Friday, September 11, 2009

Jeffrey Stark - a 2,996 Tribute

Jeffrey Stark was a firefighter stationed with Engine Co. 230 of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, NY. He was last seen at Broadway and Vesey, moving toward the Twin Towers with his fellow firefighters.

An account of that fateful day is given by Tom Braumuller for the Fort Monmouth Fire & Emergency Services:

[“Johnny G”. Guarino] and his crew had just returned from another call when someone yelled out to turn on the TV. They saw what everyone in the nation was watching – a tower on fire. They ran to the roof to see how bad it was when the call came in to respond.

Guarino’s crew mounted Engine 230 and headed for the bridges over to Manhattan. They had to take alternate routes because roads were being shut down quickly.

When they finally arrived, the crew of six (Lt. Brian Ahearn, Fire Fighter (FF) Ed White, FF Gene Whelan, FF Jeff Stark, FF Frank Bonomo, and FF Mike Carlo) dismounted and ran into the towers.

Guarino had to stay with the engine. A police officer told Guarino to move his engine up because other crews were arriving. He moved the engine up about two blocks and when he came back his crew was gone. Along with the towers.

Dianne O'Donnell chronicled his life for the Staten Island Advance (September 11, 2001):
When he graduated from the Fire Academy in May 1999, Mr. Stark joined his two brothers, John and Joseph, as a proud member of the New York City Fire Department.

His first assignment was to Engine Co. 230, where he worked for a year before being reassigned to Engine Co. 160, Concord.

When he was transferred to Ladder Co. 33 in the Bronx, Mr. Stark worked side by side with his older brother, John, a captain of Engine Co. 75 in the same firehouse. His final assignment saw him return to his first engine company in Brooklyn. ...

Prior to becoming a firefighter, Mr. Stark had worked for several years for PaineWebber, Manhattan.

He attended Niagara University, Lewiston, N.Y., and transferred to St. John's University, Grymes Hill, where he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree. He was a graduate of Monsignor Farrell High School.

Stark left behind Katharine Suarez, his girlfriend of five years. "He was everything," said Ms. Suarez. "He spent four of those five years helping me through law school. He was my support system. He was behind me 100 percent."

According to the New York Times:

He went hunting and fly fishing, he golfed and did carpentry — some activities with distinction, others with good humor. Relatively new to the department, and with two older brothers already there, he had some catching up to do, so he was always trying to hone his skills. Fires made him nervous but what he really dreaded, he told his girlfriend, was making mistakes in front of the other firefighters at Engine Company 230 in Brooklyn. ...

He drove [Katherine Suarez] home every night from law school; took her food when she was studying; dropped off her laundry and picked it up; made three trips to the paint store without complaining when she changed her mind about the kitchen color; went out at 4 a.m. on a New Year's Eve looking for Band Aids for her nasty cut; researched recipes to entice her to eat her broccoli.

He was 30, he looked after his widowed mother, Rosemary, in Staten Island, and he had a quiet, unassuming way about him. And a startling, melodic, high-pitched laugh.

This post is part of the Project 2,996 Tribute. Prior contributions to this project were Yvonne Bonomo and Jennieann Maffeo:
9/11/09 will mark 8 years since the attacks of World Trade Center I and II, The Pentagon, Shanksville, American Airlines Flights 11 & 77, and United Airlines Flight 93 & 175.

On that day 2,996 people were ripped from their lives. But as the media and society tend to do, they have focused on the killers. We’ve all learned more about them than we wanted to. On that day many of us made a pledge to never forget what happened.

We keep this promise by learning about and remembering the lives of the fallen.

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