Battalion Chief Richard A. Prunty (Rich)
Six months after the attacks on America‚ CBS aired a special that provided a glimpse into what occurred inside the towers. Amidst a crowd of firefighters in the lobby of the North Tower‚ the camera zooms in on Battalion Chief Richard Prunty. The voice of French filmmaker Jules Naudet remarks‚ ‘There’s Chief Prunty. Great guy – white hair‚ mustache. The perfect kind of grandfather that you would like to have.’ Husband to Susan‚ father to Christopher and Lisa‚ Rich would have been a superb grandfather.
After graduating from Alfred State Tech in 1963 with an Associates degree in Applied Science‚ Rich performed electrical work for the New York Subway system. For nearly 2 years (1966-1967)‚ he served in South Korea during the Vietnam War‚ maintaining the radars and radios within the demilitarized zone‚ or ‘Freedom’s Frontier’ as Rich referred to it in jest.
In November 1968‚ he joined the Fire Department. Later‚ in 1978 he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from NYIT (New York Institute of Technology). Rich served nearly 33 years – first as firefighter‚ then Lieutenant‚ then Captain‚ finally Battalion Chief. Each promotion required intense studies to pass difficult tests.
Rich was born in Brooklyn‚ New York‚ part of a large family‚ and grew up in Lake Ronkonkoma‚ Long Island‚ where he attended Sachem High School. After marrying‚ he spent the rest of his life in Sayville with his wife and children.
Rich was a quiet gentleman‚ but he chose his words carefully‚ and – when produced – his smile and laughter were endearing. His appearance was somewhat gruff at first glance‚ but Rich was always there to lend help and kindness – to anyone.
His last sacrifice was true to his nature – to the nature of most everyone who serves their community or nation. A certain kind of person is drawn to those professions – the kind willing to give all that’s within for another human being.
While still in radio contact with fellow trapped firefighters‚ Rich managed to relay his final message: ‘Please tell my wife and children that I love them very much.’