To commemorate the 15 years since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Department will hold a ceremony at Jonathan L. Ielpi Firefighters’ Park on Sunday, Sept. 11.
Before heading to the park in firetrucks, firefighters will gather at the firehouse at 83 Cutter Mill Rd. at 8 a.m. to hold a short ceremony.
Formerly known as Grace Avenue Park, Firefighters’ Park was dedicated to lifelong Great Neck resident Jonathan Lee Ielpi, who lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001 while working as a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department.
Being a firefighter was Ielpi’s passion and dream from the time he was a young boy. He first became a junior firefighter with the Great Neck Alert Fire Company. At 17, he became a volunteer firefighter with the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company. During his 12 years as a member of Vigilant, he worked his way up, becoming a lieutenant, captain and eventually an assistant chief.
The most important thing in Ielpi’s life, besides his family, was to serve the public. He was always at the firehouse on Cuttermill Road. If there was a drill, he would not only attend, but would teach the drill.
Ielpi responded to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center with an elite engine company in Queens, Squad 288. His passion and dedication ultimately led to his death when he and six members of Squad 288 were killed while helping those in need in the South Tower when it collapsed at 9:59 a.m. Ielpi was just 29 and left behind a wife and two young boys.