Captain John R. Graziano was larger than life. He was devoted to his family, friends, and career. My father was our hero growing up. He showed us how to love and respect those around us and how to handle and deal with the situations that can arise through life. He taught us loyalty and devotion to our family. He was a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and a voice of reason.
In February 1982, he received the call from the FDNY. From the day he stepped foot in the academy to the day he retired, he was in love and devoted to the department. At the start of his career he was assigned to Ladder 172/Engine 330 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in October 1995 and assigned to Ladder 132/Engine 280 in downtown Brooklyn, where one of his toughest challenges as a supervisor occurred on 9/11/2001. He had been out with an injury that summer and was due in for the night tour. However, that morning when the Towers were hit, he responded. He knew his brothers would need him, no matter the cost. For months, he spent day in and day out searching for civilians and fellow firefighters lost or missing at Ground Zero.
For years after the tragedy of 9/11, he was a family liaison for seven families of brother firefighters who were lost in Ladder 132/Engine 280 and gave his all to help these families cope with their loss. He was promoted to captain in July 2002 and assigned to Ladder 78/Engine 155 in Staten Island. In October 2003, when the Staten Island Ferry crashed into a concrete pier, he ran the search and rescue operation where 11 people were killed and 165 were injured. In 2008, he made the toughest decision he ever had to. After 26 years, he decided to hang up the gear and start a new chapter in his life. For five years, he lived life to the fullest.
In July 2013, he took on his toughest battle yet, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer from the toxins at Ground Zero. He fought for 22 months. In March 2015, he was able to don his uniform one more time for his son’s graduation from the NYPD Emergency Service Unit Specialized Training School.
He passed later that week, but his strength, heart, and dedication and love to family and friends kept him here to see that happen. He will forever be our hero, father, and best friend. He will never be forgotten; we will never forget.