awesome power of violence out of control.
He’s responsive to a child’s laughter because his arms have held too many small bodies that will never laugh again….
He doesn’t preach the brotherhood of man.
He lives it.
~Author Unknown

With the help of a few people, I compiled a list of guys from the neighborhood who became firefighters. 

Vinny Brunton, Mike Brunton, Tom Brunton

John Powers, Charlie Powers, Bill Kahaly

John Devaney, Pat Devaney, Tom Riches

Howie Bischoff, Roger Riches, Jimmy Riches

Jimmy McGee, Danny McGee, Joe McGee

Danny Ryan, Joe McGee, Joe Heegen

Bobby Ryan, Danny Ryan, Danny Quirke

Paul Quirke, Mike Price, Ricky Ferro

Greg Seminara, Pete Vega, Dennis O’Berg

Bobby O’Berg, Charlie Kawas, Tommy Kawas

Marty Lang, Jimmy Rallis, Kenny Rallis

Mickey Reilly, Pat Reilly, Tommy Dolan

Pat Heegan, Gary Heegan, Williams O’Connor

Mike Maronna, Tommy Gates, Charlie Kasper

Eddie Greene, Gerard Fraser, Eddie Plunkett

Donny Meeg, Frankie Fitzpatrick, Harry Mills

Bobby Pesce, Danny Gorman, Bobby Leaver.

Special Mention: Gammy Martinez, Philadelphia Fire Department

(Thanks to everyone who contributed to this list. I apologize for any omission. Please feel free to add anyone in the comments section that we may have missed or e-mail me and I will add them)



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33 Responses to A HERO’S TRIBUTE

  1. jimmy vac says:

    I agree with you.. wish I considered it.. there is not a nore noble profession. I am pround of my young cousin Charile who is a fireman and bartends at Farrells..
    In my neighborhood, I am surrounded by retired firemen. . It seems like the great neighborhoods seem to have alot of firemen or retired firefighters around.

    When you are a kid you measure heroes by how many homers they hit or baskets they score. When you grow up, you realize the real heroes are
    the cops and fireman that serve and protect. ,

  2. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    One of the things that immediately jumps out at you is the family connection- so many brothers, uncles, fathers and sons go into the job. That is NOT a job you take for the benefits. Coming up in August, will be the Vinnie Brunton Memorial BBQ and Golf Outing- it gets a lot of support. Every year for the past 8 years, I have done the Tunnel to Towers Walk/Run, in memory of Steven Seiler- it is amazing to see the growth in that event over the years- it has more than doubled in size. When you consider how many fund raising events there are just because of the sheer volume of lives lost, it is even more impressive how that community supports each other.

  3. Glenn Thomas says:

    A very impressive list of names not only as firemen but as good people! It takes a very special type of person to enter this profession and to endure in making a career out of it. I tip my hat to these guys and firemen all over for their service and bravery. May God keep them and their families safe.

  4. David Cullen says:

    In the midst of our society, where celebrities and athletes become idolized by people, there are some true heroes. While I’ll admit that there are athletes and entertainers I admire, it’s the people who serve and protect that make peoples lives more safer then they might ever realize. My admiration and respect for the fire fighters and police officers in this country is tremendous. They deal with situations frought with danger and they deserve our respect and support

    Thanx for the post, Steve I need to be reminded of the importance of these brave people.

  5. H.Mills says:

    Eddie Plunkett, Donny Meeg, Frankie Fitzpatrick, just to name a few that were left out.

  6. Geri Cregg Cahill says:

    There were also some dads from our neighborhood that chose this noble profession, my dad Capt. John Cregg, Mr. Carroll from 16th street, Mr. Fifield and Mr. O’Donnell from Sherman Street. Great men!

  7. jimmy cassino says:

    three more left out are Harry Mills, Bobby Pesce and Danny Gorman

  8. Gammy Martinez says:

    Hey Steve, you forgot one, me! 25 years Philadelphia Fire Dept. Gammy Martinez

    • hoopscoach says:

      YO! What is up daddy o? I thought you were running the point for the Dallas Mavericks?

      I will include you as a special mention.

      Hope you are well.

      Do you eat those cheesesteaks?

      What about the Sixers? You follow them?

      Stay cool and stay in touch!

  9. H.Mills says:

    Just popped into my head—Dennis Lindsey, Gerard’s brother.

  10. Jack Kelly says:

    Can’t forget 7th avenues contribution…Michael Troeller.

  11. jack colligan says:

    You have named some great guys here and I just came back to Florida after visiting Breezy Point where I ran in to Gregg Seminara and was great to visit with him. I had not seen Gregg for more than 30 years.

    There were a lot of great firemen that played football in the Farragut Park football league and was fortunate to get to know many of the.

    They are truly great people.

  12. jerry s says:

    What about Mr. Gruschow and Mr. Hennessy

  13. GTrapp says:

    My grandfather Richmond Trapp was a fireman in the Columbia St firehouse Red Hook, horse drawn fire truck, when he passed away in 1962 they put his picture in the news for being the oldest retired fireman, he was 97.

  14. Kevin Mahoney says:

    Phil McKenna.

    He actually responded to a fire in my Dad’s apartment on 14th street one summer night in the mid “90’s. I was living on 11th Steet at the time and Phil, who was same Holy Name class as me, was the first fireman I saw when I got to the scene.

  15. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    Kevin’s post put me in mind of a small world story- I was in New Orleans a few years ago, and a musician friend of mine introduced me to a friend of his, telling him I was from Brooklyn. The friend, Rich Fanning told me he was retired FDNY- I asked him what house, he asked “do you know where Prospect Ave is?” I told him I lived on Prospect Ave, lol, then I asked him if he knew my brother-in-law- he says oh, yeah, I was Chief on a fire at his relatives’s house- I said, yeah, that would be my father, lol

  16. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    another time in NOLA, I was in Mother’s , a place where you go to the counter, order your food and then wait and take it to a table- I was having breakfast, this group of guys comes in- you could just tell they were firefighters- as I was leaving, I saw one with a 105 jacket, so I approached him and told him Cathy Brunton was a friend of mine- he brings me over to their table, yadda, yadda, yadda- here is Vinnie’s best friend, who had run the funeral, they know my brother-in-law and sister, we start talking about events, I ask them if they do Tunnel to Towers- that is who they are down there with, they drove two semis filled with toys to distribute to Gulf Coast kids- as we are leaving, there is a military unit on line, one of the soldiers gets off the line and says FDNY? I had a guy in my unit that was FDNY- the firefighter says- Engledrum?? yes, we arranged his funeral- handshakes all around- as I am standing outside saying goodbye, one of them gets a phone call- someone says who was that- he says- Hollywood- I say, Kerry Hollywood? I know him, he was our driver when the English contingent came to America to march in the St Pat’s Parade and visit the Memorial at Breezy Point- was such a surreal experience…

  17. JOHN SEILER says:


  18. Alex west says:

    It is with a very heavy heart that I post here the passing of Howie bishoff yesterday, succumbing o 9/11 related disease. RIP brother. 5-5-5-5

  19. Joe Kennedy says:

    That neighborhood produced some of the best cops and firefighters that sad city has ever seen. A strong sense of responsibility and values turned out the best of public servants this city will never see again. Pride in yourself, your neighbor and your neighborhood together with a sense of always trying to do “the right thing” People moving in today and paying big big bucks think it’s the real estate, surprise, surprise.

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