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MEMORIES OF PAUL
Paul, Tina, Debra and I went Upstate to his father's cabin in Pine Bush. Paul said "Let's go to the Ice Caverns". It was February or March. We drove there and from the sign it looked like they were closed. But Paul says there are other people, so we decide to do the whole tour --about 2 miles.
There was so much ice and the paths were frozen over. Paul's cracking up saying "the Ice Caverns don't open until April." Tina & Debra are freaking out -- Paul has them thinking we are all going to jail for trespassing. At the end of the path, we can't fit out of the opening because it is iced over and was 6 feet up! After all, it is Winter. The girls couldn't walk back; Debra had already slid and fell down a hill; we were all hysterical laughing. Paul says we can lift and push the girls through that opening and then Paul and I can walk back. I say "No way, let the girls walk back too".
Paul was the gentleman and we pushed the girls out through the hole. So Paul and I ended up finding another short cut over the cave and met up with the girls. We laughed so hard, even now telling this story I'm laughing.
I have so many memories of Paul.
I remember his sweet, caring nature -- how in 1993 he called to make sure I was safe when the World Trade Center was first bombed , even though I worked on the other side of town. I remember how he reassured me when I expressed concern about his becoming a firefighter -- telling me that being construction worker is statistically more dangerous.
I remember what a good sport he was, always congratulating me when my Yankees won the World Series and his Mets didn't -- I wouldn't have done the same! He even took it well when I outfitted his sons in Yankee hats, shirts and jackets and took them to Yankee games, winning their allegiance to the Pinstripes.
I remember how he danced with me at his dad's and my wedding.
I remember the Christmas Eve Dinners (Italian style -- all seafood). One particular Christmas Eve dinner I cherish is Christmas 1998, when he was attending the Fire Academy. He came straight from the Academy to our house. We had already had the appetizers (the children were starving, as usual) and I had put aside a plate for him -- with lots of baked clams (his favorites). As he ate, he was regaling us all with funny stories of "Probie School" and we were all laughing.
I remember how after every holiday dinner after packing up the children, leftovers and gifts, he always came back upstairs to give me a hug, thank me for cooking and always say "love ya."
I remember the Christmas trips to the City to see the decorations; the trips to amusement parks with the Aaron and Joshua, the weekends in the Poconos. A couple of special memories from the Poconos always bring a smile to my face. When Joshua was in his "terrible twos" and acting up, Paul told me to be firm with him, to discipline him. I ended up telling Joshua "No" and slapping my own hand. Paul laughed and asked me what I was going to do next, send myself to my room?
I remember one summer night in the Poconos, after dinner Paul was out on the deck overlooking the mountain. He heard a bird calling across the mountain and began calling it by imitating its call "Whip-Poor-Will, Whip-Poor-Will", until the bird was in our back yard. He was so proud and said "Hey Dad, come here -- I called this bird from across the mountain." When John found out what Paul had done, he came running out, yelling at the bird, saying to Paul, "What did you do? That bird has been driving us nuts, waking us up at daybreak every morning for months; I finally chased him away only last week!!" We all laughed -- Tina, myself, Aaron & Joshua -- and Paul, teasingly asking his dad "What's wrong, Dad, that's a beautiful bird; I thought you'd be happy."
That's the memory I'll cherish and hold close to my heart. Paul sitting on the deck in the cool evening breeze with his hat on backwards, looking out over the mountain, all of us just laughing and all of us being together.
Georgette Gill, Step Mom
Kevin Williams, Friend & Firefighter Brother, Engine 54
Reflections & Memories from Memorial Service
Paul & I met at the Fire Academy three years ago. It was the last week of "Probie" School & everyone was getting their assignments. When I found out another firefighter and I were being assigned to Engine 54, Ladder, I really didn't know where it was; I didn't know much about it. Paul knew where it was from talking to the instructors & we talked for a while about it and he told me that if you're going anywhere, 48th & 8th -- Midtown -- can't get much better than that.
For our first tours, Paul was coming off a night tour & I was starting a day tour. Our lockers just happened to be side-by-side. So, Paul & I talked a bit more. It was there that I noticed all his tattoos & the earrings he had. I showed him my tattoo, he decided I needed a few more. He started designing a few for me and that's when I realized that Paul was an avid drawer -- he was a fine artist….
When one of the Battalion Chiefs retired, in his honor, Paul painted a Maltese Cross outside the firehouse. When people would stop & ask "who did it", we would say it was one of our own that did it.
