January 11, 2002
Jerome Domínguez had gone diving off the coast of Long Island with some police pals who were also his friends outside the job. After exploring the chambers of a shipwrecked boat, they glided up slowly and started popping up, one after another, to take their places on their boat.
But they noticed one of them, another police officer, was missing. And, without much hesitation, Domínguez was the one to jump right back in the water.
Returning all the way to the bottom, Domínguez found his friend lying unconscious inside the dilapidated ship with insufficient oxygen left. Pulling him up, Domínguez swam toward the light of the surface, alternatively taking on and off his oxygen mask to share it with the unconscious man.
Risking his own life, Domínguez saved his pal's more than two years ago.
But it was not the first time, and it would not be the last, that the decorated New York City cop offered all he had for the sake of others. In fact, Domínguez did it regularly, whenever he encountered people in danger or on duty as a member of the department's elite emergency services unit.
Domínguez, a West Islip resident who grew up in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx, was at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and, according to reports from colleagues to his family, was making his way upward in the building when the north tower collapsed. He remains missing.
One of two sons of devout Catholic parents who spend much of their time trying to spread the faith, Domínguez, 37, had his own sense of mission.
"I once told him, 'Jerome, don't strain yourself so much'," recalled his mother, Gladys Domínguez of the Bronx. "And he said, 'Look, Mommy, you save souls and I will save bodies.'"
After graduating from Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx, Domínguez entered the police academy in the mid-'80s. Following his July 1985 graduation, he became a patrol officer for a local precinct in the Bronx. Two years later, Domínguez, also in the Air Force Reserve, joined the highway division.
During the following years, he became committed to his job of helping people on the roads. Even when off duty, Domínguez carried power-cutting and other tools in his vehicle to help stalled drivers or to extricate victims at accident scenes, his relatives said.
Once, while heading to Texas for Air Force training in 1999, Domínguez encountered an overturned school bus with several children inside. He quickly took charge and rescued more than a dozen children before the bus burst into flames. His feat earned him praise, and he appeared on a television news show and was mentioned in newspapers that day. The Air Force offered him a permanent job, but he preferred an offer he got from the NYPD to join the emergency unit.
"He enjoyed himself helping people in some way, morally or physically," said his father, Geronimo Domínguez, a physician who hosts a bible reading television program in Spanish. " ... He was very courageous."
Besides diving, Domínguez left time to cruise on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, sometimes along the Eastchester Bay coast near his parents' house, formerly a waterfront home and fishing retreat of New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.
In his last conversation with his father, some days before Sept. 11, Domínguez discussed the idea of a heavenly place for souls to rest in happiness after death. His parents find comfort in their strong belief that Domínguez is already there. "He loved helping others, and there isn't in the Bible or anywhere else a greater love than that, giving your life for others," his father said.
-- Víctor Manuel Ramos (Newsday)
Governor George Pataki joined officials from the New York Air National Guard and the New York City Police and Fire Departments, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police and the emergency services unit Saturday to unveil C-5A nose art honoring those members who snapped into action at the World Trade Center on September 11. The artwork, which includes an outline of the state, the insignias of the four agencies, the Twin Towers with an American flag superimposed, and the names of the crew chief - MSGT Brian Tator, and SSGTs Jerome Dominguez and Andrew Brunn, both members of the Stewart 105th Guard unit as well as employed as emergency services personnel in New York City, were killed as they attempted to rescue people in the buildings. Dominguez' fiancée, Jessica Ferenzy, was present at the ceremony. "Our country is more unified because of all the horror of those attacks of September 11th, the goal of the terrorists wasn't to destroy two buildings and kill thousands of people - horrible though that was," said Pataki. Because of the actions of "our ordinary citizens," the police, firefighters, National Guard troops and emergency services made in the early hours after the attack, "those terrorists failed and our country is more unified, more spirited, more committed to defending our freedom than ever in my lifetime." TriState News
By DEVLIN BARRETT
April 22, 2002 -- EXCLUSIVE
The last morning of his life, Officer Jerome Dominguez was laughing on the phone, promising to do "something special" to celebrate his Air Force buddy Frank Derlanga's 40th birthday on Sept. 12.
Just then, the ESU cop's radio crackled with a report of a fire at the World Trade Center - then word a plane had struck the building.
"Hey, cool job!" Dominguez told Derlanga, his close friend since they were kids growing up in the Throgs Neck section of The Bronx. "I gotta go!"
Dominguez, 37, rushed to the scene. Minutes later, Derlanga's military superiors beeped him to report for duty immediately. The two men - friends since elementary school - were immediately thrust onto the front lines of the new war.
After the towers collapsed on his friend, Derlanga, a staff sergeant, spent a week digging in the rubble, and was then shipped out for service in the war on terror.
Derlanga, 40, fought in "undisclosed locations" in Southwest Asia as part of the 105th Security Force Squadron - Dominguez's unit - carrying WTC ash and dozens of mass cards with Dominguez's picture.
"I was giving them to soldiers, young guys who weren't from New York and didn't really understand the meaning," said the airman. "We posted his picture in the compound to boost morale . . . We were in the middle of nowhere, and that little picture brought some purpose to it.
