Honoring No. 16
Take a walk out to the Saddle Rock Bridge over Udalls Pond in Great Neck, on Long Island, and you will see the Manhattan skyline, forever altered by a terrorist attack. Look down from the vista toward the railing of the span and you will see a North High School Blazers hockey jersey, No. 16.
The jersey belonged to Jonathan L. Ielpi, 29, a New York City firefighter from Great Neck who was among the first to reach the twin towers. Mr. Ielpi's sister, Melissa, put it there just 24 hours after the disaster. It is still tacked to the railing, among flowers and candles. "Jonathan loved playing hockey, but he gave it up when he joined the Fire Department," Ms. Ielpi said. "He was just very nervous that he'd hurt himself and wouldn't be able to do his job."
That was Jonathan Ielpi ‹ more concerned about others than he was about himself. He not only worked for Squad 288 in Queens; he also served as the chief of the Volunteer Vigilant Fire Department in his hometown.
If you cannot find Saddle Rock Bridge or Udalls Pond, just head over to Great Neck's skating rink. There, from the rafters, hangs an enormous banner emblazoned with Mr. Ielpi's name and jersey number, which the Blazers recently retired.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 22, 2001.