Vincent F. Giammona: Born to Be
about 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 7, Lt. Vincent F. Giammona was
at Coney Island, flashing his fireman's badge and, once
again, pushing the limits.
He had just spent the morning exploring the aquarium
with his wife, Theresa, and their two youngest daughters
-- Nicolette, 4, and Daniella, 2. They had started back
home to Valley Stream, when, suddenly, he turned the car
around. He couldn't go to Coney Island without riding the
Cyclone roller coaster.
But the Cyclone would not open until 6 p.m.,
Lieutenant Giammona was told. He smiled and jabbered
about his upcoming birthday (he would turn 40 in four
days, on Sept. 11th). Soon, the Cyclone was creaking up
into the sunshine, carrying one passenger. His daughters
He lived for moments like this. Using fake buck teeth,
an accent or his infamous Elvis costume, he would
transform household errands or roll call at the firehouse
into improv comedy. At sporting events involving his two
older daughters -- Francesca, 8 and Toni-Ann, 6 -- his
cheering was an aerobic workout. At Ladder 5 on Houston
Street, he taught rookies about high-rise fires and
downtown bars. They called him "Lieutenant Fun."
The morning of Lieutenant Giammona's 40th birthday,
Theresa would hear his voice for the last time: he said
goodbye during a brief phone call while hurrying to the
World Trade Center. On Sept. 7, though, when the Cyclone
started its descent, she heard him shout with joy.