Andrew J. Desperito: He Died
Desperito is desperately searching for a Josephine who
survived the World Trade Center disaster. She doesn't
know who Josephine is-or even her last name. But she
wants to find out.
All Desperito knows is that her husband, Andrew, a
firefighter, saved the woman last Tuesday.
She found out about the woman and her husband's
heroism from Capt. Kenny Erb of Engine Co. 1 whenhe
arrived at her East Patchogue home at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday
to tell her that Andrew had died in the disaster.
Now Laura wants her three children- Nicole, 13,
Anthony, 10 and David, 6-to know about the woman their
"He ordered his men out," Laura said. "He said, 'I'll
be just a few steps behind you.' He just happened to be a
few steps too close to the building."
Andrew, 43, always wanted to be a firefighter. But he
first became a police officer in 1984 until he received
his call of a lifetime from the fire department in
"He was ecstatic," Laura recalled. "It was the best
thing that ever happened to him."
He rose to the rank of lieutenant and worked at Engine
No. 1 on 31st Street in Chelsea.
Just last month the family had spent nearly a week
vacationing at Walt Disney World. "It was like the best
vacation we ever had," Laura said, noting that the
children were a little older now than when they had taken
them on previous vacations and had more stamina to stay
in the park longer.
Laura knew Andrew was the man she would marry shortly
after they met in 1979. "It didn't take me long because
he always treated me like a queen," Laura said.
They married on Sept. 25, 1982, and would have
celebrated their 19th anniversary next week. The couple
already had plans to vacation in Hawaii and Las Vegas for
their 25th anniversary in 2007, just as they had done for
their 10th anniversary.
Andrew loved to cook. "People would say, 'Oh, Laura,
this is the best dish I ever had,' and I'd say, 'Tell my
husband,'" she said.
Last Tuesday morning, Laura walked into a Sam's Club
store and saw everyone gathered around TV sets.
She rushed home. "Everyone was calling to say, 'Oh, I
think I saw him [on TV],'" Laura recalled.
She finally reached the firehouse by telephone. "They
said, 'Well everybody made it back. We're hoping Andy's
in the hospital,'" she said.
That's all she heard until the wee hours of Wednesday
The last time Andrew Desperito, 43, was summoned to
rescue victims of a terrorist bombing of the World Trade
Center, in 1993, he suffered from smoke inhalation but
otherwise emerged unscathed.
Last week, as Desperito escorted a woman to safety
from the north tower, he was buried under crumbling
"Your father died a hero," Laura Desperito told the
couple's three children, Nicole, 13, Anthony, 10, and
Desperito joined the New York Police Department in
1984, and transferred to the city's fire department in
1987. His wife finds comfort in knowing that he gave his
life helping others, and that the woman he was aiding at
the time survived.
"It was so typical of him," Laura Desperito said.
Like many firefighters, there was more to Desperito's
life than the fire hall.
Desperito, of East Patchouge, Long Island, believed it
was a father's duty to coach his children's soccer teams,
even though he had never played.
So he attended coaching seminars and clinics, studied
the game on television, and in his own quiet way led
Anthony's team to a league victory.
"He never yelled at the kids on the sidelines when
they were playing," Laura Desperito said. "He'd see all
these other coaches going nuts, and he'd just be quiet.
He was never negative about anything."
In addition to his wife and children, Desperito is
survived by his parents, Adele and Anthony Desperito, and
a sister, Diane Laveglia, of Greenpoint, N.Y.
(The Los Angeles Times)
Andrew Desperito, 43, spent three years as a New York
City police officer before becoming a firefighter 14
years ago. He stayed behind helping victims in One World
Trade Center, even after Two World Trade Center had
"I always knew he was a hero," said his wife, Laura,
who would have celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary
this month. "He was incredible, and I'm drawing my
strength from him."
Desperito was a father of three and enjoyed coaching
his 10-year-old son's soccer team in the East Patchogue,
N.Y., area where they lived.
Laura Desperito said she has learned her husband was
on the 23rd floor of One World Trade Center when he and
the men he was with heard a roar and were told over their
radios that the other building had come down.
The men headed outside, but Desperito said she has
been told by her husband's team that he stopped and
ordered them ahead after coming across a woman having
trouble making her escape. He had just exited when the
"He was too close," his wife said.
Desperito's body was among the first recovered last
week, Laura Desperito said, and a wake was held for him
Desperito said she had been planning the family's
future, including renovations to their home. Now she is
deciding where to bury her husband.
"There's a cemetery here, where through the trees you
can see where the children play soccer," she said. "He
can hear them and he'll be happy."
(The Chicago Tribune)