Captain John Russo speaks about Captain
Lester A. Roberts
Captain Joseph Russo, commanding officer
of Engine Company 254 (Watchdawgs) spoke eloquently about
Captain Lester A. Roberts, Here is his speech and other
information provided by Captain Russo.
Greetings, and welcome to the quarters of Engine 254
and Ladder 153 of the Brooklyn formerly known as Gravesend.
We gather here this morning to celebrate a mass for
all the deceased members of Ladder 153 and Engine Company
254 and especially to honor the memory of a fallen hero.
Captain Lester Augustus Roberts, a forty-year veteran
of the FDNY, served as the Company Commander of Engine
254 from Jan. 1, 1913, until his death on January 9, 1924.
His granddaughter, Marie Roberts, brought this fact
to our attention one afternoon several months ago. Since
our records in quarters do not go back that far, FF Jim
Del Bionic made a call to the department, and remarkably,
a personnel record was still on file. A reading of that
file would tell you that he was appointed to the FDNY
on April 1, 1885, at age 23. His former occupation list
sailor. During his four decades with the Fire Department
* was promoted three times; to Lieutenant Dec. 9 1895
to Captain on December 10, 1896, and on April 13, 1898
he was promoted to Acting Battalion Chief. .....Under
the heading "Roll of merit", there are three dates;
June 22, 1885, Feb. 22 1992 and May 14,1894.
Under the remarks column is a recording of the announcement
of his death that was printed on Department Order #6 of
If that was all we had to go on, we could conclude
that he had a very full and active career. Fortunately
for us, Captain Robert's biography was included in a historical
book written about the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
To quote from page 247 of that colorful text,
"As a firefighter he was second to none in efficiency.
As a Commanding Officer he was excelled by none in the
capacity for handling men for the intrepid dash and daring
of the most brilliant type. Even in the face of seemingly
sure death when emergency and catastrophe called for courage
of the highest quality"
I thank you all for joining us to remember our fallen
brothers and the dedication of this plaque in honor of
Captain Father John, for his blessings, Julius Pontercorvo,
the Pipers. To all our invited guest and members of the
dais for taking the time to be with us on this special
A special thank you to the members of " Ave. U" for
their work to make this day a success, and to Lenni Kohler
and her staff in solving all the logistical problems.
To Commissioner Von Essen for supporting our efforts
to give proper recognition to a fallen hero.
In closing I would like to thank Marie Roberts for
re connecting us with an important part of our past. Generations
of firefighters will learn the meaning of dedication to
duty from the presents of these memorial plaques