Commentary | Sept. 10, 2021

The Long Blue Line: Vincent Danz—9/11 hero and FRC namesake

By William H. Thiesen, Historian Coast Guard Atlantic Area

Petty Officer 2nd Class Vincent G. Danz, a port security specialist, poses for a photo in his New York City Police Department uniform. Danz lost his life responding to the World Trade Center on 9/11. (NYPD photo)vDeployed Coast Guard rigid-hull inflatable boat with World Trade Center burning in background. (U.S. Coast Guard)As a member of the Emergency Service Unit, he and his fellow officers were the first to enter the doomed Trade Center. He called home to his wife and told her it was real bad up in the Towers. His last words were, “Please pray for these people and pray for me.” Pam Brady, sister of Petty Officer 2nd Class Vincent G. Danz


On the morning of September 11, 2001, 71 law enforcement officers from eight local, state, and federal agencies were killed when terrorist hijackers working for the al Qaeda terrorist network crashed passenger jets into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

After the impact of the first plane into the World Trade Center’s North Tower, New York City police officers put the safety of others before their own. Along with fire and EMS personnel, they rushed to the burning “Twin Towers” to aid victims and lead them to safety.

After impact of the second plane into the South Tower, the building unexpectedly collapsed due to the intensity of the fire caused by the jet crash. The North. Official New York Police Department photograph of Officer Vincent G. Danz. (NYPD photo) Tower collapsed a short time later. Seventy-one law enforcement officers, 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and over 2,800 civilians were killed at the World Trade Center. Due to the quick actions of New York’s first responders, it is believed that over 25,000 civilians were saved.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Vincent GListing for Vincent G. Danz at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower Michael Himes). “Vinny” Danz, a port security specialist, was killed while attempting to rescue victims trapped in the Towers. Danz was a Coast Guard reservist and a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, who joined the NYPD after serving in the United States Marine Corps. By September 2001, he had served as an officer for 14 years starting on bicycle patrol before joining NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit and assigned to ESU Truck Number 3.

Vincent Danz was the first New York City police officer to receive a memorial service. He was also posthumously awarded the New York City Police Department’s Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. On September 9, 2005, all of the public safety officers killed on 9/11, were posthumously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush. And, in June 2021, the Coast Guard dedicated Coast Guard Sector New York’s unaccompanied personnel housing facility in honor of Danz.

On November 12, 2019, the Coast Guard announced that two new “Sentinel”-Class Fast Response Cutters would be named after Danz and fellow Coast Guard reservist Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Palazzo, who lost his life on 9/11 as a member of the New York Fire Department. Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Karl Schultz, made the announcement at Battery Park flanked by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

Commandant Schultz began, “We are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to honor these brave men whose service and sacrifice spanned three great first-responder organizations.” Schultz continued:

A new Fast Response Cutter in New York Harbor during the FRC Danz naming ceremony in November 2019. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower)Their broad military and public service to both the nation and city of New York demonstrated their incredible dedication and character.Coast Guard commandant, Admiral Karl Schultz, and Angela Danz-Donahue, right, at the naming ceremony for FRC Vincent Danz and FRC Jeffrey Palazzo. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower) When the call came, they answered. We are certain that the men and women who serve aboard Coast Guard Cutter Vincent Danz and Coast Guard Cutter Jeffrey Palazzo in the future will proudly carry on their sense of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.

Danz is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. His older sister, Pam Brady, recalled,

I remember something Vincent said once about being in the reserves: I don’t know how good I would be at being the one in charge, but as for taking orders, I’m very good at that.” Vincent showed how good he was at taking orders without question and it cost him his life. When I think back to that day when the world changed forever, it is almost too much to bear and even to this day, hard to believe.