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Officer John Lennon


Officer Lennon'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

John Lennon Sr. recounts the story as a tribute to his son, John "Jay" Lennon of Howell, one of 37 Port Authority police officers lost in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

The elder Lennon said his granddaughter, Katie Lennon, 12, one of Mr. Lennon's four children, was watching a survivor of the tragedy being interviewed on television when the individual said he and many other people owed their lives to an "Officer Lennon" who led them out of the smoke-filled building to safety. Lennon Sr. said the survivor then added that when he turned to thank him, his son was already heading back into the building to attempt to rescue others.

From 1993 until early this year, Mr. Lennon, 44, had been a member of the Port Authority's Emergency Service and Rescue Unit. In 1993, he had the grim role of pulling the dead from the rubble of the World Trade Center following the terrorist bombing there. Mr. Lennon received three excellent police duty citations for his heroics.

"There were 117 miles of corridors in the World Trade Center," his father said. "The emergency services unit knew every inch."

Mr. Lennon could have retired two years ago with 20 years of service, his father said, but enjoyed his career too much to quit. Officer Lennon was in Jersey City, where he was assigned as a court liaison, when he learned of the terrorist attack and joined in the rescue response.

"As a police officer, Jay was very conscientious, very caring," said Sgt. Ed Spinelli of Millstone Township, a former partner on the rescue unit. "This guy never had a complaint against him, and I don't think he ever went sick. He had a perfect record and a lot of commendations for rescues."

Mr. Lennon's father recalled that his son was leery of heights and would ask him to repair roofing problems for him. "One day I open the Daily News and there he is rappelling off the Brooklyn Bridge to grab and save a potential suicide victim," he fondly recalled.

Mr. Lennon was raised in Brooklyn and starred as a basketball player at Nazareth High School. He graduated from St. Francis College there. He and his father teamed up to coach baseball in the Howell Central Little League for 12 years. He also coached baseball and basketball at St. Veronica's School in the township for two years.

In addition to his father and daughter, Mr. Lennon is survived by his mother, Lucille; his wife, Patricia Poole Lennon; another daughter, Melissa, 20; sons John III, 18, and Christopher, 10; a brother, James; a sister, Nancy Lennon Frain; and other relatives.

Profile by Tom Hester published in THE STAR-LEDGER.
Information courtesy of the Remember 9/11/2001 memorial site on


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