The funeral for an 18-year veteran of the New York State Police was held in Plattsburgh Monday. 47-year-old Trooper Brian Falb died of brain cancer related to his service as a first responder following the 9/11 attack at the World Trade Center.
More than 1,000 law enforcement officials from across New York and the country stood in formation outside St. Peter’s Catholic Church as the casket carrying the remains of Trooper Brian Falb arrived for the Catholic funeral ceremony. Representatives from as far away as South Carolina, New Jersey, Vermont, Texas, California and elsewhere were so many that officials set up overflow viewing facilities next to the church.
NYS Police Superintendent George Beach: “Trooper Brian S. Falb, Shield 1124, End of watch March 13, 2017. Thank you for your service to the people of New York and thank you for a job well done. May God bless you and may you rest in peace.”
Eric Dwyer remembered working with his partner and friend, including the Dannemora manhunt, cocaine arrests and day to day anecdotes. “I was lucky enough to clean out his locker. As soon as I opened his locker door, the locker door was covered with pictures of his family. At that time I had to take a moment and I texted Mike Neaten and I sent him a picture of the locker and I told him I’m having a rough time right now. Mike Neaten told me that was Brian in a nutshell. And it was.”
NYS Police Superintendent George Beach: “He was well respected. He was dedicated. His coworkers looked up to him as a leader, loved him. And he served multiple tours at the World Trade Center disaster. He contracted a related illness from that experience, that work, down there. We’re going to miss him a lot.”
After the service inside the church, a brief ceremony was held outside where Falb’s family was presented with the flag that had rested on his casket and two helicopters flew over the scene to honor the fallen trooper.
“Detail present arms.”
Church bells tolled as mourners left the church and some remained to remember their friend and co-worker. Damian Battinelli was in the Air National Guard and was a fellow 9/11 first responder. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer at age 34 as a result of breathing in toxic air at Ground Zero. Now symptom-free after surgery, he recalls that even in the midst of fighting brain cancer Falb helped him learn about the World Trade Center Health program. “I kind of thought I was the only one in this area that had come down with cancer from 9/11. So it kind of made me feel really alone. So I felt really alone until Brian. And they helped me tremendously. I mean even with Brian going through what he was going through he’s like these are the people you need to call! You know Brian just cared so much about so many people.”
Troop B Commander Major John Tibbitts: “It’s tough when we lose a member anytime. Other agencies are going through it at a greater rate than we are with the World Trade Center related illnesses. And while we’re here today to remember Brian don’t forget all the other cops and emergency services workers that are going through the same thing.”
Falb is the fourth New York State Trooper to die from an illness related to work at Ground Zero. There are other NYS police officers with a variety of illnesses attributed to World Trade Center response.