Paul was also an avid basketball player, especially in the firehouse. To compensate for his lack of height, he had a wicked outside shot. He was in such good shape, he could play 2 or 3 games in a row, whereas most of the guys could only maybe 20 minutes or so.
Paul talked about his children often -- Aaron & Joshua -- they meant everything to him. He loved to spend time with them & Paul wasn't working -- at the firehouse or on the side trying to provide better…for them, he stayed with his family; he was there with them.
Paul was a step-up guy -- for his family and at the firehouse. If you needed a quick mutual, he was there for you. If you were doing work on your house, he was the first one to step up & help you do whatever you were doing.
I only knew Paul for three years -- I wish it would have been more….We lost a lot of friends & brothers that day. But Paul was probably the hardest for me. I will never forget him. I was privileged to know him as a friend.
I was honored to call him my brother.
Joe Poliseno, Friend & Firefighter Brother, Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9
Reflections & Memories from Memorial Service
When Mr. Gill asked me if I would say a few words, I said "Sure, no problem."
Paul first got to the firehouse about three years -- what a character he was! That hat on backwards -- the tattoos -- I mean he looked something from a cartoon, but he was great, he was hilarious.
We became close early on. He was bass player; I'm a drummer, so we had the musical thing in common. But the best part about working with Paul was, I knew I would always have a cigarette during the day! Either he had them or I had them, but it was great.
He loved to draw; he loved his tattoos; he loved his music; he loved his children the most. He didn't have to say much. When he came into work, you knew when the kids were okay -- he was smiling. But if they were sick or something was wrong, you could see it in his eyes. He didn't have to say anything. He would pull me aside & we would talk.
[Talking to Aaron & Joshua] He just loved you guys so much. He was proud of both of you and you should both be proud of him. I'll remember him -- he did a great job on that day, like the rest of our brothers. They'll never be forgotten.
Captain Robert Cooper, Ladder 119, Hooper Street, Brooklyn, New York
Reflections & Memories from Memorial Service
How do you measure a man's worth?
Is it in the number of years he spent on the earth? Or is in the work he had done, the knowledge he has accumulated, the friends he has surrounded himself with and the lives he has saved?
When thinking of Paul, I prefer to use the latter.
I had the pleasure of working with Paul while he assigned to Ladder 119 from October of 1999 until January of 2001. And although his time spent in Ladder 119 was relatively short, his influence on the firehouse and members reached beyond that one year spent with us.
As a firefighter, Paul was someone you would trust your life with. He was knowledgeable and always wanted to learn more in order to make himself a better firefighter.
When given a job, whether at the scene of a fire or around the firehouse, you could count on Paul to get the job done, get it done right and, if he would learn anything in the process, you could bet he would do a better job the next time.
He was confident in his abilities -- not a loud, boastful, hollow confidence, but a quiet confidence that came from his experience & training.
Paul proved himself again & again. Specifically, at a building collapse on Middleton Street in Williamsburg for which he received a unit citation for the work he & the other members of Ladder 119 performed at that incident.
Paul's abilities also extended beyond firefighting.
Paul was an artist and put his talents to use around the firehouse. He did the lettering on the firehouse photo plaque, which ends on Engine 211, Ladder 119's kitchen wall. And he painted the Ladder Company & Engine Company logos on the rear of the apparatus floor. Both of these jobs took hours upon hours of work & Paul did much of it on his own time while off duty.
Besides being an artist, Paul was also a canvas! With his tattoos, piercings & yellow hair -- which earned him the nickname of "Pony Boy", and a constant smile which never left his face.
And, of course, anyone who was able to spend some serious moments with Paul, knows how devoted he was to his sons and how very proud he was of them.
I would like to close by reading a portion of King Henry's speech at Agencourt from William Shakespeare's King Henry V. I think it captures the courage & spirit of Paul and the other Heroes who responded to the World Trade Center on September 11th.
This story shall the good man teach his son
From this day to the ending of the world,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother,
Be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen now a-bed shall think themselves
accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhood cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us on this day.
Remarks by The Honorable Rudolph Guiliani,
Mayor of New York City
Memorial Service Honoring Firefighter Paul Gill
To the men & women of the New York City Fire Department, particularly those who served alongside Firefighter Paul Gill and Engine Company 54, Ladder 119, Engine Company 261 -- particularly to his beautiful family…to his sons, Aaron & Joshua, his parents, his sister, our City will never forget the sacrifice & the courage of Firefighter Gill and all of his brothers.
He was only 34 years old; he had been with the Department for only three years. He had already received two citations for valor.
