Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Memoriam: LT. ROBERT NEARY AND FIREFIGHTER DANIEL SWEENEY


(From ALa: Captain America and I met here in the blogosphere years before my brother was even a firefighter in Philadelphia. Through a small-world twist of fates, my brother is now a firefighter at the very station where Captain America is indeed a Captain. Yesterday in the early morning as news of 2 firemen killed and 3 fighting for their lives made its way on to the local news, my mother and I struggled to remember if my brother had been working the night before...he hadn't. He had left the firehouse at 5 the previous evening. He wasn't one of the five. My thoughts quickly went to Captain America, but realized they had said one was a Lieutenant, not a Captain. And then I just broke down and cried because I felt extreme guilt at being so relieved that it wasn't my brother or anyone else I knew. Because it was someone's son. Someone's dad. Someone's husband... Even after having my father and my uncle in the PFD my entire life, that panic is something you never get used to...or the subsequent guilt and sadness. )

This is from Captain America's blog, First In!. It was written for him by one of his best friends and fellow Philly blogger (and police officer) Wyatt Earp:

Hello folks, Wyatt here. Captain America asked if I could post about Lieutenant Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney, who were killed in the line of duty on Monday, April 9th. Both Robert and Daniel worked out of Cap’s local (fire station), and he knew them well. It is the first time Cap has lost someone under his command, and as you can probably guess, he is devastated. Currently, he has been reassigned to the family detail – making sure the Neary and Sweeney families are taken care of.

Local 22 released a statement yesterday, and I wanted to post it. It’s below the fold.

To Our Union Brothers and Sisters, Friends and Colleagues:

It is with heavy hearts that we must inform you of the tragic deaths of two of our own, Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney, both assigned to Ladder 10 on the C platoon, who died in the line of duty in the early morning hours of Monday, April 9th while battling a 5-alarm warehouse inferno in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

Lt. Robert Neary had 38 years with the department. He had been a Lieutenant since 1983. He was awarded four unit citations in his career. Before joining the fire department, he was a Philadelphia Police officer for three years and served as an Army reservist for 10 years, attaining the rank of Sergeant 1st Class. Lt. Robert Neary leaves behind his wife, Diane, and their three children.

Firefighter Daniel Sweeney followed in the footsteps of his father, Captain David Sweeney (Ret.), and joined the Philadelphia Fire Department in July of 2006. He had been stationed at Ladder 10 since 2007. Daniel was awarded two unit citations in his career. He was the loving son of his parents, David and Marian Sweeney

IAFF Local 22 will soon be announcing ways you can help to support the families of our fallen brothers in their time of need.

This fierce, wind-driven warehouse fire also seriously injured two other firefighters, FF Francis Chaney and FF Pat Nally. Both members are currently being treated at Temple University Hospital. FF Nally is a five-year veteran and is currently in critical but stable condition. FF Chaney is an eight-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department and is currently admitted in stable condition.

Please keep all of our fallen and injured brothers and their families in your thoughts and prayers. We will update you further as more details emerge. We thank you for your compassion and support during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Bill Gault
President
IAFF Local 22

For those not in the know, Cap lives two doors down from me. We have been neighbors and friends for almost fifteen years. He sent me a text message yesterday, saying, “This is the worst day of my life.” Having lost a co-worker in the line of duty, I can tell you that it is the most soul-crushing event you can endure. It makes you take stock of your life, and forces you to appreciate every precious moment.

Please keep the Neary and Sweeney families in your prayers, as well as the members of the Philadelphia Fire Department – especially the heroes of Engine 7, Ladder 10.

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