This year marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. To mark this anniversary on the Leadership Under Fire Optimizing Human Performance Podcast, we are honored to tell the valiant story of Captain Patrick J. “Paddy” Brown, compliments of the insight of his family, closest friends and fellow firefighters who were influenced by his leadership, service, and courage. He was one of 343 members of the FDNY who were killed during the attacks on U.S. soil.
Captain Brown’s story of service begins with his enlistment in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Brown was one of the tens of thousands of Americans who felt compelled to serve their Nation, but returned home feeling conflicted over the Vietnam experience, and one of a considerable number of FDNY members who had served in Vietnam prior to returning home to join the ranks of the FDNY during New York City’s tumultuous “War Years.” Over the course of his career, Capt Brown grew to be known for his enthusiasm and love for going to fires as well as the boldness and decisiveness that were central to his leadership style. Eventually, Brown made the decision to pursue sobriety with the same zest that he pursued all the activities in his life and it was both his fiercest and most triumphant battle.
Following 9/11, Mayor Giuliani called Captain Brown “a legend in the life of the Fire Department” during a mass honoring him at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He was one of the best-known, decorated members of the department and served as a role model for many young firefighters. It has been said that men wanted to work for him because he lived his life so well.