FDNY Ladder Company 61 Views the Coffin of a Bronx Firefighter Killed in Iraq
Leaden skies and steady drizzle set an ominous tone as Ladder Company 61 members from FDNY lined up to view Army National Guard Sergeant Christian Engeldrum’s coffin at Ladder Company 61 headquarters. Engeldrum, who worked in Manhattan-based “Fighting 69th” regiment was killed November 29 in Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated beneath his Humvee.
Early Life and Education
Yesterday, the coffin of an NYC fireman killed in Iraq was transported back home as thousands of somber colleagues and family members gathered at their firehouses for memorial services.
At the firehouse in Co-op City in the Bronx, a flag was flown at half-staff while photographs of Engeldrum surrounded by flowers lay on a table. Engeldrum’s devastated widow and two sons also were present at this funeral house.
Sean, 18, made his way up the steps towards his father’s casket accompanied by his 17-year-old brother Royce who turned 16 the day he died in Iraq; Michael stayed behind in New York. Seven National Guard pallbearers from Engeldrum’s unit, the 69th Regiment were among mourners present for this funeral procession.
Engeldrum had long served the FDNY when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. According to Geraldine Engeldrum’s mother, she described him as being like “a child in a man’s body,” who loved telling Army stories.
Nicholas Scoppetta joined other members in mourning the 39-year-old Engeldrum from Bronx who served with the Army National Guard as sergeant, including being involved with Operation Desert Storm and having experienced 9/11 terror attacks first hand.
On Tuesday, his son Royce became part of an inspirational six-member class that refused to give up their dreams of joining New York City’s Bravest. Although his father was killed in Iraq, the youngster pledged his commitment to his legacy. A 32-year-old Bridgeport man was charged yesterday with first-degree manslaughter and intimidation due to bias for allegedly striking Engeldrum with a baseball bat during an assault that ultimately caused his death.
Achievement and Honors
On Friday in Arlington, Virginia, an ex-New York City firefighter, Army National Guard sergeant and Operation Desert Storm veteran was laid to rest. According to reports by his family, he had been killed outside Baghdad on Monday by a roadside bomb that hit his Humvee.
Sharon, his two teenage sons and members of both FDNY and NY Army National Guard attended his funeral at St Benedict’s Church in Throgs Neck. At his memorial service, his FDNY and Army buddies held up a flag-draped coffin in honor of this firefighter whose last assignment was Ladder Company 61 in the Bronx.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has requested that Engeldrum’s death be officially designated as a line-of-duty death, so his pregnant widow may collect her full firefighter pension and military benefits. To be approved by both state legislature and City Council.
At an emotional Mass attended by police officers, firefighters and military officials from Baghdad, Engeldrum was remembered fondly. A five-year fire veteran who also served with the Army National Guard, Engeldrum was killed when his vehicle came under attack outside Baghdad on November 29.
According to a sworn affidavit filed in this case, Humphrey saw Engeldrum as gay and believed he was seeking sexual encounters, according to The Bridgeport Post. Humphrey then beat Engeldrum about the head; two days later he died due to injuries from this assault.
His parents traveled from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to attend his service at St. Benedict’s in the Throgs Neck section of Bronx. He leaves behind his wife Sharon and two children Owen and Jillian.
On Tuesday in the Bronx, an honoring ceremony and funeral were held for an NYC firefighter and Army National Guard soldier who died while deployed to Iraq, and who will be laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery. His death leaves behind his wife and two sons.
He was blessed to have many loving nieces and nephews whom he enjoyed spending time with – they brought great happiness during March Madness!
He was a five-year veteran of the New York Fire Department, serving with Ladder Co. 61 in Co-op City of Bronx and responding to World Trade Center attacks in September 2001. Additionally, he received multiple military decorations. Mayor Michael Bloomberg would like to honor him by proclaiming his death a line-of-duty death allowing his pregnant widow access to full firefighter pension and benefits.