Scout builds memorial to officer killed on 9/11

Scout builds memorial to officer killed on 9/11

Kyle DiLeo said he wanted to do something meaningful for his Citizen of the Community Boy Scout merit badge — something that would have a lasting impact in Port Washington.

He and his grandfather, Joe Fico, brainstormed ideas and finally decided to honor a police officer who died in the 9/11 terror attacks and deserved a memorial, he said.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Antonio Jose Rodrigues, a Port Authority police officer and Port Washington resident, volunteered to retrieve oxygen tanks from the south tower of the World Trade Center. The tower collapsed moments later and killed Rodrigues. He was 35 years old.

“I always thought that everyone should be honored,” DiLeo said. “He deserved it.”

On Sunday, a monument with a plaque was unveiled in Manorhaven, honoring Rodrigues and other Port Washington residents who died in the 9/11 attacks. It lists eight emergency-service members and four people who attended Paul D. Schreiber High School.

The monument is located next to Manorhaven Village Hall at 33 Manorhaven Blvd. 

Rodrigues joined the New York City Police Department in 1996 and transferred to the Port Authority police in 2000. In 1989, he married his wife, Christina, and they moved to Manorhaven because, according to DiLeo, they wanted to live near the water. Sept. 11 was Rodrigues’ first day back from vacation with his family. 

Fico, a retired Port Washington police officer and volunteer firefighter, said he and Kyle worked closely planning the construction of the monument, and that they wanted to do it right.

“It took much planning and dedication,” Fico said. “We didn’t want to rush it, and we needed some guidance from other monuments.”

Fico and DiLeo traveled around New York and examined  9/11 memorials, hoping to get an idea of the best way to honor Rodrigues, Fico said. He added that they went to Coney Island to see a wall of honor and Mineola to see a memorial plaque and structure.

Finally, DiLeo decided on the structure and went  to local businesses to raise money for the memorial’s construction. He raised $5,000, Fico said, and worked with local businesses and his father, Ken, to build a stone structure and a plaque that sits on the front of it.

Fico said that as word about the project got around, more people got involved. At the ceremony on Sunday, Port Authority Police Sgt. Craig Hoo got a nine-piece bagpipe group to perform, a three-member flag crew and someone to sing the National Anthem. Fifty members of the Port Washington Fire Department attended the ceremony.

Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, attended the ceremony and gave a speech honoring Rodrigues. Fico said Foye got a band to play “Taps” and “Amazing Grace,” too.

“It got so much bigger than I originally expected,” DiLeo said. “Even more people were supposed to be there, but the rain kept some people home. It was a good turnout though.”  

Overall, Fico said, around 150 people attended the ceremony, and  many of them were brought to tears during the speeches and performances.

DiLeo spoke, too, outlining Rodrigues’ career and life and honoring him as hero, Fico said.

“It was such a lovely speech Kyle gave,” Fico said. “It brought me to tears.”

DiLeo also presented Christina with a bouquet of flowers, and Rodrigues’ children placed flowers near the memorial.  

With the completion of the memorial, DiLeo, an honor student at Schreiber High School, became one step closer to achieving all 21 merit badges required to become an Eagle Scout. He started out as a Cub Scout in kindergarten and became a Boy Scout when he was 11.

“It took a little time and work, but it was a nice way to honor a police officer,” Fico said.

By Stephen Romano

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here