June 12, 2005

Children of the Fallen

A day late, but with a story like this, better late than never.


The wife of a city firefighter-turned-soldier who was killed last year in Iraq gave birth to the fallen hero's daughter this week — and named the girl in honor of a father she will never know.

"We named her Kristian, after her dad," said an exhausted, but ebullient Sharon Engeldrum, who brought the healthy newborn back to the family's Bronx home in Edgewater Park from Einstein Hospital yesterday. Kristian is the daughter of Christian Engeldrum, a 9/11 hero firefighter and member of Bronx Ladder Co. 61.

A National Guard veteran before 9/11, the firefighter re-enlisted after sifting through the rubble of Ground Zero in the post-attack recovery effort.

He became a member of the fabled Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment, and was killed in November when a roadside bomb exploded under his Humvee while battling insurgents. He was 39.

The blast occurred about 6 p.m. Iraq time when a small convoy was patrolling a mostly rural area near the soldiers' camp in Tajl, 20 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Army Spc. Wilfredo Urbina, 29, a volunteer firefighter from Baldwin, L.I., was also killed in the blast — which flipped the Humvee in the air.

The loss made Kristian's birth this week a bittersweet joy for Sharon.

"I'm happy she's here," she told The Post yesterday. "I'm relieved she's all right. I'm sad that her father can't see her, but I know he's looking down on her."

Kristian was born two weeks early and weighs in at 5-pounds, 10-ounces, said her paternal grandmother, Lenora Engeldrum.

Kristian has two brothers, Sean and Royce, age 18 and 16.

She was born Monday, the 61st anniversary of D-Day — a date her grandmother thinks is fitting for the daughter of a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice. [I'll second that. --ed.]

"She was born on D-Day," she said. "We think that's kind of apropos."

Lenora Engeldrum agreed that Kristian's birth would have been more joyous had her father been there to see it.

"It's very bittersweet," she said. "But we're excited and happy."

She also said that her daughter-in-law is doing well after the early delivery — which she was able to give through natural birth.

"She's feeling better now," Lenora said.

In January, Sharon Engeldrum, 39, attended President Bush's State of the Union Address as a guest of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At the time, she said all of the honors and attention — such as a memorial service attended by Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg — filled her with "a lot of pride [and] sadness. It's difficult."

The blast that killed Christian Engeldrum and Urbina also left firefighter Dan Swift, 24, of Ladder Co. 43 in East Harlem, suffering shrapnel wounds.

A most fitting quote from Psalm 68:5 (NIV):
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Posted by Kyer at June 12, 2005 12:15 AM

I want to thank all of the kindness show by people to my family.

The death of my son has been hard to take, but he was doing what he wanted and did it so his boys would not have to fight in the streets of NY against a mindless enemy.

We have a great Air Force, why not use it and save the troops on the ground for moping up operations?

Can any war be "politiclly correct?"

Why don't the people of Iraq rise up and stop they "friends from killing."

Isn't there more to life than getting 72 Virgins when you die? Senseless fools deserve no mercy!

Phil Engeldrum

Posted by: Phil Engeldrum at August 6, 2005 05:08 PM