Born To Be A Hero
Courtesy of New York Post
Engeldrum wanted to be a firefighter from the time he uttered his
grieving mom, Lenora, recalled yesterday how her son had had an
obsession with the FDNY since childhood — often begging her
to chase firetrucks while riding in the back seat of the family
always knew he'd end up being a fireman. One of our earliest memories
of Chris is him wearing his fire hat and playing with his firetruck,"
she told The Post from her home in Las Cruces, N.M.
was an action kid — he just loved to play. I've always said
he should have been born in the 1800s and gone out West with the
cowboys and Indians."
a 39-year-old married father of two, was killed on Monday when terrorists
detonated a car bomb as he rode in convoy outside Baghdad.
Army National Guard sergeant — a 1991 Gulf War veteran known
to his pals as "Jungle Drum" — had put off his New
York firefighting duties to help his old Army pals with the fight
is the first of 103 city firefighters activated in Iraq to die in
was born in New York on Nov. 19, 1965, living for a short time at
the family home in Northport, L.I.
he was 9, the family moved to California after his father, Philip,
moved his magazine publishing business across the country.
attended Ventura HS, spending his teenage years fishing, surfing,
skateboarding, riding dirt bikes and cheering on the San Diego Chargers.
was a skinny little kid," Lenora said.
wasn't a great student but he was a very much liked by his friends
and teachers. But Chris was an action man — he just needed
firefighter wannabe was adored by his sisters, Leann and Kim, and
got his kicks out of endless hours of talk with his uncle Bruce
— a retired fire captain.
18, he left home and moved back to New York to work at the family
gas station in The Bronx.
after, while selling Christmas trees at the station, he bumped into
Sharon Donohue — and it was love at first sight.
fondly recalled the day her son called home to relay the news he
had met the woman he wanted to marry.
was crazy about her. He said: 'Mom, she reminds me of you.' She
was a wonderful wife and a wonderful mother."
they raised two sons, Sean, 18, and Royce, 16.
raised them so well. He was such a great father — they have
not given him a single day of trouble. They're both wonderful boys,"
said her son's life changed in 1986 when, at age 21, he joined the
Army. Four years later, he headed for Saudi Arabia with the 82nd
returned unscathed from the Gulf War to a job with the NYPD in 1997.
But two years later, the FDNY called to offer the gig he had wanted
more than any other.
he was finally accepted [into the FDNY] he was absolutely delighted
— and so were we," she said.
came the horror of 9/11, where Chris and his colleagues from Ladder
Co. 61 spent endless days digging through the rubble.
tragedy steeled him for a second tour of Iraq, his parents said,
should the call-up ever come.
May, Engeldrum found himself back on Iraqi soil and involved in
battles far worse than he remembered from his previous tour.
Chris was adamant there was a fight for his country and his pals
to be won.
the loss of their only son — who died on his own son's 16th
birthday — the Engeldrums say they bear no anger toward the
decision-makers in Washington who sent him to war.
son died doing what he wanted to do — doing what he felt the
country needed," Lenora said.
something good will come of this. That's the only way I can make
any sense out of it."
to Chris' Homepage