In Memory of Joe Grzelak
I first met Joe Grzelak at Quang Tri, he was an electrician & I was a mechanic. We both came from Staten Island & I would get our hometown newspaper in the mail and pass it on to Joe. We were friendly, but not close friends. After discharge we both returned to Staten Island & I ran into him a few times after that. He joined the New York City Fire Department sometime in the 1970s. I also wanted to be a firefighter but couldn't qualify because of vision requirements. We both got on with our lives & i never saw Joe after that.
Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 I was having a few beers with my brother in law. He is also a NYC firefighter & was deeply affected by the events of that day. Joes name came up during that conversation & he gave me a shocked look. He had been in the same firehouse with Joe for years, and had been a very good friend of his. All those years he never knew that I knew Joe and had been in the same squadron together.
The story as i know it is as follows. Joe stayed in the department & over the years moved up the chain of command. On Sept. 11, he was a batallion chief in the lobby of the north tower when the building collapsed. Shortly after that the south tower collapsed. A total of 343 firefighters died in the line of duty on that horrible day.
Since then I have spoken to quite a few guys who knew Joe much better than I. Every one of them had nothing but praise for Joe. These guys are very much like Marines, very spirited & can do. Joe was a "fireman's fireman", which i think is one of the best compliments a man can receive.
When the brick is in place I will contact his friends, who will in turn, contact the family. If i can provide you with any additional information I would be happy to.
I mailed the form & check yesterday before receiving your email inquiry. I have many fond memories of my time with VMO-6 & the men who served. Please add my name & contact info to your database. If you need any additional information about Joe Grzelak I will do my best to provide it.
26 Apr 2013