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Dedicated to a life of service to his city and to his country, Throggs Neck resident and Bronx firefighter Christian Engeldrum was killed while serving in the Army in Iraq on Monday, November 29.

A well-liked cop turned firefighter who served at two local firehouses—first on Bruckner Boulevard and then in Co-op City—the 39-year-old father of two was a member of the responding rescue teams following the 9-11 terrorists attacks and helped raise the first American flag from the rubble at Ground Zero.

A sergeant with the 105th Infantry, Engeldrum was an active member of the U.S. Army from 1986 to 1991, and fought in Operation Desert Storm for which he received numerous commendations for his service. He then served in the National Guard, and re-upped for active duty, returning to Iraq this past September.

The Edgewater Park resident was reportedly killed during a roadside bombing en route to Baghdad. During the ambush, 16 U.S. soldiers were injured, including another city firefighter, Daniel Swift of Manhattan’s Ladder 43, and two other soldiers were killed.

Engeldrum’s immediate and extended family–well-known throughout Throggs Neck and the Bronx from their ownership of a gas station and the community activism of Christian’s uncle, Donald–were devastated by the news of his death.

Engeldrum was the first New York City municipal employee killed in the ongoing war in Iraq, and the second Bronx resident to lose his life in the conflict.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg mourned Engeldrum’s passing. "Christian Engeldrum spent his life protecting the people of this city and protecting democracy," Bloomberg said. "As a firefighter, a police officer, and a decorated member of our military, there was no risk he wasn’t willing to take for his fellow New Yorkers and his fellow Americans. Christian honored us with his life and commitment to public service. I join all New Yorkers in mourning his loss and pray that his family finds comfort in the innumerable ways he touched so many lives."

Before joining the FDNY in 1999, Engeldrum served as a police officer in the borough’s 47th Precinct. He then worked at Engine 89/Ladder 50 in Throggs Neck and most recently at Engine 66/Ladder 61 in Co-op City. He also had served at Engine Company 58 in Manhattan.

This week, his FDNY colleagues remembered him as a brave firefighter, a great friend and a dedicated family man.

Lt. Brian Horn said Engeldrum was a patriot who could not be talked out of volunteering to fight overseas again. "He loved his country and all that it stands for," Horn said. "He was a lifetime soldier, and it didn’t make a difference to him that he had already served in a war."

Many of his FDNY compatriots were on hand at the firehouse of Engine 66/Ladder 61 on Tuesday to hang a banner in his memory. Engeldrum’s photo and some candles were placed in front of an American flag signed by U.S troops serving in Iraq that had been sent to Engeldrum’s firehouse.

Inside the firehouse, his comrades set up a small memorial to Engeldrum, hanging his helmet and firecoat high on the back wall of the Asch Loop firehouse. Although many firefighters choked back tears, two of his closest friends, firefighters Michael Schiraldi and Mark Klinger, agreed that Engeldrum would have considered himself lucky to work at something he loved for so long. "He gave 200% to everything he did and lived life to the fullest," Schiraldi said. "That’s why he was over there."

Klinger said that the fire department is built around brave, dedicated men like Engeldrum. "He was the kind of guy you wanted to work with. I always felt safer when he was around," Klinger said of his longtime friend, who he last worked an FDNY tour with this past June. "He was the center of attention. He was everything in this house."

Members of the firehouse said that they were shocked by the news and looked to take care of Engeldrum’s wife Sharon and two sons, aged 16 and 18, during this terrible time.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta extended his condolences to Engeldrum’s family. "His commitment to serving his country sets the example for all of us. He will be greatly missed by this department and by all who had the honor of knowing him."

Scoppetta noted that Engeldrum received a unit citation as a result of his company’s successful rescue of two civilians from a fire.

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