"Part of me felt like he was going to be vindicated, so he wouldn't die in vain."
After months of fighting for his country and his lifelong buddy, Derlanga has come home for Dominguez's funeral this Thursday at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
"One of the last things he said to me was that we would do something special together," said the war-weary veteran.
"Now, in hindsight, yeah, we did something special," Derlanga said softly.
"He inspired me to do so many things, and I wish I could just tell him how I felt about him," said Derlanga.
Dominguez, an Air Force skydiver once named "Base Airman of the Year" for saving a woman's life after a car accident, is still listed among the missing.
His family, parents Gladys and Dr. Jeronimo Dominguez, fiancée Jessica and brother Frank, will be honored at the service by an Air Force color guard and a huge contingent of cops.
"Jerome is in heaven, still saving people," said his mother.
For those left behind, like fellow ESU officer David Brink, it is harder to accept the loss.
"He was always teaching me things, from riding my Harley to scuba diving," said Brink. "It's a terrific loss, and I think about him constantly."
And Sgt. Derlanga says it is still hard to comprehend Jerome's death and the personal and national war.
"There have been a lot of hard days," he said.
"But the hardest day will be the funeral."
New York Post
By ALICE McQUILLAN
Daily News Police Bureau
On a rainy afternoon that would have been Police Officer Jerome Dominguez's 38th birthday, his father was smiling from the altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Dr. Geronimo Dominguez beamed yesterday because, like the priest and bishop who spoke before him, he was sure his son was now in a better place.
"When the buildings were coming down, he and a few friends were going up," said his father, pointing upward. "They went up so high that they ended up in heaven."
Holding a grandson in his arms, Dominguez coaxed smiles from hundreds of mourners who came to memorialize his son, a victim of the World Trade Center attacks.
Jerome Dominguez's body has not been recovered, and instead of a coffin, two empty jackets were hung next to framed color photos of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit officer.
One jacket was Dominguez's uniform from the elite police rescue unit he joined three years ago.
The other was from the Air Force Reserve, Dominguez's second job since 1996.
The law-and-order military man had a love of the open road — so the funeral procession began with a police Emergency Service Unit truck pulling Dominguez's riderless Harley-Davidson. Framed photos showed him smiling as he posed with his motorcycle.
"Wow, my son would have loved to be here," said his father, grinning as he began his eulogy.
"Thirty! Thirty motorcycles were escorting us," he said enthusiastically.
Another photo in a police booklet about Sept. 11 circulating yesterday shows Dominguez, a bandanna around his head, perched on his Harley behind his fiancee.
Mayor Bloomberg told mourners of seeing yet another snapshot of Dominguez — a daredevil pose on top of the Brooklyn Bridge during a training exercise.
Speaking of the cop's heroism on Sept. 11, the mayor said, "On behalf of everybody in New York, thank you for what your son did for us."
Dominguez was a highly decorated officer who once arrested an armed man fleeing the scene of a double murder. He also pulled several people from car wrecks when he was a highway cop.
In a single year, Dominguez received a half dozen commendations from the Air Force Reserve. Five rows of ribbons filled the front of his Air Force uniform.
'Lifted to Heaven'
"He brought a unique combination of skills, bravery and an acute sense of professionalism," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
Like his father, a physician who has a TV bible-reading program in Spanish, Kelly focused more on Dominguez's life than his death.
"We are here to celebrate life, the beautiful life of Jerome," said Bishop Josu Iriondo, one of 13 priests celebrating the memorial Mass.
Dominguez's best friend, Air National Guardsman Frank Berlanga, said, "His soul has been lifted up to heaven, but his spirit will live in each one of us."
Original Publicatioon Date: 4/26/02
New York Daily News
By DEVLIN BARRETT
April 26, 2002 -- An Air Force sergeant home from the war on terror said farewell yesterday to a lifelong friend who died a hero on Sept. 11.
Sgt. Frank Berlanga was one of thousands who packed St. Patrick's Cathedral yesterday for the funeral of Police Officer Jerome Dominguez.
Berlanga, who recently returned from the fighting overseas, broke down as he spoke to mourners.
"Jerome is now in God's keeping, but he will live in our hearts forever," Berlanga said.
Dominguez and Berlanga grew up together in the Throgs Neck section of The Bronx, and later joined the police force and the Air Force together.
A week after Dominguez, an Emergency Services Unit cop, was killed, Berlanga shipped out to avenge his death.
"If Jerome had made it out, I know he would be fighting with me against terrorism, " Berlanga said.
Next to the altar hung Dominguez's Air Force uniform and a photo of him smiling on a police motorcycle.
The airman and cop had already won numerous commendations for bravery and saving lives before he was killed.
"Heroes are rumors of angels," the Rev. Frank Peluso told the sea of sad faces. "Jerome was a hero long before Sept. 11."
Dominguez's father, Dr. Jeronimo Dominguez, hoisted the cop's 2-year-old nephew, Francis, in his arms as he spoke to the crowd.
"Jerome was going up to save people and the buildings came down, and he just kept going up all the way to heaven," the father smiled. "Thank you, my son."
New York Post
View/sign Jerome Dominguez's Guest Book provided by The New York Times.