The 2,996 project: Robert Linnane

In 2006 I took part in something called The 2,996 Project. The man I was assigned to memorialize was Robert Linnane, a firefighter with Ladder 20 in Manhattan. I hadn’t checked before but they have continued this project on a yearly basis and I failed to see that. Therefore I’m going to reprint my original tribute to Robert on my new blog since my old blog is no longer up.

God bless you Bobby.

Robert Linnane: I’ll meet you on the run

The words are stark in their clarity and brevity:

Last Name: Linnane Company: FDNY Assignment: Ladder 20 City, State: Manhattan NY Last location: World Trade Center Status Presumed Lost From Manhattan NY Country USA Company FDNY Date of Birth/Age Unknown / 33 Last Known Location World Trade Center Survived by: Background FDNY Firefighter – Ladder 20. Of West Hempstead. Heroically in the line of duty on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center disaster.Bob was 33 years old and a firefighter for the FDNY for almost two years, loving every minute of it. Bob started out in Engine 219/Ladder 105 in Brooklyn and was serving most recently in Ladder 20 in Manhattan, where he is missing with his comrades. Devoted son of the late Bridget and John. Beloved brother of John and Vincent. Caring brother in law of Janice. Adoring uncle of Samantha. Also survived by cousins in North America and Great Britain as well as an army of friends both personally and with the FDNY. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Firefighters Widows and Childrens Fund. A Memorial Mass will be held Saturday October 6, 2001 at 12:00 noon at St. Thomas the Apostle R.C. Church West Hempstead, NY.

The best words are those used by those who knew and loved Bob Linnane, and those are the words I wish to place here for all to read. They capture his essense and his humanity more effectively…I think you’ll agree.

There’s a reason Bob Linnane’s sister-in-law used to call him “Bob Gump” after the character in the movie “Forrest Gump.”

“He just used to surface in the oddest places,” said Janice Linnane of East Northport. “He would call from the beaches on Nice, just to say hi. He took off to Russia once and came back with a picture of him and Michael Jackson … Half the time, we didn’t even know where he was.”

She could guess what he was doing, however – “Probably sightseeing, meeting women and drinking beer.”

And another:

I worked with Bob at Delta. He was at the ticket counter and I was in the office in back. Even when he transfered down to the maintenance area at midnights, I would go visit him, just to hear about his goal to be a firefighter and just sit around and laugh at his stories. A great friend and funny guy I will always miss. -Melissa Pierre (Glendale, NY )

Bob worked for Delta for eight years before joining the FDNY.

Another:

The last time I saw Bob was 1997. I was trudging through the snow to get to a party at a bar–Bob pulled over to save me from freezing, and we made our way there together.Bob was always smiling, making you laugh, and full of funny stories and opinions…although I had not seen him in years, I’ll never forget that he was a beautiful person. – Tina Spizuoco & John Isaacson (Hawley, PA)

And another:

I met you once in La Guardian airport. You helped me by the professional way you have. I didn´t get flight for same day so I have to stay over a night in NY. Next day you called after me to ask how am I at Atlanta airport. It was planned to make calls during my holiday but I didn´t get your phone number correct. But after my holiday I found your address from Internet and I wrote to you a letter. Since then we wrote email quite often. You were planned to come Finland one day and you remind me about that week before WTC. But we did not have time enough. I will always remember you. Why can not we met ever again, my dear Delta Agent. Your place is in my heart always. – Saara Karvo (Oulu, Finland)

At the family house, the answering machine still has Linnane’s voice on it. “Some of his friends call there,” Vinny Linnane said. “Of course, they don’t leave a message. They just call to hear his voice.”

Robert Linnane is a man I wish I’d known in this life, and one I will look for in the next. Judging from what people wrote above, and in the profile below, it shouldn’t be hard to locate him.

From a profile in the NY Times, December 5, 2001:

Robert Linnane was a horrible dresser. With the ridiculous bright red shorts that he jogged in while training to join the Fire Department and the mismatched get-ups that he called evening wear, he was a walking affront to the eyes.

“We would have to make him go inside and change,” said Al Belfiore, a friend.

This shortcoming was tolerated by Firefighter Linnane’s friends all over the world because of his cheerful, easygoing and tolerant personality.

An enthusiastic traveler, he had worked for Delta Air Lines for nearly a decade before becoming a firefighter. He took every opportunity to fly off and meet new people, and he often had a pass to bring one of his New York friends along.

“It was a life that people liked hearing stories about,” said his brother Vincent.

It was a life that ended at 33 as a New York firefighter — he had passed the daunting physical tests and joined the department after his 30th birthday. His body was identified by the Grateful Dead tattoo on his ankle. His favorite song, a Dead standard titled “Sugaree,” says:

I’ll meet you at the Jubilee
If that Jubilee don’t come
Maybe I’ll meet you on the run.

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2 thoughts on “The 2,996 project: Robert Linnane

  1. Pingback: Friday Five – Volume 95 | Mere Observations

  2. One of my best friends a honor to know you . We forged our friendship on the streets of New York I cherished everyday we hung out and laughed in your car listening to Rob lundy.. Ive always regretted pressing you to go into work on Septembet 10th 2001 …I think about you all the time and all the fun And laughs we had together . You were like a brother to me and I’ll always cherish our friendship ” if that jubilee don’t come ,,,, then maybe I’ll meet you on the run …. I can’t wait to meet you on the run Bro. Your friend & brother Jim DeBari….

    Like

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