FDNY’er Chip Chipura was at home on Staten Island and had just finished having breakfast with his baby daughters, who were just 9 months old and 18 months old. It was his next-door neighbor, who Chip called his surrogate mom, that first told him about the plane hitting The World Trade Center. When the 2nd plane hit, Chip knew there would be a recall of all FDNY’ers to report, there was no one to watch his baby girls. His wife was at work and his next-door neighbor, his go-to babysitter, had left in her car moments before. Chip could hear the voice of his big brother John in his head: “Your priority is your family. Take care of your children”. So as much as Chip wanted to go to the site, he knew he had to stay home.
Chip always looked up to his big brother, a Marine who survived the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that left more than 300 dead. John Chipura was also a New York City firefighter, and he knew his brother was already at The World Trade Center. So was his sister, Nancy, who worked in one of the towers. Chip quickly learned his sister was ok, when she called him from a nearby store to report she escaped the tower. But his big brother John was among the 1-thousand FDNY’ers who were missing after the collapse of the Twin Towers. For days, Chip and his family clung to the hope that John survived as he did in Beirut. John Chipura was just 39 when he and 342 other FDNY’ers were killed.