Sean P. Tallon, FDNY, Class of 1992
Sean Tallon was first-generation American, born in the Bronx on September 27, 1974 to devout immigrants Patrick Tallon, a mechanic, and EileenDennehy Tallon, a homemaker and a caretaker for the elderly. When Sean was very young, the family returned to Ireland fora year, moving to Yonkers when they returned to the States. He attended St. Barnabas Grammar School in the Woodlawn section and continued at Fordham Prep, graduating in 1992. Sean played football, usually defensive back, all four years during his Shea Hall days.
In the words of close friend and classmate, Jesse Quinlan: “He was a hard-hitting player who always put his best foot forward on the field. What he lacked in natural ability he made up for with hard work.” Tallon and Quinlan were classmates at St. Barnabas and Fordham Prep and later bussed tables together at Cornyn Coach ‘n Four on the Yonkers-Riverdale border.
Strapping, redheaded and driven, Sean knew from an early age that he wanted to serve the community as a firefighter or policeman, and so he worked hard and studied hard, staying true to his goal. “No foolish mistake was going to ruin his dream,” said Jesse Quinlan.
After graduating from the Prep, Sean went to Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where he majored in criminology. From Iona, he joined the US Marine Corps Reserves. “His inner toughness was now solidified by outer toughness,” added Quinlan. “Sean was a proud Marine, and he made some lifelong friends on Parris Island.”
Though tough as they come, “he had a fierce sensitivity to him,” noted Rosaleen Tallon DaRos of her beloved little brother. He was prayerful, compassionate and shared his love of Irish music with his family and closest friends. At his Marine memorial, his squad leader said that perhaps the thing he would miss the most about Sean was watching him sit and listen to Irish music for hours. Tallon was a traditional Irish musician as well, an accomplished player of the button accordion, practicing for an hour or two each evening. “His sister Rosie was a great Irish step dancer,” says Quinlan. “I think Sean step danced too, but that was something he would never tell the guys.”
Tallon returned to civilian life as a paramedic — yet another way of living out his call to be a man for others and a step towards his dream of being a firefighter. Quinlan recalled that one Sunday a few years later, outside of St. Barnabas after Mass, Sean broke the news that he been invited to join the ranks of New York’s Bravest. “We talked; he was so proud that he finally made it. His career goal was achieved. I was happy for him, and I remember joking with him that he lost some hair along the way so he had better find a wife soon.”
As a member of Ladder Company 10, or Ten House, which was right across the street from the World Trade Center, Tallon was among the first New York firefighters to respond as the September 11th tragedy unfolded, entering Tower One. With the elevators no longer working, Sean and his comrades tackled the B stairway on foot and reached the 31st floor. He did not make it out when the order to evacuate was given.
At the time of his death, Sean had just a few weeks to go as a “probie,” or probationary firefighter. He was 26 years old.
Sean Patrick Tallon left behind his parents, Patrick and Eileen, as well as his sister, Rosaleen. Rosaleen would become a tireless and outspoken advocate for the preservation of the dignity of the memory of those lost on that terrible day. Among her children, a son: Sean.
At his memorial service, Sean’s sister and musician Marian Griffin performed a song she wrote with her husband in honor of the great sacrifice of Tallon and the men of Ladder Company 10.
Up the stairs boys running to the top
Without a thought to slow or stop
Up the stairs boys on 9/11
And they kept on going right through the gates of heaven.
There with the men of Ten House
Was Sean Tallon running fast.
He may not have been the leader
But he surely wasn’t last.
With a love of God and country
A man so full of faith,
Could never have imagined
He would see such acts of hate.
And now as we remember
Hard Charger and the others
And shed a mournful tear
For all his fallen brothers.
Although we couldn’t know them all
We knew them well enough
To know what they were made of
And that was hero stuff.