Community Corner

Firefighter In Morris Co. Remembers Her Dad, Lost On 9/11

Years after Carl Francis Asaro's death, Rebecca Asaro and her brothers carried on his legacy.

FDNY firefighter Rebecca Asaro spoke at Morris County's 9/11 ceremony about her father, who gave his life trying to save others from the attacks.
FDNY firefighter Rebecca Asaro spoke at Morris County's 9/11 ceremony about her father, who gave his life trying to save others from the attacks. (Morris County)

PARSIPPANY, NJ — Heloiza Asaro frantically paced, trying to contact the firehouse and her husband's pager, to no avail. Rebecca Asaro, then 9, would wait by the window each day from her father to come home.

But he never returned after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Carl Francis Asaro and 14 members of his FDNY firehouse died that fateful day. But they were never forgotten. Rebecca Asaro, now a firefighter, made sure of that Sunday when she memorialized her father Sunday at the Morris County 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony.

"It is said that you only truly die when your name is mentioned for the last time," Asaro said. "If that is held to be true, then my father's legacy, along with all other heroes who sacrificed their lives that day, will live on forever."

Find out what's happening in Morristown with free, real-time updates from Patch.

Asaro describes her father as "an absolute character." His smile and positive demeanor felt intoxicating, and he would always lend a stranger a helping hand.

Carl Francis Asaro played guitar, saxophone, piano and clarinet. After dinner, he and his children would spend hours rehearsing Grateful Dead songs.

Find out what's happening in Morristown with free, real-time updates from Patch.

"Some children had bedtimes and lullabies," Rebecca Asaro said. "But the Asaro kids had Grateful Dead concerts."

FDNY veteran John Fila met the family at a company picnic in the summer of 2001. He remembers a lot of kids at once, all over everything.

"They were the best," he said.

Months later, the attacks killed 343 FDNY members. Fila, a Boonton native, would have died too if he hadn't switched shifts that day. He holds painful memories after Sept. 11 of widows and children asking if their family member had been found, only to have no answer.

But after 9/11, the family of fallen firefighters joined the ranks. And years later, Fila saw their children suit up. They include Rebecca and her three brothers.

"I ask some of the widows how they feel about their children becoming firefighters," Fila said. "They all say the same thing: 'I couldn't stop them if I tried, because that's what they wanted to do.'"

Each day that Asaro goes to work, she feels proud seeing her father's picture on the left as she enters the apparatus floor. It's a reminder his blood runs through her, and she can accomplish anything with dedication and heart, she says.

"Remember these men and their last moments on earth," Asaro said. "Relive the moments that you hold dear and that made them the unique individuals they are and always will be. Last but not least, recite their stories for others to know what it's like to truly live without fear."

Thanks for reading. Learn more about posting announcements or events to your local Patch site. Have a news tip? Email josh.bakan@patch.com. Subscribe to your local Patch newsletter and follow the Parsippany Patch Facebook page.

The rules of replying:

  • Be respectful. This is a space for friendly local discussions. No racist, discriminatory, vulgar or threatening language will be tolerated.
  • Be transparent. Use your real name, and back up your claims.
  • Keep it local and relevant. Make sure your replies stay on topic.
  • Review the Patch Community Guidelines.