Cop Killed in Attack is Finally Laid to Rest
By TAMER EL-GHOBASHY
s they had done on Nov. 7, hundreds of police officers and friends of NYPD Officer Robert Fazio Jr. turned out yesterday to remember the dedicated cop who raced to save lives on Sept. 11.
But unlike the memorial service two months ago, yesterday's Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral on Long Island was a funeral.
Nearly four months after he died in the collapse of the twin towers, Fazio's remains were recovered Saturday east of where Tower 1 once stood.
Hundreds of New York's Finest stood erect in a steady downpour and watched as Fazio's coffin was carried by six officers into the cavernous cathedral in Rockville Centre.
"This may sound controversial, but you were given a little gift," NYPD chaplain Msgr. David Cassato told the mourners. "The mortal remains of Robert. We will never forget him."
Fazio, a 13-year NYPD veteran, was one of two members of the 13th Precinct killed in the attacks. The other was his partner, Officer Moira Smith.
On the morning of the attacks, Fazio and Smith jumped into a police van and drove downtown from the precinct's stationhouse on Manhattan's East Side. The van was later found at Ground Zero with their hats still inside.
"He left the 13th Precinct to go and give his life," Cassato said to a gathering that included officers of every rank and command. "There is no greater love than this, to lay down your life."
Fazio, 41, who grew up in South Hempstead, L.I., was known for giving a helping hand to family and friends and enjoyed working on motorcycles, boats and cars.
To fellow officers, Fazio was an example; he often embraced rookie cops and took the time to teach them the ropes.
Fazio a bachelor is survived by his parents, Robert Sr. and Felicia, and sister Carol.
To the grieving family, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly offered words of comfort.
"Your son was put on this Earth to save lives, even if it meant risking his own," said Kelly, who also praised Fazio's dedication to the force. "He had an outstanding record," the commissioner said. "He was a peacemaker who was called home too soon. He served the people of New York and America. We can never replace him."
Members of the 13th Precinct carried Fazio's coffin out of the cathedral.
In silence broken only by the rumbling of a Long Island Rail Road train some 100 feet away, four mounted unit officers led the solemn procession east on Quealy Place for Fazio's burial.