Ralph Gismondi knew he wasn't going to make it.
The retired FDNY captain, who spent weeks on the smoldering wreckage of Ground Zero, only to find a second career as a JetBlue flight attendant, told his wife Ann in late March that he could no longer fight off the deadly coronavirus that had begun to ravage his 68-year-old body.
Gismondi couldn't breathe without an oxygen mask and seemed to be in constant pain. And while Ann tried to encourage her husband of nearly 50 years to keep fighting, the end was near. Gismondi was placed on a ventilator March 20 and died April 5. "I didn’t think he was going to die but he did. Ralph knew," Ann Gismondi said. "Here he was: a 9/11 survivor and this is what took him out."
As the 19th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks approaches, Ralph Gismondi joins a growing list of 9/11 first responders who have faced a dual set of painful challenges — each originating from that clear Tuesday morning in lower Manhattan 19 years ago.