FDNY gathers for funeral of Retired Firefighter William J. Gormley of Ladder 174

June 23, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Firefighters carry Gormley’s casket and salute the fallen hero. Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta

Beloved First Responder Battled 9/11-Related Illness

On Wednesday, more than 300 firefighters attended a funeral Mass for retired firefighter William John Gormley at St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church at 1550 Hendrickson St. in Flatlands. 

Gormley, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps., died on June 14 surrounded by his family, his wife Lizanne and children Bridget, William, Raymond and Kevin. He joined FDNY in 1988 and retired from the East Flatbush Ladder Company 174 in 2006.

The 53-year-old Gormley, a first responder on 9/11, died following a short battle with lung cancer. The illness has been linked to his heroic actions 16 years earlier at the World Trade Center.

“There are no words to describe my brother,” said his sister Kathy Khatari. “He never had a bad word for anyone. He loved kids and laughter. We know we lost him to a 9/11-related cancer but my brother would have done it all over again. He was a man with integrity and he was a true patriot and an American hero.”

An emotional Khatari also challenged the media to accurately report the facts surrounding 9/11-related illnesses. “They don’t report what is really happening here. There are dozens of first responders dying and being treated poorly by the city. They are oftentimes even pushed out of hospitals before they die. These men are heroes who sacrificed their health — and their lives — to take care of us.” 

According to a report in the Daily News, since the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in which 343 firefighters and 23 NYPD cops were killed, an additional 157 firefighters have died of 9/11-related illnesses. Additionally, by the end of 2016, 132 additional NYPD cops had died of illnesses that can be linked to their time at Ground Zero.

Khatari recalled her brother’s dream of always wanting serve his community. “He always wanted to be a fireman. My uncle is a retired battalion chief, my cousin is a retired captain and now my son — and Billy’s three sons — are going to take the FDNY test in October. It’s in our blood.”