Sgt Rodney Gillis

Sgt Rodney Gillis

New York City Police Officer Rodney Gillis had just finished his shift, which ended at 8 a.m., and was hanging around talking to his fellow officers with the Emergency Services Unit when the first plane smashed into the World Trade Center. As usual, he was the first one on the scene. 

Gillis, 34, and other Emergency Services officers, who included his former high school teacher, Police Officer John Dallara from ESU Truck 3, were believed to be in the belly of the South Tower when it collapsed, Green said. ” We know his team penetrated deep into the building.” 

Both Gillis and Dallara are among the 23 missing city police officers. 

Gillis joined the department in 1988. Promoted to sergeant in 1997, he was loved and respected by his men in Emergency Services Truck 8, said Gillis’ former supervisor retired Lt. Richard Green, because he was brave and strong. ” And just a terrific guy.” 

Green noted that Gillis, a Brownsville resident, was ” a Brooklyn boy through and through.” His mother, Geraldine, also lives in Brooklyn and his father, Otha, lives in North Carolina. He attended Park West High School in Brooklyn as a talented student and received a certificate from St. John’s University in Queens and a degree from the Island Drafting and Technical Institute in Amityville. 

To those who know him, Gillis is thought of as something of a Renaissance man. On the job, he was trained as a scuba diver, has his EMT certification, is trained in emergency psychology and is also a technician who deals with hazardous materials. Off the job, he was remodeling both his and his parents’ home. He loves to play saxophone and is devoted to his three children.. 

But his dedication to the job, the one that made him run out the door with the rest of the crew after his shift was done, is what defined Gillis, Green said. ” He’s a true warrior.” 

– New York Newsday Victim Database 9/26/2001

Rodney Gillis was off duty the morning of Sept. 11, finishing some paperwork at Truck 8’s Brooklyn headquarters. When the planes hit, he rushed to the scene, rounded up four other ESU cops and headed inside 2 World Trade Center. “We’re on the 20th floor of the south tower,” Gillis transmitted over an NYPD radio to a boss outside. “We’re meeting a lot of resistance.” Minutes later, the tower collapsed, killing Gillis and his ESU colleagues – Santos Valentin, Ronald Kloepfer, Walter Weaver and Jerome Dominguez.

Rodney Gillis was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor during the Annual Medal Day ceremony on December 4, 2001. The New York City Police Department Medal of Honor is the highest award that may be bestowed upon a member of the service.   


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