Please allow me to indulge in some family connections on this page of the website.

When I started research of the Island's firefighting history I was firmly under the impression that I was the first member of my family to have served in the fire service.

My own family's history is deeply rooted in the British Army. I did my bit in my younger years with the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and prior to that every generation of my direct line descendents had served in varying capacities. My father Terence Patrick Corr served at home and in Cyprus with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, his father Sidney Alexander Corr served with the Royal Irish (Ulster) Rifles and the Isle of Wight Rifles for an excess of thirty years (his brothers William Christopher and Robert James served similar terms, the latter from boy soldier of WW1 to Major by 1946). Their father, my great grandfather, served also in the RIR from 1885, survived the notorious Siege of Ladysmith, and requested discharge as Colour Sergeant 19 years later. When the losses of WW1 proved substantial he felt compelled to rejoin at nearly 50 years old! My great great grandfather Alexander served in India with the 33rd Regiment of Foot during the mid-Victorian era and before that my third-great grandfather John Corr survived the Battle of Waterloo with the 32nd Regiment of Foot. There didn't seem to be anyone or any space for any of my ancestors to have served as firemen.

However things were to change that opinion as the result of the shattering consequence of reconnecting with the branch of the family that emigrated to America many years before. 

 

Firefighter Joseph Hunter

Squad 288

Fire Department of New York

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.

Joe's former South Hempstead Chief Joe Remy; "He was probably the most revered member of our department,” said the former Chief, a 35-year member who had known Hunter since he was a small boy who got excited every time the fire truck went past his house. Remy helped organize a memorial service in early November 2011 for Hunter, whose body had not been found, "It wasn't just that Hunter was 6'2" and stunningly handsome that attracted people to him, the young bachelor always drew lively crowds when bartending in Rockville Centre and Long Beach on the weekends. What really set the firefighter apart was his compassion. A developmentally disabled man had become one of the firefighter's fans and would come every Saturday night to take his place among the crowd gathered at the bar, Hunter took him under his wing, and God forbid anybody picked on that man."

 

Joe's brother Sean; “He graduated school with a business degree, but he always knew he wanted to be a firefighter.”

"He saw the towers. They saw it. These guys in this firehouse knew what they were going to. They went anyway,” said Sean's wife, Rosemary.

“They were the first ones on the scene. They went right through the Queens Midtown Tunnel,” Sean said. “So to see him confident, looking up at the building, he kept on walking past the cameras, that gave us a lot of courage and hope."

 

Joe died alongside five members of his Squad when the tower collapsed upon them and many more besides. Joe's remains are among the 1,100 that have never been identified.

 

Rest in peace Firefighter Joseph Hunter.