From Police Heroes, a book by author Chuck Whitlock:
Officer Paul Jurgens, forty-seven, was driving from JFK Airport to Jersey City on the morning of September 11th. He was last seen speeding to the World Trade Center to help. A Port Authority officer for twenty-one years, he helped rescue many of the injured during the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center. In 1992 he was involved in the successful evacuation of 292 passengers from a burning jet that had crashed on takeoff at JFK Airport.
A former Marine Corps corporal, Jurgens joined the Port Authority police in 1980. His proficiency in rescue work led to a job as instructor at the Port Authority’s Rescue Training Center. Jurgens also volunteered for the East Meadow Fire Department and coached Police Athletic League baseball.
He and his wife, Maria, had three children – Paul, June and Lindsay. The youngest of four siblings, Jurgens loved pulling practical jokes. As reported in the New York Times and New York Post accounts of the September 29 memorial service for Jurgens, his brother-in-law said he woke up after dozing off one evening after dinner to find the words “Paul Jurgens is my hero” written on his arm. “Now I realize how true that is,” he said.
Portraits of Grief, The New York Times
A Hero Once Again
Those who knew Paul Jurgens said his life was divided into three parts: family, work and practical jokes. He excelled at all three.
He joined the Port Authority police in 1980 and developed such expertise as a rescuer that he was made an instructor at the authority’s Rescue Training Center. On the morning of Sept. 11, Mr. Jurgens, 47, was driving from Kennedy International Airport to Jersey City, but he detoured and was last seen speeding to the World Trade Center to help. In 1992, he rushed onto a burning jumbo jet that had crashed on takeoff at Kennedy and helped usher all 292 passengers to safety.
“What he did was unusual and heroic,” said Sgt. Mike Florie, one of his supervisors. “It’s hot and smoke-filled, and you’re risking your life.”
On weekends, he loved to shoot baskets and throw softballs with Paul, Jr., June and Lindsay. He and his wife, Maria, also loved inviting friends over to barbecues.
“He always used to say, ‘I got it made. I got the greatest wife, the greatest kids and the greatest job,’” she said. As for practical jokes, his brother-in-law, Tony Liotta, recalled that when he woke up after dozing off one evening after dinner, he found “Paul Jurgens is my hero” written on his arm.
At a memorial service in Levittown, N.Y., Mr. Liotta said, “Now I realize how true that is.”