Joe had a heart of gold and was always willing to help anyone who was in trouble, no matter who it was. He could be loud and funny or sometimes escape to a corner. At his firehouse, he was known as Joe-Lo. He was a prankster and a Yankees fan. He loved a good joke, and his sunny disposition drew others to him. But he was a complicated man who had lived through tough times.
Joe was drafted into the Army to serve in Vietnam during the worst years of the war. He served in the Tay Ninh Province and Chu Lai from 1966 to 1967 as a fire direction specialist for the 82nd Artillery, 196th Light Infantry Brigade. He received a Letter of Commendation for heroism defending his platoon from the Viet Cong when they were pinned down in an ambush. He received a Bronze Star with a “V” Device, a Purple Heart, and several other medals. But Joe never bragged about his Vietnam experiences. These medals and commendations were discovered after his death. In fact, his time in Vietnam was something that he rarely spoke of.
After his return from Vietnam, Joe started work in the FDNY. His firehouses were in some of the poorest and most densely populated areas of Brooklyn and Queens. He married, had two sons, and would often let one or the other accompany him on a night tour to the firehouse. He was a good cook at the firehouse, and his eventual weight gain testified to his love for the firehouse kitchen table. Like many firefighters, Joe worked different “side jobs.”
Joe was a devoted and generous father to his children. A second marriage produced a daughter. He was a hands-on dad, taking her to Daddy & Me, dance class, Girl Scouts, etc. There was nothing that he wouldn’t do for his children. During our marriage, after he retired, we visited Alaska, Mexico, and Hawaii. His big dream was to go to Italy, and on August 8, 2008 we renewed our vows cruising around Italy. At that time, Joe’s health was not too problematic for travel. The impact of his work doing rescue and recovery at the 9-11 WTC site eventually curtailed all further travel.
Joe was an avid reader, and we enjoyed doing crossword puzzles together. When the weather was good, Joe and I would sit in our yard and enjoy nature and the many improvements we had made. He was a wonderful husband who never forgot a birthday or an anniversary. He could always make me laugh, even when I got mad at him. I have many beautiful memories of our marriage, the love and life we shared, and how special he was as a person and as my best friend. We miss him every day since he passed on September 13, 2019.