Lee A. Ielpi
Lee A, Ielpi is a native of Great Neck, New York, and served in the FDNY for over 25 years. Ielpi is the father of two girls and two boys, and he has nine grandchildren. Both of his sons became firefighters with the FDNY. In 1963, Ielpi became a volunteer with his local Great Neck Vigilant Fire Department, where he rose through the ranks to become chief of the department and where he continues to serve as an active member of the Vigilant Fire Department.
In 1968, Ielpi was drafted and served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He volunteered to be deployed under the reconnaissance unit with the second of the 28th Infantry, First Infantry Division. While serving for his country, Ielpi earned a Bronze Star for Valor and two ARCOM Medals for Valor in addition to being decorated with a Combat Infantryman's Badge and Air Medals. Ielpi's first child was born while he was serving in Vietnam in 1970. Ielpi joined the FDNY in September 1970.
As a probationary firefighter, he was trained during one of the busiest periods of firefighting in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Ielpi was selected to serve as a member of the elite Special Operations Command, FDNY Rescue Company 2 in 1977. Rescue companies of the FDNY serve to operate at all working fires within their borough; any type of rescue operation, hazardous materials, and scuba operation. These companies assist with all rescue equipment for any type of extrication. While serving in the FDNY, Ielpi was awarded 24 recognitions of exemplary service ranging from Class 3 Medals to unit citations from his rescue company. The awards included three of the prestigious Class 3 Rescue Medals awarded on separate occasions by New York City and the firefighters who witnessed the hazardous conditions under which the rescues were performed. Ielpi also received a Class B Ribbon of Honor for service beyond duty.
On September 11, 2001, Ielpi arrived at the World Trade Center within a half hour of the second collapse and assisted in organizing operations until midnight of that evening. Ielpi returned to Ground Zero daily to assist organization of the rescue operations. Upon the third week, the rescue operations were reclassified by the City of New York as a recovery operation. As is tradition within the FDNY, Ielpi worked hands-on, daily, for nine months to bring home all who were lost, including his son, Jonathan Ielpi, of FDNY Squad 288.