Francis Joseph Trombino

Francis Joseph Trombino

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  • Occupation:
    Brinks | Security Guard
    Biography:

    Francis Joseph Trombino knew danger, and he knew tragedy.

    In 1981, while driving a Brink's armored car, he had an arm almost blown off in a shootout with members of the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army during a robbery attempt at a mall in Rockland County, N.Y.

    It was the second holdup of his career with Brink's, but the first one that turned bloody. His partner and two local policemen were killed in the botched heist of $1.6 million.

    Twelve years later, while still employed by Brink's but no longer a driver, Mr. Trombino barely escaped the first bombing of the World Trade Center.

    On Sept. 11, 2001, however, Mr. Trombino was in a Brink's truck that was trapped in a parking garage under the World Trade Center when planes commandeered by terrorists slammed into the buildings. He never made it out.

    Known to everyone as "Joe," Mr. Trombino was 68 and had lived most of his life in Clifton. Before signing on with Brink's in the late 1960s, he'd been a truck driver.

    Though it forced him to change his job assignment, the infamous Brink's robbery did not measurably change Mr. Trombino's outlook, those who knew him noted.

    "He was a very strong guy and recovered pretty well," said Jack Walter, a friend from boyhood. "He never cried or moaned, even though he was patched with nuts and bolts and his fingers were bent the wrong way after that. His feeling was, 'This is part of life.'"

    According to Walter, Mr. Trombino came close to dying from a loss of blood in the bungled holdup. Though he recuperated well enough over the next two years to return to work, he was also left with an impaired left hand that resulted in his switch to guard and messenger duties.

    Mr. Trombino's wife of 42 years, Jean, said her husband had no problem adapting to his new duties, making deliveries around New York from a base in Brooklyn in a job that began at 5 a.m. each day.

    After a regular stop at the World Trade Center, Mr. Trombino would leave his armored truck and deliver millions of dollars in securities on foot to numerous stops around Wall Street, getting picked up several hours later.

    On the morning of the terrorist attack, Mr. Trombino stayed behind to guard the truck in the parking garage while three colleagues made a delivery to a bank on the 11th floor of the North Tower. Though separated in the chaos, the others fled with their lives.

    "They couldn't go down and he couldn't come up" was the way Mrs. Trombino characterized the dilemma that confronted her husband and his crew.

    "He was a devoted worker," added Walter. "He wasn't supposed to leave the truck, and it cost him his life."

    Walter said his friend placed several calls to a Brink's office that last morning, one expressing concern for the welfare of those upstairs and another to say the walls around him were starting to crumble and water was seeping into the garage.

    He was never heard from again, and Mrs. Trombino said she still doesn't know where her husband's body was discovered. Mr. Trombino's body and the armored car were recovered, but the body was not in the truck. "We've asked, but I guess we haven't gotten the right person yet," she added.

    He was planning to retire in another year, she said.

    Beside his family, Mr. Trombino took his greatest joy in keeping up with old friends, particularly those he grew up with in the Delawanna section of Clifton. "If you met Joe, you had to like him," Walter recalled. "In all the years I knew him, I never got angry at him once. That says a lot about a person."

    Mr. Trombino served with the Army during the Korean War and was a communicant at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Clifton.

    In addition to his wife, Mr. Trombino is survived by two daughters, Lisa of Clifton and Bovita Kirby of Verona; a brother, Anthony of Montvale; a sister, Antoinette Barcellona of Cedar Grove, and four grandchildren.

    Visitation will be 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Intelisano- Scarpa Funeral Home in Clifton. A Mass will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Paul's. Interment will follow in St. Nicholas Cemetery in Lodi.

    Profile by Guy Sterling published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

  • Guestbook

    Frank On this 10 year anniversary of the tragedy that unfolded in New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA. I want to sent a most heartfelt, "Thank you". Thank you for your courage, thank you for your bravery, thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your dedication, and thank you for giving me life. 4 weeks after the attacks, I returned to New York City from Los Angeles, to visit with friends and family and to pay my respects at ground zero in any way that I could. Even 4 weeks later, I could hardly find the strength to walk around lower Manhattan, which was covered in inches of ash, soot, debris, etc. I was amazed at the efforts of the various agencies tasked with the "clean-up," and had a first-hand look at the emotional effects that engulfed many during my stay. Months after the attacks, I was fortunate enough to work on the staff that produced the 2002 Academy Awards. As a part of the ceremony, we were given bracelets to wear, in memory of the events of that fateful day. I received a bracelet with the name Capt. Frank J. Callahan, FDNY Ladder 35. I proudly wore the bracelet that day and felt compelled to keep it on my wrist ever since. Returning from a night out on the town a few years later, I turned on the TV, and was drawn to a program on A&E biographies that focused on the 9/11 tragedy. The narrator had already been telling a story of a FDNY Captain and when he mentioned the name again, I looked down at my wrist, and realized that I was hearing the story of Captain Frank J Callahan. I stayed up watching the entire story and feeling a sense of pride, that even though I had never met you you were now not only a name on a bracelet but a human being with a story that deserved to be told and remembered. I often told people who asked about the bracelet, that I wore it so that I could take you everywhere I would go, and experience everything I experienced, so that your life continued in some way, through me. What I didn't realize was that subconsciously the sheer presence of your name on the bracelet on my wrist filled me with hope, inspiration, love, compassion, and selflessness. Frank, I still have your bracelet with me today, and after a few repairs, it's still with me. I no longer wear it, but instead keep it on my nightstand as a constant reminder. The copper has faded and become so dense, that I risk breaking it again beyond repair. What I have realized over the years though, is that I don't need the bracelet on my wrist anymore. I carry you in my heart each and every day that I am alive Frank. You still go where I go, you still experience what I experience. You were there on my wedding day in 2006, and there when my wife gave birth to our 2 beautiful twin boys in 2009, and you ll be in my heart forever. Never Forget, God Bless Craig Posted by Craig Stevens