9/11 – Remembering Firefighter Jeffrey M. Palazzo

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As a proud participant in the 2,996 Project I had written a memorial for one 9/11 victim, Aram Iskendarian, a few years ago. I’ve chosen one more that had not been memorialized yet:

Jeffrey M. Palazzo

Jeff was 33 the day he died on 9/11 running into the damaged towers rather than out.

But this isn’t about how he died but about he lived. And it begins with disco. Yup, disco.

In the 1980’s, Jeff Palazzo was a Brooklyn disco king who liked the cruising scene and obsessing over his Chevy Malibu. At a dance benefit at Bishop Ford High School in 1987, the disco king fell for a self-described ”rock head” from Marine Park named Lisa Vissalo. They married three years later.

The disco king tamed the rock head. He traded in his cruising cars for Bronco trucks outfitted with car seats for daughters Nicole, 5, and Samantha, 2. He bought a fixer-upper home in New Dorp, in Staten Island. He packed up his family on weekends off and took them camping and scuba diving.

The Brooklyn native lived life that’s for sure. Hunting, skiing, scuba diving, fishing, and he loved to work on the house.

To my dearest friend, All those times we spent together will never be forgotten, how fate brought us together, with the short times we had together seemed like forever. We have been through goods and bad, and I believe you are in a good place for a good person. I should have called out sick to help you with your basement, but hindsight is always good. As we always say to each other, “see you later”
~ David Chan

He enlisted in the Coast Guard and then became a reservist once becoming a fire fighter. He influenced many it seems:

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While we were stationed at Chatham I sat in awe listening to your stories with the FDNY. You were one of my primary influences in my decision to retire and become a firefighter/paramedic. In our station we display a large american flag with all the names of the 343 listed on the stripes. To me, your name stands out among the other 342 every time I pass by it. God Bless Jeff

Chris Flavell (USCG Ret)

Jeff,
As I awoke this morning and stepped outside, a weird and peaceful feeling struck me. I looked at my watch and realized what time it was. Six years ago, you lost your life doing what came natural…doing your job and being a hero. Jeff, I think of you often, it’s hard not to! Because of you, my life has changed for the better. I have been a firefighter for the last five years and there’s not a shift that goes by that I don’t remember why I’m there. You touched so many people’s lives that you probably never knew, including mine. I am grateful for the time I spent in the Coast Guard with you and I’m honored to have a career in which I feel that you led me to through your heroism. And for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. May God be with your wife and kids.
~ Jeff Wood, Newburgh, Indiana

He was first assigned to Ladder Co. 109 in Brooklyn, and spent about five years there. He then joined Staten Island’s elite Rescue 5 squad in Concord, where he had been stationed for the last 18 months.

His cousin remembers him:

Dear Jeff-O, I am so sorry it took me so long to write. I’ve been trying to get my thoughts together. There are so many things I want to say, so here goes. I can’t begin to tell you how I feel inside. I think about you all the time. I am really having a hard time believing that this happened. I carry your picture in my wallet and everytime I look at it I see your beautiful smile and it makes my heart melt. I admire the courage and selflessness you’ve always shown throughout your life and I’m so very proud of you. I always thought of you as a hero Jeff-O, I just never knew you would have to pay such a price to become one. I have to tell you that I wear my L-109 and Rescue 5 shirts proudly. I want you to know that you gave me the greatest honor when you asked me to be Samantha’s Godmother. Jeff-O we have made a lifetime of memories together from whem we were babies to adults. I hold those memories close to my heart. I promise when Samantha and Nicole get older I will share everything with them. I have many pictures of us throughout the years just waiting for them to see. I want you to know I will never forget how you held me in your strong arms and let me cry when my mom was sick, I thank you for that. I am a very fortunate person because now I have two very special angels, you and my mom watching over me. Please give her a big hug and kiss for me. I love you and I miss you terribly. You will always be in my heart. Till we meet again in Heaven. Love always, Your Cousin Jolene
~
Jolene Benvengo,
Brooklyn, New York

And a fellow firefighter remembers the man he was:

The department has a gaping hole in it from losing some of the best men to ever serve the city. Everyone of the brothers feels it. It doesn’t go away. From the eulogies I’ve heard at Funeral and memorial masses to stories written in the papers about you guys it’s obvious that you are heroes. You are the bravest. We knew it, but know the world does too.

Not many professions share a comradery like ours. Many people will sadly live and die never having felt that type of comradery. When I was in probe school I stopped by L109 because I was getting stressed out with knot class. Every guy from Squad to Rescue had their own way of doing it and each thought his was better than the other guy’s, of course. So you worked out the kinks with me for as long as it took. You had me stay for the meal and treated me like one of the boys. On top of being a great cousin you also had a job that day. You were the O.V. and you took the windows. I came to the firehouse so stressed out and left knowing I’d get through probe school no problem with you at my back. I love you for that.

