The friends, family, and colleagues of Brooklyn firefighter William Moon gathered in Bay Shore on Thursday to mourn his loss.
Moon, a 21-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, was gravely injured while preparing for a practice drill at FDNY Rescue 2 in Brownsville on Dec. 12. Days later, officials announced that Moon would not survive his injuries — and would be donating his organs.
“Last week after his accident, he gave his lungs to a retired firefighter and a 9/11 first responder Terrance Jordan,” said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh at his funeral service. “Terrence nearly gave his life to save others on 9/11, and his response that day left him tethered to an oxygen tank. Billy’s lungs have literally breathed life into Terrance Jordan.”
Inside St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church, near Moon’s Long Island home, as he was remembered for his heroism, the pride he had for his children, and the love between him and his wife, Moon’s friends often bit their tongues as they told stories about his cheeky sense of humor.
“Billy always had a smile, an infectious laugh, and loved to play jokes,” said Lt. James Keane. “He also had many names … my personal favorite was ‘Pita.’ Not based on the bread, but an acronym for P-I-T-A, which stands for ‘Pain in the….'” Keane stopped himself. “Forgive me, Father.”
Moon joined Ladder Company 133 in Queens in 2002, where he worked until earlier this year – when he was moved to Rescue Company 2. He also served with the Islip Volunteer Fire Department.
“Billy was truly born a firefighter,” Keane said. “He spent 20 years in Ladder 133, and a lifetime trying to get into Rescue 2. As an ultra-competitive [person,] Billy worked hard to hone his firefighting skills and master his craft.”
Earlier this year, Moon transferred to Rescue 2 in Brownsville — a specialized firehouse with a company trained to handle large, severe fires and other emergencies. He had long dreamed of working there, and he was a perfect fit, said Captain Liam Flaherty. During his trial period, Moon was dispatched to the scene of a horrific house fire in Canarsie that killed a fellow firefighter Timothy Klein.
His cool head and hard work that day earned him a place in Rescue 2, Flaherty said.
“You guys are telling me that Rescue 2 was Billy’s dream,” the captain said. “And I’ll add to that, I’ll say that Billy Moon was our dream. He was a dream to have on our rig, even for a short time, and he made us all better.”
Nearly all of the speakers talked about Moon’s dedication to his children, Brianne and Colin — he bragged about the goals they scored in sports games and brought them down to the firehouse for frequent visits.
He and his wife, Kristina, were friends for years before they finally realized there was something more between them, Kristina said at the service.
“Billy said ‘I love you’ first, long before we had a relationship,” Kristina said. “He always knew, even before me, that there was an ‘us.'”
Kristina read a statement written by Brianne, who said her dad always ran into someone he knew — no matter where they were.
“He always said, ‘Common sense, 100%,’ and ‘Try,'” Brianne wrote. “If you know my dad well, this will make sense: if you were driving down Webster, he’d be like ‘A bad fire right there,’ and a couple of blocks over ‘A bad car accident,’ and ‘Did I ever tell you the house next door went up in flames?’ We will miss you, sometimes-annoying William Moon. We love you.”
Brianne had Moon “wrapped around his little finger from Day 1,'” Kristina said, and he celebrated when they found out Colin was a boy – he had so much to teach their son.
“So, I have some things I think I should say,” Colin said. “One thing is he taught me everything I know about sports, and if it were not for him, I wouldn’t be as good as I am at sports. He inspired me to be a fireman — well, want to be a fireman. He made me want to join juniors — I might be the new nozzleman, which he was really proud of.”
Commissioner Kavanagh said Moon understood that by being part of the FDNY, he was part of something larger than himself — and that if anything ever happened to him, dozens of people would step up to support his family in his absence.
“This is why he was so dedicated to ensuring he could give back even after he was gone through organ donation,” she said. “So he could bring joy to other families even as his own lost so much.”
Moon would demand to see his colleagues licenses to ensure they had signed up to be a donor. If they hadn’t, he would insist they signed up immediately.
“In losing him, no matter how hard it is, Billy is still teaching us how to show up for others,” Kavanagh said. “Billy quite literally lives on in his lungs that are allowing someone to breathe right now. He lives on because he chose always to take his promise to others one step further.”