Officer James Leahy was killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks while attempting to rescue the victims trapped in the World Trade Center.
He was assigned to the 6th Precinct.
Officer Leahy had served with the New York City Police Department for nine years, and is survived by wife and three sons.
He was posthumously awarded the New York City Police Department’s Medal of Honor for his heroic actions.
Updated: Jan. 03, 2019, 9:52 p.m. | Published: Sep. 11, 2010, 5:00 a.m.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — There was James P. Leahy — the football fan, the loving father, the caring husband. And there was Police Officer James P. Leahy — the strong hero willing to sacrifice.
He loved his job at the 6th Precinct in Greenwich Village, and the message painted on his locker reveals what kind of cop Mr. Leahy was: It reads “Only the strong.”
The only city police officer from Staten Island missing in the attacks on the World Trade Center didn’t have to be in Tower 1 when it collapsed. But he was, and totally calm — “like ice water was running through his veins,” his wife recalled Mr. Leahy’s partner later saying — as he carried oxygen tanks and other supplies to firefighters battling the blaze.
The 38-year-old left a message on the answering machine of his home around 9:35 a.m. on Sept. 11. By that time, both towers had been struck by the hijacked airplanes.
“He was very calm, he didn’t sound nervous at all,” said his wife of 18 years — and high-school sweetheart — the former Marcela Ramos. “He didn’t have any fear in his voice at all. If he had to do it all over again, he would go right back in there.”
Mr. Leahy was told by fellow officers that he didn’t have to be in the building at all. He responded by going higher up Tower 1, helping anyway he could. “Jim would never consider what he did to be an act of heroism, he just took his love of people and wanting to help them seriously,” said his brother, Arthur III.
“Caring about people was a strong quality of James’,” said his sister, Michele Safatle. “You could always count on him in a time of need. Jimmy was always very unselfish, putting others first and that’s why he ran into Tower 1 on September 11th. He was trying to help the people.”
Born in Mariners Harbor, he graduated from Port Richmond High School and had lived in Westerleigh for 14 years. He joined the Police Department in January 1992, spending his entire career in the 6th Precinct. He very much enjoyed being a police officer, but when his shifts on the day tour ended at 3 p.m., Mr. Leahy stopped being a cop and became a dad.
The day before the attacks, Mr. Leahy told friends in the stationhouse that he ordered two bowling balls, one for him and one for his son, Daniel. Daniel had just taken up bowling and Mr. Leahy was getting involved. The bowling balls will arrive on Saturday.
“He was definitely very active with his children,” Mrs. Leahy said. Mr. Leahy was proud of his oldest son, James Jr., a freshman at Binghamton University. Mr. Leahy helped coach Daniel’s teams in the Staten Island Boys’ Football League for seven years and watched horror movies with John, the youngest of his three boys.
“John was his little buddy,” his wife said.
Earlier this year, Mr. Leahy took his three sons to Canton, Ohio, to watch Pittsburgh Steelers great Lynn Swann get inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame. He considered the event a dream come true.
Mr. Leahy and his sons also played tournaments on the Sega Dreamcast, and waited eagerly for the new John Madden football game to come out each year. Over the course of his nine-year career with the Police Department, Mr. Leahy earned two Excellent Police Duty awards and two Meritorious Medals.
He attended Walsh College in Canton and the College of Staten Island, and worked on Staten Island for the Parks Department for eight years before joining the Police Department.
Mr. Leahy was a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle R.C. Church, Pleasant Plains.
“Just as his father did, James Leahy displayed loyalty and dedication to the people of the city of New York even to the point of his death,” said his sister, Denise Henick. “He is a true hero in every sense of the word.”
Mr. Leahy’s father, Arthur II, a Parks Department employee, was murdered during a burglary in 1975 while he was on a night watch at LaTourette Golf Course.
Surviving James Leahy, in addition to his wife, Marcela; his three sons, James Jr., Daniel and John; his brother, Arthur III, and his two sisters, Michele and Denise, are his mother, Jeanette, and another sister, Danielle Vella.
The memorial will be Saturday from the Casey Funeral Home, Castleton Corners, with a mass at 10 a.m. in St. Michael’s R.C. Church, Mariners Harbor. The ceremony will continue in Moravian Cemetery, New Dorp.
’Never Forget’: NYPD nephew of 9/11 hero cop still feels the pain of his uncle’s death in 1 World Trade Center
The anniversary of 9/11 leaves NYPD Officer Joseph Safatle thinking of footsteps.
The footsteps taken by his uncle, Officer James Leahy, killed 19 years ago in the rubble of the World Trade Center while ferrying oxygen tanks to firefighters and steering people to safety as the 110-story North Tower collapsed. And a decade later, Safatle following his uncle’s footsteps into a job as a city police officer.
John R. Leahy, son of NYPD Officer James P. Leahy, 6th Precinct, Greenwich Village
Dedicated Memorial Sites:
New York City Police Memorial Wall
Long Island 9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial at St. Joseph’s Chapel
Queen Elizabeth II September 11 Memorial Garden
Conseleya 9/11 Memorial
Crescent Beach Park – Flagpole/Memorial for 9/11 Victims
Dewitt 9/11 Memorial
East Newark 9/11 Memorial
Fair Haven 9/11 Memorial