Paramedic, September 11 responder passes after battle with cancer

By Joseph P. Smith Daily Journal

Longtime FDNY paramedic John W. Wyatt Jr. (right), who served during the recovery efforts following the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, received a 25-year service certificate from his former coworker Jay Swithers, deputy chief of the Bureau of Health Services for the Brooklyn center of FDNY, in June. Wyatt died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Staff photo, Cody Glenn

Longtime FDNY paramedic John W. Wyatt Jr. (right), who served during the recovery efforts following the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, received a 25-year service certificate from his former coworker Jay Swithers, deputy chief of the Bureau of Health Services for the Brooklyn center of FDNY, in June. Wyatt died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Staff photo, Cody Glenn

VINELAND — Cancer caught up to John W. Wyatt Jr. on Tuesday, ending a six-year, off-and-on battle for the former Fire Department of New York paramedic and September 11 responder.

Wyatt, however, kept the illness at bay long enough to fulfill one last goal. On Aug. 21, Wyatt and his ex-wife Linda were remarried in a private ceremony at their home in East Vineland. “It was a long courageous battle,” Linda Wyatt said Thursday. “It was very painful toward the end, but he fought the good fight.”

Wyatt, who turned 60 on Aug. 9, largely was confined to a bed and wheelchair for most of the last year. Cancer attacked his spine last fall, causing severe pain, and defied treatment.

It was his second cancer experience.

Wyatt had worked on cleanup and body recovery details as part of the recovery efforts at the destroyed World Trade Center towers in September 2001.

The FDNY lists Wyatt among those first responders who subsequently came down with a variety of diseases linked to exposure to debris.

In November 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer in one kidney. The organ was removed and followup treatment seemingly worked.

Wyatt, however, decided to retire from the Fire Department of New York in August 2008. He was a 25-year veteran.

Wyatt, a Montclair native, and his son, now 17, moved into their home here in August 2008.

The Wyatts had divorced after his retirement. His ex-wife quit her job and came to live with him in December.

In June, FDNY Deputy Chief Jay Swithers — a friend of Wyatt’s — organized a trip here to deliver a 25-year service certificate to their colleague. Members of the Vineland Fire Department joined them in honoring Wyatt.

Linda Wyatt said her husband was moved to a hospice in Bridgeton about two weeks ago. His will directed that his body be donated to the University of Pennsylvania, she said.

A memorial service is planned for sometime next month in Montclair, where Wyatt has family.

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