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Loved ones' drive, devotion live on for families, friends
Capt. Daniel Brethel
Seeing firefighters run past him in lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, Capt. Daniel Brethel shouted out a warning.
"Firemen will die here today," he said. "Don't let it be you."
Brethel, 44, was one of the many firefighters who perished when the World Trade Center collapsed.
He died as he pulled fellow firefighter Michael Weinberg under a truck, the force of the falling building crushing them both.
A week later Brethel's family and colleagues attended a funeral for the decorated 22-year veteran in Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in North Merrick, N.Y., on Long Island. A full honor guard met the firefighter's coffin, and the raised ladders on trucks formed a passage for the funeral procession.
The service was held in the same church where Brethel had been baptized, where he had received First Communion, where he had been married.
Brethel had spent his childhood dreaming of becoming a firefighter.
His family has a home movie of him in a firefighter's hat at age 5. As a teenager he followed firetrucks when they went on a call.
Once his dream was realized, he rose through the ranks.
His men called him "Captain Dan."
"I am sure he will be called Captain Dan again when he commands the fallen firefighters who perished on that tragic day," said one of the firefighters who spoke at his service.
Edward Porter Felt
Edward Porter Felt was a hands-on dad. When he put aside his work for a computer software firm, he spent his time helping one daughter with her math homework or squiring the other daughter to running competitions.
"He took them canoeing; he took them outdoors," said Felt's wife, Sandra Valdez Felt. "He took them to church every Sunday."
Felt, 41, was a longtime resident of Matawan, N.J. He was taking a last-minute business trip to San Francisco when his plane was hijacked and crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
"He was a man of peace," his wife told reporters. "He didn't approve of violence. He didn't even like cursing.
"He was devoted to his church and to his children and to me."
James Waters was a senior vice president at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods who was often asked by Bloomberg news service to provide the color behind economic data for financial analysts.
Waters, 39, was born in Danbury, Conn., and grew up in Litchfield, Conn., where his mother, Joanne, lives. He also is survived by a younger brother and sister.
Co-worker Jeffrey M. Zwirn said Waters loved golf and going to the Hamptons, where he would sit on the beach and read financial news magazines. Neighbors Barbara and George Kovacs remembered how "smashing" he looked when he set out each weekday for his job as a senior vice president specializing in trading and sales of fixed-income products.
"There's no question about it. He was enjoying a tremendous amount of success," Zwirn said.
Waters, who was single, was a graduate of George Washington University and had worked at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods since 1997.
He was among those reported missing in the collapse of the World Trade Center.
His mother said her son was "honest and noble" and a bit on the quiet side. He loved to talk politics and had attended three presidential inaugurations, for both Bushes and Ronald Reagan.
On Sept. 11 Waters was in his office on the 89th floor of the south tower when the north tower was struck by a hijacked airliner.
He e-mailed colleagues at Bloomberg to say he was OK and called his mother, leaving a message with his younger brother that he was safe. His mom was at the post office when he called.
She tried to call him back after returning, but his phone was busy.
She saw the second jet strike the south tower on television. "I've been devastated ever since," she said.
Donna Bowen, among those confirmed dead from the attack on the Pentagon, spent more than 20 years working for Verizon Communications and its predecessor, C&P Telephone. But work was not the first thing that came to mind when people thought of her, her husband, Eugene, said.
"Verizon would let her leave work one day a week to work at Berry Elementary," he said, the school in Waldorf, Md., where the couple's three children are enrolled. "Whenever she wasn't at work, all her attention was given to children's education. All her spare time, she was down at the school."
Mrs. Bowen, 42, was a communications representative for Verizon under contract to the Pentagon. A longtime member of Local 2336 of the Communications Workers of America, she had been at the Pentagon three years, working with Army accountants on questions related to their phone bills.
A Boston native, she moved to Waldorf after marrying 11 years ago. The couple have two daughters, ages 7 and 10, and a son, 8.
A New York City firefighter, Christopher Blackwell, 42, is among hundreds of missing rescuers. He lived in Putnam Lake, N.Y., but kept ties to his native New Fairfield, Conn., and since the early 1990s had worked part time as a paramedic with nearby Danbury Ambulance, earning the respect of his colleagues.
"He's like our local hero. For him to work in that rescue company and then come here, he brought a lot of knowledge and experience to us in this area," said Matthew Cassavechia, director of operations at Danbury Ambulance.
He started as a volunteer firefighter at age 16, said his mother, Frances Blackwell Allan, who lives in Danbury. He worked for more than 20 years and was recognized with the Kenney Award for Courage and the New York Medal of Valor.
Through his paramedic work with Danbury Ambulance, he was known at the Ridgefield Fire Department, where he visited about a week before the attacks and was attempting to set up training classes for firefighters. His specialty, Ridgefield Fire Chief Louis Yarrish said, was building collapses and trench rescues. Yarrish described Blackwell as dedicated to work, his wife and his three children.
Tribune staff reporter John Keilman and staff writers from Tribune newspapers The Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, and Newsday contributed to this report.
"He loved his job and helping people," Yarrish said. "That's Chris; he'd risk his life to save someone else's."