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Officer Paul W. Jurgens


Officer Jurgens's Act of Heroism

Over 400 first responders lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Heroically performing their sworn duty, these firefighters, members of the NYPD and PAPD, and numerous other rescue workers will forever be remembered for their sacrifice.

My Hero

Those who knew Paul Jurgens said his life was divided into three parts: family, work and practical jokes. He excelled at all three.

He joined the Port Authority police in 1980 and developed such expertise as a rescuer that he was made an instructor at the authority's Rescue Training Center. On the morning of Sept. 11, Mr. Jurgens, 47, was driving from Kennedy International Airport to Jersey City, but he detoured and was last seen speeding to the World Trade Center to help. In 1992, he rushed onto a burning jumbo jet that had crashed on takeoff at Kennedy and helped usher all 292 passengers to safety.

"What he did was unusual and heroic," said Sgt. Mike Florie, one of his supervisors. "It's hot and smoke-filled, and you're risking your life."

On weekends, he loved to shoot baskets and throw softballs with Paul Jr., 17, June, 15, and Lindsay, 9. He and his wife, Maria, also loved inviting friends over to barbecues.

"He always used to say, 'I got it made. I got the greatest wife, the greatest kids and the greatest job,' " she said.

As for practical jokes, his brother-in-law, Tony Liotta, recalled that when he woke up after dozing off one evening after dinner, he found "Paul Jurgens is my hero" written on his arm.

At a memorial service in Levittown, N.Y., Mr. Liotta said, "Now I realize how true that is."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 7, 2001.
Information courtesy of the Remember 9/11/2001 memorial site on


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