Remember when we spent a couple of weeks putting in my friend’s bathroom. I was never a handy guy, But I learned many valuable lessons during those weeks about life, from you Jeff. It went beyond the bathroom, water heater, electric and stuff. I remember you said, “Things never go the way you plan so don’t expect them to. there aren’t many things that you can’t fix if you just take the time to think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Then put the work in.” How right you were.

When I was stationed in Staten Island at E153 we worked the same tours. I knew that if I was ever up the creek you would come and get me. That was always a comforting thought. The last time that I ever saw you was at the Taxpayer fire that took out four stores. I remember that it was too hot to advance the line more than ten feet through the entrance. The next thing I knew the heat lifted and we were able to move in. I knew it was you, up there, cutting the roof to lift the heat and smoke so we could get to the fire. When it got out of control and they called all the men out, it was you looking for me to see if I was alright. Then you said to me,”Mike, step into the street. I don’t like how this building looks. It could collapse.” Then you and the boys from Rescue 5 took up. This is how you’ll be remembered. This is the story I’ll tell your children, as well as my own. Thank you for being my friend, my brother, my cousin and a true hero. I’ll miss you more than you would ever know.
Love,
Mike –

His Mother:

My dear Son, I miss so much, I don’t believe its going on four years. You know you were #1 in my life, when will the void get less.Lisa and the girls are doing great. Matthew is such charmer like you were at his age, he is so close to Lisa. I LOVE AND MISS YOU Your MOM
~
Irene Palazzo,
Brooklyn, New York

Today is Jeffrey Day,I have great memories of past Jeffrey Days,all happy ones, even the rainy ones because,it was your Special Day. You always brought sunshine to it with that unforgetable smile.The smile everyone,who met you could no forget it.

I’m glad one of grand-daughters has your smile,when Nicole smile I see you.Some of the things Samantha does ,you did the same at her age,its like you again as baby.

It’s May 1st,which is a Special Day,because its Jeffrey Day,the day that God sent Our Adopted Angel.

We celerate all the Holidays.Jeffrey Day,was different it was your day and we would always do whatever you wanted.You mostly chose Great Adventure or Bronx Zoo and dinner at Juniors,where you would eat a bowl of pickles.

One year you decided to have your Godmother Aunt Litz, come with us.Your choice was The TWC observation deck.That when you said,that the cars in the streets looked like the match box cars you had at home.
I remember all of the Jeffrey Days,when you were younger.

In later years we would all enjoy dinner at a resturant of your choice or at home.

Jeff you are Hero to all that knew you,a great Son, Husband, Daddy, Brother, Friend and Co-Worker,Cousin,Nephew,Uncle an all around Great Person.You are greatly missed and LOVED.
THANKS JEFF FOR LISA AND THE GIRLS.

I LOVE YOU JEFF
YOUR BROKEN HEARTED MOM

~ Irene Palazzo, Brooklyn, New York

And finally, the love of his life, Lisa Palazzo:

To my best friend and husband Jeff, 6 months, at times it seems like a lifetime and then it seems like yesterday. Not many people know what it feels like to lose their best friend and the person who held all their dreams in their hands. I DO. You were the best thing that ever happened to me. You loved me so much and tried so hard to be the best husband and father. Maybe that was the problem …. you always had to be the BEST and you worked so hard at it. You really never figured out that you were the BEST without even trying. I miss you now, more than most can imagine. I miss your voice, your smile and your hugs. I look at our girls and see you. Sometimes this is painful but most of the time I feel horored that you gave me to special gifts. I promise to do everything with them that you wanted to. I promise to make sure they grow up knowing all that you were to me and to them. I promise to help them grow up to make you proud.

I continue to go through the motions of living now. My heart is broken and sometimes it is hard. But then I remember it is not about me….. I am still here and able to do so much with my life. It is you that was robbed of all that life still had to give you.

I keep our special times close to my heart and they make me strong.
I LOVE YOU ALWAYS AND MISS YOU.
STAY BY ME AND KEEP ME STRONG.
ALWAYS AND FOREVER YOURS
LISA

Its hard to truly do honor to someone from a blog but the comments from friends, co-workers, and family I believe tell the tale of a remarkable man who will be missed.

Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

One Response to “9/11 – Remembering Firefighter Jeffrey M. Palazzo”

  1. 1

    Carlos Perez

    This friday I complete my Rights Of Passage for becoming a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Coast Guard and I will have Jeff there present with me, he will be in my thoughts as well as in my heart for I learned the true mark of a professional having served with Jeff at CG Station New York. His professionalism and dedication to the uniform was indicatice of a chief……. Thank you for keeping watch over us Jeff!

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