Friends, family and colleagues gathered in West Islip Monday to say goodbye to Frederick "Freddy" H. Gallagher, a retired New York City firefighter who "made the ultimate sacrifice."
Firefighters lined up outside Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in West Islip as Gallagher’s coffin arrived atop a fire truck from Ladder Co. 103. The somber procession included several FDNY vehicles and the Pipe and Drum Band.
Family members said Gallagher, who served in the FDNY for 28 years, died last week from 9/11-related cancer. The veteran firefighter had assisted in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.
Gallagher, 61, worked in Brooklyn throughout his FDNY career, starting at Engine Co. 290 when he was appointed in 1986 and later joined Ladder Co. 103. He retired in 2012.
Retired FDNY Capt. Joseph Clerici, who was Gallagher’s commanding officer from 1998 to 2002, remembered him as a "devoted husband and excellent firefighter" who mentored many young firefighters.
"He answered our nation’s call to Ground Zero and ended up making the ultimate sacrifice," Clerici told reporters after the service. "We are here today to honor him."
Gallagher was known for his sense of humor, friends and colleagues said.
"He was very good at busting chops," Clerici said with a laugh. "He didn’t care what rank you were … he’s going to be sorely missed."
Gallagher was also involved in coaching and was a longtime member of the football staff at St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington.
Longtime friend Ray Leudesdorff recalled Gallagher’s generosity.
"Fred was a loving guy," Leudesdorff said. "He would do anything for anybody and never look for anything in return … When we come across a situation we don't know how to handle in the future, you think what would Freddie do and then you would make the right choice."
Gallagher’s parents, Lillian and Frederick W. Gallagher, of West Islip, had said last week their son was diagnosed with cancer over two years ago. They said the cancer originated in his colon, liver and lungs but spread to the rest of his body by the time he was diagnosed.
Frederick W. Gallagher, a retired member of the FDNY, had said his son spent every moment he could helping his colleagues at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.
— With Michael O'Keeffe