John Napolitano Sr. — father of John P. Napolitano Jr., a New York City firefighter who perished in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 — recalled on Thursday how he learned of his son’s impact on others following his death.
“I found out so many things about him when he passed by the lives that he touched,” Napolitano remarked on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow. “My son, there was never any bragging in him. He never told tales. He never patted himself on the back.”
He continued, “My son was never recovered. In October, we had a memorial service, and an elderly gentleman came up to me with tears in his eyes and he told me that he’s alive today because of my son… He had a heart attack, and this was when my son was with the Lakeland Fire Department, and my son… was the first on the scene, and my son — being an advanced EMT — brought him back to life, and this gentleman was crushed.”
Napolitano shared anecdotes illustrating his son’s understated modesty in serving others.
“I had a father who came up to me and told me how my son would walk his daughter home from school, because she was overweight and he wanted to make sure that nobody would pick on her,” he remarked. “Not that [my son] was a tough guy, his message was, ‘This is my friend, and if you’re my friend, she should be your friend also.’ He did big things in a small way.”
He added, “I would see sometimes, especially if he was in uniform, a child would look — as children do at individuals in uniform, and they’re in awe as they look up at these heroes as they should — and my son, when talking to a child, he would never look down. He would get down on one knee and make eye contact.”
“[He was] not only a son that I was proud of, but a son that I could look up to,” he said. “All he ever wanted to do was help people.”
John P. Napolitano Jr. became a junior volunteer firefighter with the Lakeland Fire Department at the age of 17. He later became the department’s youngest chief and then its commissioner. He served 16 years in Lakeland and then ten years with the New York City Fire Department.
Napolitano noted that his son’s youngest daughter continued in her father’s firefighting footsteps. He stated, “Emma, the youngest [daughter], she’s also a member of the Lakeland Fire Department now, and she wears his hat and his shield.”
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