The discovery that a cousin in the United States is a firefighter should have been one of great excitement and induced an opportunity to make a connection across the Atlantic and, as all firefighters tend to do, compare notes about how we do our jobs.
Sadly that wasn't to be the case with Joe Hunter as my discovery of his firefighting career was coupled to the discovery that he was one of the 343 New York firefighters who died in the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001.
Since then I've connected with both his engine house in Queens where he was a member of Squad 288 and South Hempstead Volunteer Fire Department where he had previously served in the quiet village neighbourhood set in Nassau County, New York.
Following the events of 9-11 with which we are sadly familiar, Elizabeth Moore of the South Hempstead volunteers wrote; It was about three days after the Sept. 11 attacks. The members of the South Hempstead Volunteer Fire Department had been wrenched from their daily lives and put on what would be a week of continuous standby duty at their firehouse. Their eyes had been glued to CNN pretty much the whole time. Suddenly one of the guys saw a familiar face in the endlessly cycling news clips Joseph Hunter, 32 -- a city firefighter with Squad 288 who had been a South Hempstead volunteer since he turned 18 -- walking into the World Trade Center with two other firefighters in the disaster's early minutes. Hunter had been missing all week.
The news footage to which Elizabeth refers is that below.