PO Vincent Danz
Vincent G. Danz, 37, of Farmingdale, was a New York City police officer assigned to the elite Emergency Service Unit based in the Bronx. He was believed to be on the fourth floor of the north tower. Danz left a message on his home answering machine for his wife that he was at the World Trade Center. His last words were: “Pray for me and pray for these people. I love you. I’ll talk to you soon.” His remains were recovered in December 2001.
When rescue workers recovered Vincent Danz’s body he had on a pair of black utility boots given to him by his brother, Felix Danz of Manorville.
“They looked like they were in a bear fight or something,” his brother said. “They were ripped to shreds.”
Felix Danz held on to the tattered boots to remind him of his brother, the youngest of nine children.
The boots sat in a barn in his backyard for years. One day, he took the boots and two pieces of wood from a deck that his brother had built and fashioned them together. The memorial hangs on the barn’s front door as a quiet reminder.
“Oddly enough the two pieces of wood resemble the two towers,” he said. “It’s my little memento, if you will.”
Vincent Danz was a fun-loving man who had simple tastes. Every now and then he played a round of golf, but what he enjoyed most was spending time with his daughters – Winifred, now 18, Emily, now and Abigail, now 11 – and watching SpongeBob SquarePants.
“He liked to barbecue with friends; enjoy some beer and a cigar,” his brother said. “That was Vince’s delight right there.”
Felix Danz joined the Army when he was 17 and was stationed in California. He moved back to Long Island in 1999 in part to help his brother care for their aging mother, Ellen Danz, 88, of Southampton.
“It was an opportunity to really be Uncle Felix to his girls and he to mine. Oh man, we’re going to have a great time,” his brother said. “It was only two years later that he died. It was such a harrowing loss.” – Chau Lam
Campbell – AFP, The Washington Post, At a memorial service in Farmingdale, N.Y., Winifred Danz, 8, carries the police cap of her late father, Vincent Danz. Winifred’s mother Angela follows. Danz is among the hundreds of New York City rescue personnel entombed by the collapsed towers of the World Trade Center.
This profile was originally published in 2001/2002
The line of men in red, white or blue hard hats went up the path through the wreckage of the old World Trade Center to the smoke at the top of the gray hill. It was one of four clouds of smoke coming from deep in the guts of the ground. This smoke rose to the top of a 40-story financial building.
There were about 200 men on the hill in white, blue or red hard hats and they were passing down five-gallon buckets. At the bottom of the hill, two men stood with a 4-foot by 3-foot screen and the buckets were emptied onto the screen and they shook the screen as if they were trying to find coins at the beach. They were looking for any trace, any identification of the dead in the gray wreckage. Often they would shake the screen and get a hand, a piece of a heel.
At 1:30 yesterday afternoon they were digging in the smoke at the top, and somebody came up with a credit card for Officer Vincent Danz. He was in the wreckage right under them, they all agreed. The hands reached into the gray rubble.
By 3 o’clock a truck from emergency service unit three in the Bronx pulled into the lot and parked at the foot of the hill. If it was Danz’s body, it was theirs to carry. He had been part of a high-rise rescue team.
“That’s the widow,” a sergeant, Ricky Kemmler, said.
A few steps away, a light-haired young woman who wore a short tan coat and a white hard hat stood with her hand being held by Joseph Dunne, who is the deputy police commissioner.
“She lives on the Island. They called her,” somebody said.
“She already had a memorial service for him. I was there,” Andrew McGinnis, a sergeant, said.
“In Farmingdale,” another one said. “It was the first one for an officer.”
“I think she’s from Ireland. She had the guts to get up and speak at the memorial. She has three kids. I know she said something funny about meeting him in a bar.”
“I met my two wives in bars,” I said.
The widow, Angela Danz, was silent and there was no talking around her. Her eyes were red-rimmed but she was not close to weeping. This is the toughest breed of them, a young woman who now raises three kids, with the oldest 8, while living in loneliness.
She stood in the mud and before her was the coliseum where her husband fought his last fight for her. The wreckage strewn everywhere looked exactly like it was, buildings dropped from the sky. A few high thick stubborn metal teeth of the south tower were still rooted in the gray mud.
The remains of a wall of the north tower leaned backward, as if resting against a fence.
Off to the right, yellow smoke came up in billows. Water from a hose attached to a hydrant that somehow had lasted was played with great force at the yellow smoke. It did not stop.
A large machine, a grappler, dug into the earth around the yellow smoke. As the grappler came up with its jaws clamped on pieces of steel and mud, the yellow smoke subsided for a few moments. Then it burst angrily out of the spot.
A dozen cranes waved angrily high in the smoke. Everywhere in the mud, generators barked and dozens of back hoes and grapplers chewed on the disaster.
She watched with strength stronger than the buildings that killed her husband. She was out of the old coal mine disasters, with women waiting at the top of the elevator for news of their husbands in a fire below.
