NEW YORK — Nearly three thousand perished in Sept. 11 attacks. Among them, many of the heroes who selflessly ran toward the danger in an attempt to save lives. It wasn’t because of a job, but more of their own internal calling to protect, to serve, to save.
Port Authority Captain Kathy Mazza was one of them.
For her mother who survives her, the pain of missing her is as sharp today as it was on that day 20 years ago.
When PIX11’s Kirstin Cole sat down with her to talk about her daughter’s legacy, she asked 92-year-old Rose if she still talks to her long gone daughter.
“All the time. Her picture on my dresser. I say ‘goodnight’ every night. ‘Good morning’ every morning. You just never forget,” she said.
Rose Mazza is forever missing this piece of her heart. She takes some consolation knowing that Captain Kathy Mazza of the Port Authority Police died a hero, one of the more than 400 police and fire department members to perish that day.
Her voice breaks as she recounts the pain and horror from those early days. “Her body was crushed beyond recognition and that crushed me for 20 years. But I have to say, a lot of people are walking this earth because of her. And I have to be grateful for that. And I am.”
Captain Mazza was the first ever woman commander of the Port Authority Police Department. As soon as she heard of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, she rushed from her Jersey City office. She’s now credited with saving countless lives.
Her husband, Chris Delosh, recounted the tale of a life-saving decision credited to Mazza. “During the process of evacuating people, the bottom was getting congested,” he said. “She actually fired her gun, her weapon, and broke the mezzanine windows to let those people get out of the building. Those people are walking around having their lives now because of her.”
Mazza and another officer were last seen carrying a victim in a wheelchair down stairs when the towers collapsed. Her body was not recovered for four months.
“When they recovered her, I had to walk her coffin down the aisle,” Rose said, closing her eyes for a moment. “The same aisle I walked her down when she was married. It was so painful,” she said through tears.
Mazza was actually a 14-year nurse in the cardiac unit before meeting her husband, an NYPD officer, and deciding to switch careers. “She brought her nursing to the police department,” he said, explaining the blending of careers.
Mazza was truly a leader from the heart. She was the first to bring life saving AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) to her department. She Inspected ambulances manned by Port Authority personnel at the airport. Finding few medically necessary items, she sprung into action.
“She went through the ambulance and said, ‘This is horrible. There are no supplies!'” her husband said.
Her beloved home community in Farmingdale also honors her sacrifice in their own memorial, along with the 37 Port Authority officers who perished.
Back at her mother’s home, Rose took Cole to the her dining room table, covered in many of the remaining pieces of Kathy’s life as a leader.
“I was starting to write it after she died, but I was crying so much I had to give up,” the mother said while thumbing through a notebook.
Now, at 92, Mazza’s mother is writing her first book. Her daughter’s story.
The opening line? “Kathy had a date with destiny,” Rose read aloud from her neat script handwriting.
Despite all the pain, Mazza’s mother is convinced she’ll finish the work. She is determined others should be inspired by her daughter’s sacrifice.
“It’ll all be in there. What she did, what she accomplished. And she’ll always live on.”