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AW1 Joseph J. Pycior, Jr., USN

For as long as his parents can remember, Joseph John Pycior, Jr., wanted to be in the Navy. “In Carlstadt, they had an organization years ago called the Naval Brigade, for kids eight and nine years old and up,” says Arlene Pycior, his mom, who proudly remembers her son’s involvement in that brigade. “They wore regular Navy uniforms – the blue Navy uniforms in winter, white in summer that were, of course, specially tailored for the kids. They met every week, and the building they met at was their ‘ship.’ They had to abide by Navy rules.” 

After September 11th, Arlene Pycior was among the relatives gathered in Landover, Maryland to await word about her 39-year-old son who was among the 184 people still unaccounted for after the attack on the Pentagon. Arlene had traveled from New Jersey to keep vigil with his wife, Terri, and the couple’s sons, 10-year-old Joseph John, III and 8-year-old Robert Adam. 

Terri Pycior, a Carlstadt native who met her future husband at Becton Regional High School in East Rutherford, spoke proudly about her missing husband. 

“I can tell you he’s a den leader for Cub Scouts,” she said. “He’s happy, outgoing, funny. He loves children. Everyone that he works with loves him. And he’s the perfect dad and husband.” 

The couple, who married in 1986, were both involved in their high school’s Naval Junior ROTC unit. “He was company commander senior year, and then, of course, when he graduated from high school in June 1980, he went right into the Navy,” Arlene Pycior said. “He was always a good kid.” 

Back at the family home in Carlstadt, her husband, Joseph J. Pycior, reminisced about their son, as CNN news reports about the terrorist attacks quietly droned in the background. 

“Was he into sports as a kid? Not that much. He was more or less into the Navy,” said Pycior, a Navy veteran who served in the Korean War. “Both my sons were interested in the service.” (Not far from his arm chair, a triangular glass case displaying an American flag honors his only other child, Gregory James, a U.S. Army veteran who died in 1990.) 

In recent years, the father said, his namesake son took the most pride in being a father. “He was always with the kids, taking them camping, fishing and whatnot,” he said. Before Pycior started working at the Pentagon in early 1999, he had served on a number of ships, including the U.S.S. George Washington and U.S.S. Seattle. During Desert Storm, he was stationed in the Persian Gulf. 

“I felt he was at the safest place in the world. You figure it’s the nerve center of the whole Armed Forces there,” he said. 

In releasing the names of the missing, the Defense Department listed Pycior’s title as Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class. 

“When they have the press conferences, he compiles all the information, from graphs and charts,” his wife explained. 

On that Tuesday morning, she said, her husband called home and spoke to their 10-year-old son. “He had called here to see if we knew about the World Trade Center, and he also called my mother, who lives on Sixth Street (in Carlstadt), and told her to go outside and look,” Terri Pycior said. “She could see the smoke from the Trade Center. I think he was in his office when the plane hit. I know he was in his office 15 minutes before the plane hit.” 

She notes proudly that her husband was about to earn his Bachelor’s degree in History through Thomas Edison State College. She added that he’d also put in his retirement papers with the Navy. “We wanted to move back to Jersey at the beginning of January,” she said.
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