Except this time, Angela Danz knew that her husband was dead. She had already eulogized him in a church. Right now, the least they could do was get her the body.
On the hill in front of her, twin lines of men went up the hill, that is several stories high. Then at the top it hooked to the right. The head of the line was lost in the smoke.
Now a police commander in white uniform shirt climbed to the turn in the line, kept going and disappeared into the smoke.
“Esposito,” somebody said. He is Joseph Esposito, the chief of the department.
“I never saw a guy that big get down and work with the men,” one of the cops said.
Up on the hill, the white, red or blue hard hats bobbed and at the top they formed a little circle around something and then burst like a soap bubble. Some hard hats went to one line and the rest to the other. Now they took off their hard hats and saluted.
“It looks like they got him,” the sergeant, Kemmler, said.
The cranes and ground machinery stopped. The generators were turned off.
“It looks like we had a good day,” another enthused. They dig all day, day after day, and do not find many bodies.
“If that’s what you call it,” somebody said.
Dunne and the widow walked a few steps to the emergency service truck parked at the bottom of the hill.
At the top; Esposito’s white shirt appeared. He was in front of a gurney that was cloaked with an American flag.
Somebody called, “They want police officers up on the line.”
McGinnis and Kemmler walked up the hill and got on a line.
Now Esposito walked first down the slope. Walked slowly, for they could not slip with the gurney. Men in the lines on either side saluted.
At the bottom of the slope, Esposito had the pallbearers step at an even slower funeral pace.
Dunne and the widow went to the back of the truck.
Esposito led the men with the gurney to the back of the truck.
Now there was no motion or sound for several seconds. They prayed over the body.
Then Dunne and Angela Danz came from the back of the truck and walked away.
The hard hats filed along the truck and formed an honor guard for many yards from the front of the truck. A patrol car moved in front.
All saluted. The patrol car roof light went on and the big emergency truck followed through the mud. It went past the great hole that looked down on what had been a subway station. Then they went out onto the streets and headed for the morgue on First Avenue with the body the widow and his emergency outfit had wanted so much. – Jimmy Breslin
This profile was originally published in 2001/2002
New York City on Friday began the “sad and difficult process,” in the words of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, of saying goodbye to the 23 police officers lost in the World Trade Center attacks.
The first farewell was for Officer Vincent G. Danz at St. Kilian Roman Catholic Church of Farmingdale, where traffic did not move until early afternoon as thousands of city police officers lined Conklin Avenue outside the church for a quarter of a mile.
In a last-minute cell phone call to his wife, Angela, on Sept. 11, Danz left the following message: “Hon, it’s 9:50 and I’m at the World Trade Center. I’m up in the building. Say a prayer that we get some of these people out. I’m OK but say a prayer for me. I love you.”
Danz, 38, the father of three young girls – Winifred, Emily and Abigail – was one of 14 officers from the elite Emergency Service Unit who perished while helping others escape from the Trade Center towers.
Giuliani, accompanied by Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and First Deputy Commissioner Joseph Dunne, walked down Conklin Avenue at 11 a.m. Friday toward St. Kilian’s. They stood silently outside the church, their hands clasped in front of them, surrounded by a sea of uniformed officers. From the other end of Conklin Avenue could be heard the muffled sounds of the Emerald Society Pipe Band’s drums as they approached from the west.
In his homily, Danz’s first cousin Jim Murphy, a former FBI agent and lay deacon, said Danz loved his job and loved his family. “He loved his girls,” Murphy said.
In 1986, Murphy said, Danz’s sister Winifred Danz, and her husband, Thomas Fehmel, were murdered in their home in Southampton during a robbery. Danz’s parents, Murphy said, “publicly forgave the murderer.”
“Is it any wonder,” he asked, “that Vinny was the person he was?”
While there must be justice, Murphy continued, referring to the terrorists who caused Danz’s death, “there must never be vengeance.”
Next, Giuliani, who was applauded as he rose to speak, said, “Since Sept. 11, the world has come to know what New Yorkers already knew – that we have the best police department in the whole world. It is a shame it took a tragedy like this to get to know this. They know it now.”
Dunne told the congregation Danz was supposed to be working a later shift the day of the attacks but switched tours so he could attend engineering school. Dunne said Danz called his wife, knowing she would be walking with girlfriends, to leave his final message.
“‘I am in this awful place helping people,'” Dunne quoted Danz as saying. “‘Pray for them, pray for me.'”
Giuliani said that while the World Trade Center attacks may have been the greatest loss the city has suffered, the city’s rescue effort saved more than 25,000 lives and was “the greatest rescue mission ever accomplished.”
The mayor said the concept of justice belonged in a “court of law.”
“The question here,” the mayor said, “is self-defense. I think we have to defend ourselves. We have to defend ourselves against this happening again … against another attack in five or 10 years.”
