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FDNY captain who worked on 9/11 recovery honored in Holbrook

A street was renamed Sunday for Vincent Rocco Ungaro, who worked near the fallen towers and died in 2016 of leukemia.

Dianne Ungaro, second from right, comforts daughter Jessica

Dianne Ungaro, second from right, comforts daughter Jessica Panico as a Holbrook street is renamed for her late husband, FDNY Capt. Vincent Rocco Ungaro, on Sunday. Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

An FDNY firefighter from Holbrook who risked his life during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks had a street renamed after him Sunday.

Capt. Vincent Rocco Ungaro, of Engine Company 8 in lower Manhattan, died in October 2016 at age 60 after a battle with leukemia, which family and Islip officials said was a result of working near the site of the towers in the six months after the attacks.

Ungaro was home gardening when he got the call about the attacks, Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said Sunday during the dedication in Holbrook.

“It was at that moment that he did what he was supposed to do,” she said.

But on the way, his car broke down and he eventually hitchhiked to Manhattan, officials said. “His name will be remembered forever,” Carpenter said.

The street naming was at the intersection of Inverness Road and Broadway Avenue in Holbrook. Inverness Road will now be called Capt. Vincent Ungaro Way.

More than 110 family members and friends attended the ceremony, along with about 130 firefighters.

“It’s a day to remember that Vinny won’t be forgotten, that all of his efforts in the recovery of 9/11 and what made him sick will be remembered,” said Rosemary Faiella, a spokeswoman for the Ungaro family. “Vinny spent months and months digging through the rubble, looking for the remains of his friends.”

Those who knew Ungaro best say the fire department and his family were most important to him.

His daughter, Jessica Panico, knew this, and three weeks before her scheduled wedding, she married Michael Panico in the intensive care unit of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, where her father was being treated, so he could be present when she wed, Faiella said.

“The nurses decorated the hallway and she was married in front of her father,” Faiella said. Vincent Ungaro died before the scheduled wedding.

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