Today, 9/11 Memorial staff placed a white rose in the name of Jonathan Lee Ielpi on the bronze parapets of the south pool in honor of his birthday.
A lifelong Great Neck, Long Island resident, Jonathan Ielpi lived with his wife, Yesenia, and their two young boys. He loved to hunt, fish, and was the assistant chief at the community fire department.
Ielpi was 29 years old when he responded to the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11 with New York City Fire Department Squad 288. He was a New York City Police officer before following in his father’s footsteps in the FDNY. On the morning of 9/11, he spoke to his father, Lee Ielpi, telling him he was heading to the World Trade Center. That was the last time the two spoke.
Lee Ielpi spent months searching through the debris at Ground Zero. In December 2001, his son’s remains were found and he carried Jonathan out of the debris pile. Lee Ielpi continued his work at the site for the next six months with eight other retired firefighters, known as “The Band of Dads,” who were also searching for their sons’ remains.
Lee Ielpi has devoted his life since 9/11 to making sure the memory of his son and all those who were killed are not forgotten. In 2005, he co-founded the 9/11 Tribute Center and is an active 9/11 Memorial Museum board member.
(Band of Dads, Sept. 3, 2002. Left to Right: Al Petrocelli, Dennis O'Berg, John Vigiano, Billy Butler, Jack Lynch, George Riley, Paul Geidel, Lee Ielpi. Photo by Curtis Quinn of Lamay.)
By Jenny Pachucki, Content Strategist, 9/11 Memorial