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Maspeth firefighter honored for sacrifice made on 9/11

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Timothy Hunter touches flags placed at a Maspeth memorial. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Sean Hunter attends the Maspeth ceremony with his son Timothy Joseph and wife Rosemary. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The names of firefighters from Squad 288-HazMat 1 decorate small flags at an event in Maspeth Saturday. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (front) and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley attend the Maspeth memorial ceremony. Photo by Christina Santucci
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About 100 people gathered in Maspeth Saturday to pay tribute to 19 of the city’s Bravest who perished on 9/11. Photo by Christina Santucci
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A bench was placed in Maspeth Memorial Park in remembrance of the firefighters. Photo by Christina Santucci

Joseph Hunter always pictured himself as a member of the city’s Bravest.

“He graduated school with a business degree, but he always knew he wanted to be a firefighter,” said Joseph’s brother, Sean Hunter.

And on Sept. 11, 2001, Joseph Hunter, a six-year veteran of the FDNY, had a clear view of the World Trade Center from the firehouse of Squad 288/HazMat 1 in Maspeth.

“He saw the towers. They saw it. These guys in this firehouse knew what they were going to. They went anyway,” said Sean Hunter’s wife, Rosemary.

Every year, the Hunters pay tribute to the Long Island native alongside the relatives of fellow firefighters from the Maspeth firehouse, which had the most casualties of any in the city on 9/11.

“They are extended family. They were his family,” Rosemary Hunter said of the 9/11 families.

Squad 288 and HazMat 1, within the same building on 68th Street, lost 19 members in total in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

“They were the first ones on the scene. They went right through the [Queens Midtown] Tunnel,” Sean Hunter said.

This year, about 100 people gathered at the Maspeth Memorial Park, at 69th Street and Grand Avenue, Saturday for a solemn ceremony, which included the laying of wreaths, poetry readings and a musical performance by Liz and Bill Huisman.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and state Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Ridgewood) both spoke, and relatives of the firefighters placed small flags in front of a memorial, which features a piece of steel from Ground Zero.

After the ceremony, the Hunters brought their son Timothy Joseph, 3, up to the memorial to take photos with a miniature flag bearing Joe Hunter’s name.

“I want him to know what the history is,” Sean Hunter said. “It means a lot to us that he should know about it and keep the history alive and keep the memory alive and never forget 9/11.”

From the memorial, the Manhattan skyline is visible on a clear day.

Rosemary Hunter said her family is grateful for the opportunity to commemorate at the place her brother-in-law loved most, and credited Maspeth Federal Savings, which holds the annual remembrance, for continuing to do so 12 years later.

“This was his firehouse. He loved being here. He loved coming here. He would even come here just to study,” Sean Hunter said.

In the days following 9/11, Sean Hunter spotted his brother in a news clip of firefighters heading into the World Trade Center before the towers fell.

“So to see him confident, looking up at the building — he kept on walking past the cameras — that gave us a lot of courage and hope,” he said.

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