Detectives' Endowment Association, Inc. — Paul DiGiacomo, President

The DEA Honor Roll

Official Line of Duty Deaths

Joseph V. Vigiano

Rank: Detective, Second Grade

Shield Number: 4511

Command: Emergency Services Unit Truck #2

Date of Death: 09/11/2001

Cause of Death: World Trade Center Attack

Det. Second Grade Joseph V. Vigiano was killed during the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The 34-year old husband and father was a 14-year veteran of the force and an “E-Man,” a member of the elite Emergency Services Unit and assigned to Truck #2 in Manhattan. Vigiano was amongst the first to rush into the World Trade Center complex to do what he had done many times before — put himself in the midst of unthinkable conditions to protect and preserve life. His wife, Kathy Vigiano, who was also a Police Officer, told The New York Post, “Joe wouldn’t have left until the last person was out” of the buildings. And, she was right. He did not leave. Neither did his brother, Firefighter John Vigiano.

Det. Vigiano was appointed to the force at age 20 on April 28, 1987, and promoted to Detective January 31, 1992. He had, during his years with the NYPD, survived multiple shootings and legendary rescue attempts, which earned him, on April 12, 2001, second grade. Even before 9/11, Officers were awed by Vigiano’s heroics and bravery, which ran in his family. His father was Fire Captain John Vigiano, one of the most decorated firemen in New York City’s history.

In 1990, then-P.O.Vigiano was awarded the American Legion Police Post No. 460 Medal for Valor for an incident that occurred when he was a Police Officer in the 75th Precinct. Vigiano and a partner were on patrol in the wee hours of July 3, 1989, when they responded to a call of shots fired. A perp opened fire on both of them with a 9mm pistol. Both Vigiano and his partner were struck, but Vigiano squeezed off shots that wounded, and later killed, the assailant.

As a Detective, Vigiano was involved in another gun battle in the confines of the 75. He recovered from the bullet wounds and the perp was later arrested. Vigiano eventually received an NYPD Combat Cross for the case. In 1995, Vigiano received more Department accolades for his search and recovery efforts during the TWA Flight 800 disaster. Another daring rescue involving a scaffolding collapse on West 108th Street in Manhattan in August of 1999 earned Vigiano another award from the Mayor. He also won recognition from the Centurion Foundation and the New York Shields.

In 2001, the Columbia Association awarded Det. Vigiano its Lt. Mario Biaggi Award of Valor for an April 27, 2000 water rescue in the Central Park Reservoir off of West 89th Street. Vigiano was also named the 2001 Medal of Valor winner from the New York Lifesaving Benevolent Association.

Every year, the Vigiano family creates a ski trip to Stowe Mountain, Vermont in Joe’s memory. In one of the many other gestures performed in Det. Vigiano’s memory, NYPD Lt. Frank Dwyer presented a replica of Vigiano’s Detective shield to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain for the United Kingdom’s allied support in the international war against terrorism that followed the WTC disaster. In 2003, a 34-minute documentary short subject called “Twin Towers” about the Vigiano brothers won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short at the Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles.  In 2008, the Medford Fire Department dedicated a 9/11 Memorial Garden at the corner of Oregon and Peconic Avenues in Medford, New York in memory of the Vigiano Brothers. At the location of the Brooklyn Memorial Wall of Remembrance at Key Span Park there is a statue of an Officer representing the police victims of the WTC attacks and the artist used the image of Det. Joseph Vigiano as the inspiration for the sculpture. Lake Avenue in Deer Park, New York is named Det. Joseph Vigiano Avenue.

Click on the pdf file link below to read the article in The Gold Shield magazine, December 2001 issue.

Vigiano and Richards The Gold Shield 2001

Click on the pdf file link below to read “Those Boys Were His Twin Towers,” a September 18, 2001 article in New York Newsday.

Joseph Vigiano Newsday 2001







Click here to view the biography of Det. Joseph Vigiano that appeared in the December 2001 edition of the DEA’s The Gold Shield magazine.

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