They were best friends from childhood, which was why when Lt. Vinnie Halloran died on 9/11, Lt. Larry Mack didn’t hesitate to step in and raise the six kids who were left without a father.
For his years of devoting his time to the five Halloran boys, and the daughter who never had a chance to meet her dad, Mack was honored with an early Father’s Day surprise.
Mack, a diehard New York Jets fan who loved watching games with Halloran, was chosen to kick off Good Morning America’s "Big Daddy of All Surprises," a week-long special that recognized outstanding fathers.
This particularly stellar dad was honored with a Jets tailgate party at his fire station in Queens, New York. He also got a moving message from former Jets superstar Joe Namath and tickets for him, his two kids and the Halloran family to see the Jets play the Chicago Bears on Sept. 22.
But perhaps the most touching moment of the surprise was when Mack’s son and daughter, the Halloran kids and Halloran’s widow, Marie, shared in a video message about what having Mack around has meant to them.
Connor Halloran said that while many people sent a note or some food after his dad died, Mack "was there in a much more real way. And he helped keep everything together when we couldn’t."
Mack was there for the mourning kids from the moment Halloran died.
A member of Ladder 8 in Tribeca, Halloran, 43, and his fellow firefighters were the first to hit the tragic scene on Sept. 11, 2001, according to the Journal News.
Halloran, who was involved in his neighborhood’s Little League, had committed 20 years to the job and was killed trying to get people out of the World Trade Center towers, according to the paper.
When his memorial mass took place on Nov. 9, 2001, more than 2,000 mourners poured into a standing-room only service in Manhattan. Mack was one of four people to deliver a eulogy.
"There is no greater honor," Mack said during the service, "than getting your men out alive."
It’s an honor to get to know you, Lt. Mack. Happy Father’s Day.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the memorial service location was near Halloran's home.