Frank Palombo died on 9/11 after his Brooklyn unit, Ladder 105, was called to the World Trade Center. His son is set to carry on his legacy with New York City's Bravest.
For two of the FDNY’s newest, being the Bravest runs in their blood — and they know only too well what that trait can cost.
Thomas Palombo, 24, and Harry Ford Jr., 27, lost their firefighter fathers to the job just months apart from each other.
On June 17, 2001, Ford’s namesake ran into a burning warehouse in Astoria with the Rescue 4 team. The elder Ford was one of three firefighters and parents who died battling the blaze that became known as the Father’s Day Fire. The trio had eight children between them.
Three months later, Frank Palombo’s Brooklyn unit, Ladder 105, was called to the World Trade Center.
“I was in school. I remember my friend across the hall was like, ‘A plane just hit a building,’ ” Palombo remembered.
“I knew my dad was at work, but he was in Brooklyn so I thought there was no way.”
Ford and Palombo will be among the 310 probationary firefighters graduating Tuesday at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.
They aren’t the only graduates who know the pangs of losing a parent in the line of duty.
Soon-to-be firefighter James Sullivan, 25, is also following in his father’s footsteps. Lawrence Sullivan, of Rescue 5, died in 2012 from a 9/11-related illness.
Expectant grad Joseph Herman, 27, lost his father, Jeff Herman, in 1989. His dad had been on the police force for four years and was working in Brooklyn’s 71st Precinct when a gunman ambushed him.
Palombo and Ford say they had already envisioned themselves as smoke-eaters when their fathers perished. Their loss strengthened their resolve to carry on their fathers’ legacies. For Palombo, it was the hand his father’s firehouse had in taking care of him, his mother and nine other siblings.
“In the months leading after that ... all the firefighters from 105 and (Engine) 219 were coming to my house constantly. They were always there throwing the ball with us,” Palombo said.
“There was a brotherhood always there, cooking us dinner, taking care of us. They spent time away from their families to come to us.”
Palombo’s graduation is a salute to both his parents, he said. His mom died in 2013.
Ford said going through the 18-week training has been cathartic.
“It’s been a dream coming, meeting people that knew him, hearing how he was with them,” Ford said. “It’s really good to know these people are looking out for me ... It means everything to me, to be able to get through this and live up to the name.”
Now both men are eager to prove their mettle on the job.
“I’m very excited,” Palombo said.
“I feel like I have every emotion going through me. It’s a dream come true.”
by Ryan Sit