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September 11, 2006

9/11@5 years on - We Remember Police Offcer Vincent Danz

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Denizen Larry K remembers: Police Officer Vincent Danz.

Police Officer Vincent Danz, Badge #2166, End of Watch: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

P.O. Vincent Danz Fallen at the World Trade Center September 11, 2001

If you were in trouble who would you call to help you? You would call 911 of course and the Police or Fire Department will come to help. On 9/11/2001 a great many police and firefighters needed help. So whom do they call when they need Help? In New York they call Special Operations Division for the Emergency Services Unit or ESU.

The NYPD is a little different than many other large city police departments. They have no SWAT teams. The Emergency Services Unit functions as SWAT and much more. If you have a hostage situation, an auto accident, a derailed subway car with people trapped, a collapsed building, then you call ESU. If you need to rappel down a building to rescue a trapped jumper or thrill seeker or perhaps people trapped in an elevator you call ESU. If you need someone to handle special weapons to secure a dangerous felon or special tools to capture a “pet” tiger kept in a housing project apartment you call ESU. If you have any situation that needs special training, special equipment, special weapons and most of all special people, you call ESU.

What kind of man would be attracted to join a unit like that? Where would a man like that be on September 11th? The answer is obvious and may explain why 14 of the 23 NYPD officers who lost their lives were from ESU. And one of those was Police Officer Vincent G. Danz.

Officer Danz wasn’t born into the ESU of course. He grew up in Southampton, New York as the youngest of 9 children. Perhaps the environment and demands of growing up the youngest in a large family made him desire a life of adventure and activity. His life was one of seeking out the next challenge, the next exploit, the next way to serve others. After high school he got started in life as a carpenter with the Dockworkers Union. For many that would be a challenging enough atmosphere, but it wasn’t enough for him so he joined the Marine Corps and served in the Reserves. He then had the opportunity to join the NYPD. For 8 years his beat was the very active environment of the New York City housing projects. After taking his share of bad guys off the streets, Vincent learned that the NYPD was forming a new elite unit called ESU. It sounded like something perfect for him and he became a member of EM3.

Vincent’s brother Greg would always ask him if he had gone on any “good” jobs lately. There would always be a story about this or that accident but then he would complain that he never seemed to be on duty for the “Big Jobs”. On that September morning Officer Danz was on duty for the biggest job ever. He was among the first to get to the towers and entered the WTC after the first airplane hit but before the second. What was he doing that day? It is estimated that Officer Danz and the other first responders saved perhaps 25,000 lives that day by assisting in their evacuation. But they didn’t get them all.

While Vincent’s body was doing its duty his thoughts were in another place thinking of his wife and three young daughters. Taking a brief moment he called his wife Angela but got only the answering machine. "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." It was the last message the family heard. Pray we get these people out … oh, and pray for me too. He was posthumously awarded the New York City Police Department's Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts to save others.

Aside from being a member of an elite unit, Vincent Danz sought out other ways to serve his country. Police Officer Danz joined the United States Coast Guard Reserve drilling at CG Activities New York near the Verazanno Bridge on Staten Island, just across the harbor from the twin towers. He was a Petty Officer Second Class and served as a member of the Port Security Unit (PSU).

September 27th is known as Heroes Day in the Coast Guard and is the day when all Coast Guard heroes are remembered. The day was chosen in honor of Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro who was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 500 Marines that day in 1942 at Guadalcanal. It is appropriate that on September 27, 2002 in Munro Hall at Training Center Cape May, New Jersey a plaque and memorial were unveiled. A room used to train Reservists was dedicated in memory of Officer Danz and Firefighter Jeffrey Palazzo, another USCG Reservist lost at the Trade Center. Two more heroes to be remembered on Hero Day and every day.

Carpenter, Marine, Coastguardsman, and Police Officer; but that hardly sums up the life of Vincent Danz. More importantly he was a brother, a son, a husband to Angela, and a father to three daughters Winifred, Emily and Abigail. Vincent’s sacrifice is complete while theirs continues.

John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Police Officer Vincent G. Danz
New York City Police Department, New York
End of Watch: Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Age: 38
Tour of Duty: 14 years
Badge Number: 2166

And our flag was still there