Died September 11, 2001
World Trade Center
Assigned to FDNY Rescue Company 4, Queens, New York
LT Kevin Dowdell was killed September 11, 2001 during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, New York, while trying to save the lives of innocent civilians.
According to his wife, RoseEllen, Kevin had worked various construction jobs before he got the call to join the New York City Police Department in 1980. A year later, Kevin got a call from the New York Fire Department. He simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity and decided to leave the NYPD. RoseEllen and her husband were married for 21 years and have 2 sons. As a testament to his courage, in 1994, LT Dowdell, CPT Terry Hatton, and FF Bill Lake rushed to the scene of a gas explosion at a diner in Queens, NY, to rescue a trapped waitress. The three crawled through shifting slabs of concrete, able to crush them in an instance. CPT Hatton proclaimed afterward, “It hits us before it hits her.” The waitress escaped with just a few scrapes. Seven years later, however; all three of her rescuers would be killed at the World Trade Center.
LT Dowdell and other 9/11 first responders are remembered annually by the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums; they use their music to momentarily alleviate the grief. One particular drummer in the band is James Dowdell, LT Dowdell’s son. He joined the FDNY after his father’s death and now performs just a few feet from where his father valiantly lost his life. Though LT Dowdell’s remains were never discovered, his living spirit is unmistakable in the son who spoke of fighting fires with Ladder 174 in Brooklyn. “It is well,” James Dowdell said with a grin. If the rest of us demonstrated such dedication and selflessness then we could all rightly join young James Dowdell in smilingly saying, “It is well.” James’s brother, Army CPT Patrick Dowdell, who was a graduate of the first West Point class after 9/11, returned home from Afghanistan in 2011. Before his deployment in 2008, Patrick said, “It’s really for families like mine that were affected by terrorists; that’s why we’re going. I feel indebted to those guys for what they’re doing for my family.” He departed for Afghanistan with the living spirit of his murdered father; “I know what I gotta do,” Patrick said upon his deployment.
LT Kevin Dowdell was 46 years old from Breezy Point, New York.
Original portrait was presented March 24, 2014 to his wife and sons during a special event held at Chelsea Piers, NYC, New York, and hosted by the Lead the Way Foundation