This was the beginning of a very, very distinguished career in the Fire Department.
Firefighter Gill was a very important part of a very proud firehouse that made an enormous sacrifice on September 11th. Altogether, that House lost 15 very, very brave men.
The firehouse protects the theatre district and its slogan as you can see here is "Never Missed a Performance" and they didn't miss on September 11th -- a day on which they were needed.
I didn't have the honor of knowing Paul.
I wish I did. It sounds like he was a really great guy -- and a little bit different.
Apparently, he had an artistic side; he loved to draw, play the guitar and drums.
In High School, he acted in school plays….
It may be that September 11th was our darkest day -- it was -- our worst day, but it was also the greatest day in the history of the City. We never had more people act more honorably, more notably, more courageously.
The firefighters who carried out this rescue effort…were able to save more lives than any group of people have ever been able to do before in the history of New York or, at least, of America.
Over 25,000 people were taken out of those buildings alive.
This is after all, what they trained to do.
This is what they take an oath to do.
And this is what they're taught to do;
Ad they keep practicing to do and they do day in & day out.
They probably never thought they had to do under these conditions.
But when called upon to do it under conditions that no one could possibly have imagined or trained for, they did it better than anyone could ever have any right to expect.
We always knew in New York that we had the best Fire Department in the World
And now the world knows that we have the best Fire Department.
To my cousin Paul,
The last time we saw each other was on my wedding day. That day now holds another special meaning for me and I will remember you always.
Luckily I have you captured on video as Eddie and I danced our last dance. There you are swaying back and forth and singing along to the music. You will be forever in our hearts and minds until we meet again someday in Heaven.
Below is a poem that a girl wrote for her father about an "Unknown Hero";
A true hero, just like Paul.
We love you Paul and you will never be forgotten!
An alarm cries out in the early morning light, an unknown hero runs with all his might.
He grabs his gear and off he'll go, what lies ahead he does not know.
The sirens cry and the red lights shine, saving the lives of others is on his mind.
He does his job with all his pride, never knowing when his own life will be on the line.
He calls for the ladder and grabs a hose, into action to save others he goes. An unknown hero he will be a firefighter, as you can see.
The hero of those who are in need, Call on him and he'll be there indeed.
An unknown hero he will be a name among many from sea to sea.
childhood friend for 23 years
The story I remember the best of Paul was when one night
we hung out at his house to watch the kids.
Tina was going out with some friends and it was around 10:00 p.m.
when Paul decided to give his two sons Aaron and Joshua some candy sticks.
Now if you remember these candy sticks as a child, they are 100% sugar.
At that moment Tina was walking in from her night out with friends
and she sees her two sons eating this candy that Paul gave them
and she just couldn't believe what she was seeing and carried on how sugar at 10:00 p.m. is not really smart to give to kids right before bed time.
The moral of the story is Paul and I just couldn't stop laughing because in Paul's eyes he thought nothing about it,
because he was the kind of person who meant well but,
we don't see everything the way other people do.
So for the rest of the night we hung out with his two sons, Aaron and Joshua, who were not really sleepy at the time because of Paul's kindness.
Tina, on the other hand, got over it quick because
she knew in her heart that Paul was just being Paul.
You had to be there to get the laugh I still get many, many years after this happened.
(Sugar+2kids= No Sleep)
I remember a 4th of July when my brother John came to visit my folks in Weymouth, MA. Grandparents Pa John, Grammy Ruby, would host the New York Gill Family.
The setting would be somewhere around 1973-74. Great cookout with Paul, Michele and my wife Betty and little girl Pammy. Brothers Steve and Roger would be there too.
My parents had a dog named Buddy. This dog was loved and he was willing to run and catch anything if you would just play with him.
Well, 7 year old Paul joined in with his uncles in a Frisbee toss of "keep away" from Buddy . Well, that little dog was faster than all of us and he kept it away from us.
I don't remember if it was Paul or his dad who suggested using the lid to the plastic garbage barrel in this game of keep away, well it worked! It slowed Buddy down and we had fun, fun fun.
When Paul was around there was joy, fun and the making of wonderful memories.
We had an excursion out to The Statue Of Liberty in 1986 just after Lady Liberty was refurbished. A blend of New York Gills with New England Gills would trapse through Queens and Manhattan with a 19 year old Paul Gill. He, being our host and guide, made possible a fun-filled day in a City that was his backyard. The day ended at South Street SeaPort where Paul showed us how to eat New York Style!
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