Firefighter Ronnie Gies is promoted to FDNY lieutenant on Wednesday, he will dedicate the milestone to his father, whose dreams of moving up the ranks of the Bravest ended on Sept. 11, 2001. Gies’s father,
Ronald Gies Sr., had passed all the tests and was on the promotion list when he was killed as the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
I’m going to be thinking about him when I get on the stage, Ronnie Gies, Jr., 36, said the day before his promotion ceremony at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. I’m going to let him know I’m doing this for him. The soon-to-be Lt. Gies was a sophomore at Calhoun High School in Merrick, L.I. when his 43-year-old dad died in the 9/11 terror attacks.
Gies was at home when he heard that two jumbo jets had hit the towers. A few hours later, he learned that his father was missing. I was a 16-year-old teenager having to become a man pretty quick, said Gies, who joined the department in 2008.
His older brother Tommy Gies, became a firefighter in 2004 and proudly wears their father’s FDNY badge number, 11524, as he battles blazes as part of Ladder 147 in Flat bush. At the time of his death, Gies Sr. was a member of Squad 288/Hazmat 1 in Maspeth, Queens. Nineteen members from the two units were killed on 9/11, the largest loss of life suffered by any FDNY firehouse that day, officials said.
His son Ronnie has spent nearly all of his career at Ladder Company 175 in East New York. When Ronnie Gies’ six week lieutenant course work is over, he will be moved to another command. It’s bitter sweet, he said about his promotion. I’ve worked at the same place for about 11 years. I’ve created a family there.
Gies remembers watching his father study for the lieutenant’s exam. It was something he worked really hard for, he said. I’m proud to be able to do it for him. Gies had studied to become a sports agent before joining the department. He fully admits that he wouldn’t have thought of becoming a firefighter if it weren’t for his father’s sacrifice to the city.
If my dad was still alive today I wouldn’t be a firefighter , Gies said. He was my best friend and the best dad and he loved this job. He was one of the hardest working men I know and his smile was contagious, Gries said.