Wednesday, September 06, 2006

2996 Project: Stephen Huczko, PAPD

I first wrote about my friend and coworker, Stephen Huczko, shortly after the World Trade Center was attacked five years ago.

Steve was considerate, sweet, funny and compassionate. When I remarried, Steve and his lovely wife were there. As my new husband and I were introduced, noticing the champagne had not been poured for the toast, it was Steve who jumped in and started pouring. Steve was always ready to do that: jump in to help.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, he jumped in again. Steve was a Port Authority Police officer, a registered nurse and an EMT, working at PAPD headquarters in Jersey City that morning. When the first plane hit, he was among those who headed right to the scene. His remains were found with five other Port Authority Police personnel and a woman they were trying to carry out of Tower One. They made it to the lobby, their bodies found about two feet from the doors.

Steve crammed a lot of life into his 44 years. In addition to his work as a police officer and successfully studying to become a registered nurse, he was also a drummer with the Port Authority Pipe and Drum Band. Steve received a Valor award for his actions during the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and was also cited for his rescue efforts during a Federal Express plane crash at Newark International Airport in August, 1997.

But to Steve, his most important accomplishments were centered on his family. He adored his wife, Kathleen, and his four children: Kaitlyn, Liam, Cullen and Aiden. Everything he did was for his family. They were the center of his world.

A mutual friend told me that he and Steve were carpooling home from work one day when Steve told him to stop the car, right on the highway. Steve had noticed some wildflowers growing in the median, and he wanted to bring some home to his wife. I can just imagine him scurrying across the highway to pick a bouquet of flowers.

That image has stayed with me through the years since he and so many others were taken from us. Knowing the kind of man he was, he is no doubt still alive in the hearts and minds of all who knew him, which is where he will remain for as long as we live. Whenever I see a sunrise or sunset, or even a field of wildflowers, I see Steve.

I miss you, my friend.

Joanne Eckert

Please read about the other 2995 victims of the 9/11 attacks here:


Tom Vollmar said...

I've shared your story. You're welcome to come and see what I've written. The link appears below.


LiveJournal Community: CLOUDKICKER'S

SwordandSacrifice said...

A great testimony to a great hero. Thank you and I'm sorry for your loss.

My memorial to Richie Myhre is here:

healthpsych said...

Courage beyond measure.

I'm sorry you lost such a great friend, that his family lost a beloved partner and father, that the police force lost such a brave colleague, that the world lost such a selfless hero.

Thoughts and prayers to you and Stephen's family.