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PR- 144-12
April 21, 2012


The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared for delivery this morning at the Church of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Lake Ronkonkoma, NY:

“Good morning everyone. Firefighting isn’t just an occupation. It’s a vocation, a mission and a passion. Today, it’s my privilege to praise the memory of one of New York’s Bravest, who understood that and who lived it and taught it to others: FDNY Lieutenant Richard Nappi.

“So to family members – to his wife and children, Mary Anne, Catherine, and Nicholas; to his father and stepmother, Sonny and JoAnne; to his mother, Regina; and his brothers, Robert and Steven – speaking for 8.4 million New Yorkers, I can tell you that, like you, we’re deeply saddened to lose him.

“And we’re also incredibly grateful for the 17 years he gave to protecting us, and the greatest city in the world. The place where Rich did that most recently was in one of our oldest and also fastest-changing neighborhoods: Bushwick in Brooklyn.

“And it’s kind of fitting that the mascot at his firehouse there – Engine 237 – is a bulldog: ‘Mugsy,’ by name. Now, I’m not the first person to notice that people and their pets often have similarities. And no question about it, Mugsy and Rich had a few things in common. A stocky, powerful build; a playful, outgoing personality; and a tough, bulldog determination.

“Rich’s fun-loving side was there for all to see. Even after he was promoted to lieutenant, he never lost his taste for firehouse pranks. And just a few days ago, he was in his element and in his red jersey at the Nassau Coliseum, text-messaging updates on an event he lived for: the annual New York City ‘Battle of the Badges’ hockey game.

“The final score, by the way, was FDNY 3, NYPD 2. But I somehow doubt if that’s news to most of you. So Rich loved a good time. But just like a bulldog, he was also all-business: not just at fires like the one he helped bring under control in Brooklyn on Monday, but also when it came to training the firefighters in his command.

“He kept them on their toes, constantly learning and sharpening their skills. He took every opportunity to put them through drills, or take them to re-visit fire scenes and unlock the lessons that could be learned there. And in recent years, he brought that same attitude, and passed on his wealth of experience and know-how, at Suffolk County’s Fire Academy.

“A good estimate is that he instructed more than 10,000 volunteer firefighters there. And in a way, that brought his life back full circle. Because it was as an 18-year-old volunteer in the Smithtown Fire Department here on the Island that Rich truly found his calling in life.

“Rich was also a devoted husband and father. When he wasn’t at the firehouse, a good place to find him was at one of Nicholas’s or Catherine’s Little League or softball games. And he was always happy to have either one at his side for a Rangers hockey game.

“He was such a regular at the Garden that a few years ago he even appeared in a Rangers ad campaign. And he’ll be there in spirit tonight, when the Rangers get the upper hand on the Ottawa Senators.

“Mary Anne, Rich’s spirit will always be with you. And I want you to know: All of us will be, too. The FDNY is a family – one that takes care of its own, especially in times of need. They’ve been by your side throughout this terrible week. They – and we – will continue to be there for you every step of the way.

“And Catherine and Nicholas, I lost my father, too, although at an age when I was a bit older than you are. Still, I think I can understand what you’re feeling now. I can tell you that in my case, as time passed, what remained for my sister, my mother, and me was the wonderful memories we had of a man we loved. I believe that will be true for you, too.

“And when you think of your father, I hope you’ll also recall what I’m about to say to you now: that some ten and a half years ago – a time neither of you can remember – your father rushed to the firehouse he was assigned to then, in Lower Manhattan, on the darkest day in our city’s history.

“On 9/11 – and then day after day, for weeks on end, like so many others, including your uncle Robert, he worked amid the smoking rubble of the World Trade Center. Those were difficult times for our city, and for the fire department that meant everything to your father.

“In the course of one morning, 343 of its members, and decades of experience and leadership, were wiped out. And part of why we’re so grateful for your father is because he was such a big part of rebuilding the world’s greatest fire department over these past ten years.

“I promise you: The people of New York City will never forget him. So may God bless the memory and rest the soul of this brave and good man. And may God bless the Fire Department of New York.”


Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958


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