FDNY Son Wears Dad Hat to Funeral: ‘It Means He’s Always With Me’

MANHATTAN (PIX11) – Noah Cruz, 12, wore his father’s white FDNY hat during his father’s funeral on Tuesday at St. Francis of Xavier Church in Manhattan.

FDNY Lt. Robert Cruz, 44, died suddenly last week after falling ill at home and being rushed to hospital. The cause of death has not yet been disclosed.

His son wanted New Yorkers to know that his father “was a wonderful person, and he always did his best to save people’s lives.”

Noah Cruz said he wore his dad’s hat, “because it means he’s always with me.”

Robert Cruz was a 16-year-old FDNY member who served for many years at Engine Company 301 in Queens, affectionately known as Hollis Hogs. After his promotion to lieutenant, Robert Cruz worked with Battalion 7. The firefighter was recently on desk duty after sustaining a leg injury.

He also left behind his new wife, Lauren, and 9-month-old baby girl, Lydia, as well as his parents and siblings.

Robert Cruz’s funeral was held at St. Francis of Xavier as he attended high school here on West 16and Street, playing for football and baseball teams.

It was a painful time for the fire department, which has lost at least six active members since Dec. 3.

Jesse Gerhard, 33, was on duty at his Far Rockaway fire station when he collapsed on the job and died Feb. 16 the day before Robert Cruz died. Gerhard had fought a two-alarm fire the day before he died.

Gerhard’s cause of death is still pending autopsy results from the medical examiner’s office. A wake for Gerhard was held in Islip, Long Island on Tuesday, and his funeral is scheduled for Wednesday.

Robert Cruz’s mother, Nadine, spoke to PIX11 News after the funeral mass.

“We have lost many brothers. I pray for these families,” she said.

She added that her son “loved his FDNY brothers.”

“There is such camaraderie,” she says.

Even though Robert Cruz didn’t technically receive a “service” funeral, the turnout for his service was huge.

Trucks representing Engine Company 301 and Battalion 7 lined Sixth Avenue. An FDNY ceremonial truck carried the firefighter’s casket. Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh attended the funeral with many chiefs.

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