“Our goal has to be the same goal as we had in the Second World War. It has to be unconditional victory over terrorists and terrorism,” Giuliani said. “We have to protect ourselves. … If left alone they will do it again.” — Leonard Levitt
Squad 1 from Truck 3 returning to the office after a counter-terrorism assignment. Left to right: Tony Otero, Richie Gundacker, Sgt. Will Flores, Ray Neuman and John Latanzio. Three fellow officers from Truck 3 never came home that day – Vincent Danz, Walter Weaver, and Jerome Dominguez.
This profile was originally published in 2001/2002
The sound of the drums silenced the people lined up on both sides of Conklin Street in Farmingdale before most of them could even see the Emerald Society drum corps, which had to start its honor guard a quarter mile down the road to accommodate the crowd at the memorial Mass for New York City police officer Vincent Danz.
Friday morning, a day of 15 other memorials in New York and Long Island, the morning sun was hot; and when the officers and firefighters across the street from St. Kilian Roman Catholic Church removed their hats to wipe their brows, it exposed a crease in their foreheads – a red line that must grow deeper with every funeral service they attend.
They attend a lot of them, all for people who died – in the words of the death notices that appeared in this newspaper on Friday alone, “tragically,” “heroically,” “suddenly,” “bravely” – on Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center.
The crowd this time was composed of family and friends of the deceased, pressed together around the steps of St. Kilian’s, a parish that memorialized eight parishioners last week alone; police officers and firefighters at attention in full dress uniform, some of them for the 15th or 20th time in a week; neighbors and on-lookers and local merchants who shuttered their stores to be a part of the community of mourning.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was there, a welcome, if odd-looking, figure: square shouldered, square-jawed, barrel-shaped, slightly bent, as if nursing a stomach ache; complexion as pale as an actor smeared with cold cream backstage after a play. He received gentle applause from the mourners and the shopkeepers.
When they heard the drumbeats start, all the small-talk stopped, all the heads turned. There is a quiet in the woods, but no quiet is as deep as the kind that happens when 3,000 or 4,000 people simultaneously stop making a sound.
The police officers and firefighters, wearing flat-topped hats, stood in straight lines. The rest of the people were hatless, the morning sun shining off their sea of fresh-combed heads. The drums were all you heard.
The Emerald Society men wore black kilts and black berets with two black ribbons dangling behind, a green pom-pom on top, green sashes across their chests. They walked in a stiff marching style – half motion, half stillness. With their drums, cased in black canvas, they made drum rolls followed by three slow beats.
It is a hypnotic rhythm in a numbing routine that will come to embrace hundreds of firefighter and police officer services, yet each of these tremendous ceremonies marks a very personal grief.
“There’s a big picture and a small picture, and both are overwhelming,” Msgr. James P. Swiader, the pastor at St. Kilian’s, said afterward. “Each service is about one person, and yet it is also about the loss suffered by an entire community. We try to recognize both.”
In the Catholic Church, they are calling these services “memorial Masses” instead of funeral Masses, he said. When there is no body, they cannot call it a funeral.
Danz was an emergency services officer. His unit entered the towers after the first and before the second of the hijacked planes struck. He called his wife, Angela, shortly after he got there to say that he was all right, and to ask her to pray “that we can get some of these people out.”
Before he hung up, according to the homily by a cousin, Deacon James Murphy of Syosset, Danz told his wife he loved her and the girls – Winifred, Emily and Abigail – and added, “Say a prayer for me, too.”
At one point during the memorial Mass, Angela Danz spoke bravely – about her husband, his faith, his love of family, his humor – then sat down and leaned over to one of her children to say some words. Then she pulled the child onto her lap for the duration.
Outside, most of the officers, including the Emerald Society drum corps, stood and talked; some smoking cigarettes, some making calls on their cell phones. Some smiled and talked as if nothing unusual was happening on this warm October morning in 2001.
Every one of them, though, has that deep, red crease in the forehead.
We all do. – Paul Vitello
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
An Update on NYPD Officer Vincent Danz, and ESU Unit 3– Written by a nutjiob but posted for the worthwhile commentary.
NYPD transit canine dies after 7 years of service…
NYPD transit canine dies after 7 years of … a German shepherd named for Officer Vincent Danz, … Dogs who work for the NYPD’s transit system are trained with …
2,000 Mourn Fallen OfficerFirst memorial for police victim of terrorist attack
Some 2,000 police officers turned out yesterday for the first memorial service for a city cop lost in the World Trade Center disaster.They lined up 10 deep along a Long Island street to offer a white-gloved salute to the widow and daughters of Emergency Service Unit Officer Vincent Danz, 38, one of 23 Finest believed killed in the terror attack.
Dedicated Memorial Sites:
New York City Police Memorial Wall
Long Island 9/11 Memorial
Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation 9/11/01 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