Fire Lieutenant Kevin C. Dowdell died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He was one of 18 Ancient Order of Hibernians members from New York and New Jersey who lost their lives that tragic day.
A devoted husband and father of two sons, Lt. Dowdell lived in Breezy Point and served at FDNY Rescue 4 in Woodside, considered one of the city’s most elite firehouses.
He took great pride in his job and was not considering retiring even though he had 20 years on the job and was eligible. He received many citations during his career with the New York City Fire Department. He received a medal for his rescue of a woman from a Queens diner after it had exploded and collapsed. He also went to Oklahoma City as a member of FEMA to help with the recovery of victims after the Murrah Federal Building was bombed in 1995.
As the 17th anniversary of his death approached, male relatives and friends started a new Ancient Order of Hibernians division in his name in Breezy Point. The Irish Catholic fraternal organization seeks to promote friendship, unity and Christian charity among its members and the wider community.
Established in February of this year, the Lieutenant Kevin C. Dowdell A.O.H. Division 4, already has over 50 members and continues to grow. Among the members are Lt. Dowdell’s sons James and Patrick. Almost all of the men belong to Blessed Trinity parish in Breezy. The group formed not only as a way to honor Lt. Dowdell and all of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but also to continue the values of community and faith which the fallen firefighter held so dearly.
“He always told us about the importance of community and he loved Breezy. He loved these people and always wanted to help and do as much as he could,” said James Dowdell, who was only 17 when his father perished.
He decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and now serves as a firefighter in FDNY Rescue 2 Company in Crown Heights. He is proud to carry on the values his father shared with him.
“He was a great man and father and we hope to continue to share his beliefs and values within the community. He meant the world to us and we will never forget him,” James said.
For Patrick Dowdell, losing his father at age 18 was a defining moment in his life. It gave him the courage to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and serve his country in Afghanistan.
Patrick said the Breezy community was quick to respond when the new division was being formed in his father’s name because ‘He was loved here,” he said.
“He loved these people and he loved this town,” he said. “He did everything he could to help people and he meant the world to us. …
“So many years after the tragic events and still people come out to honor our father who was our hero. The division will be able to share the values of our father and continue the bonds of community as we work together.”
John Manning is the New York State secretary for the Ancient Order of Hibernians and serves as president of the newly formed division.
“Lieutenant Kevin Dowdell was a great man that meant so much to so many people,” he said. “That day [Sept. 11], so many brave heroes were lost and they will never be forgotten. To be able to honor Kevin shows the impact he had on this town.”
Manning said that the division started with 20 members and in just a few months, membership has more than doubled and continues to grow.
“These people want to be involved and want to continue to build a better community. We have come together to honor a hero and to continue sharing the values of friendship, community, and Christian values,” Manning said.
Visit their site at https://aohbpny.org