Son recalls heroic
father with 'monumental pride'
By JOHN W. BARRY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: Oct. 10, 2001)
PEARL RIVER The two tower
ladders seemed to stand at attention 100 feet above West Central Avenue yesterday,
an American flag large enough to cover a car strung between them.
with the thousands of friends, family members, colleagues and a former president,
Old Glory and the life-saving firefighting equipment underscored a lot of what
was important to New York Fire Capt. Frederick Ill Jr.
They also represented
what his son described as his father's dual roles on the morning of Sept. 11,
when he responded with other members of Ladder 2 in Manhattan to the World Trade
Center after two airliners were hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers.
was not only there as a New York City firefighter, but, like his comrades, became
one of the first soldiers in this new war, said Fred Ill 3rd.
Ill became a member of the FDNY in July and also responded to Ground Zero.
yesterday's Mass for Ill at St. Margaret's Roman Catholic Church, it wasn't hard
to picture him in a military light.
His brother-in-law, Dan Murphy, described
how Staff Sgt. Ill with Company A of the 854th Engineer Battalion of the Army
Reserves traveled to Central America to build schools and churches as part of
his military service.
Former President Clinton attended the service and
spoke with Ill's family. Clinton met Ill on more than one occasion while president,
and since the terrorist attack has twice visited the 51st Street and Third Avenue
firehouse where Ill worked, a spokesman for the former president said yesterday.
Not all of yesterday's recollections were about Ill's public service as
a soldier and heroics as a firefighter, which included the 1999 daring rescue
of a Bronx man who was pushed onto high-voltage subway tracks in front of an oncoming
His sister, Jane, told an overflowing church about "a beautiful
baby," with delicate features, blue eyes and platinum blond hair. Growing
up in the Bronx with Frederick Ill Jr. as an older brother meant playing stickball,
raiding Sammy's Fruit Stand and charging $5 to iron her brother's pants and shirts.
Ill soothed his sister's fears after the two watched scary Bela Lugosi
movies as adolescents. He also offered endless encouragement after she repeatedly
failed road tests for a driver's license.
"He was always a shoulder
to lean on," she said. "Everyone who was fortunate to know him can say
they were touched by an angel."
Firefighter Chris Flatley of Ladder
2 spoke of a colleague who routinely entered the firehouse "with a 7-Eleven
coffee cup and a smile."
Ill, he said, never played up his rank.
just a firefighter," Flatley recalled Ill telling him. "The rank is
for payroll purposes."
Fred Ill 3rd summed up his feelings for his
father in two words "monumental pride."
He fondly recalled
a father who referred to his 1986 Ford Tempo as "Precious," enjoyed
working with his son on renovations to their house and never ran out of time for
his wife and three children.
"Even after a hard 24, he always had
time for any one of us," the younger Ill said.
"I'm proud to
carry his name and legacy," he said. "I know I have the best and bravest
guardian angel on my shoulder."
After thanking everyone for their
support, he directed his comments toward his mother.
said, "we'll move on."