(UPDATE 9/14/21): Johan Zamoscianyk told ABC News 4 on Tuesday that the missing dress uniform had been found!
It was more than a uniform.
It was a reminder of lives lost, of desperate days of searching, and of survival.
And it was also a priceless piece of pride and patriotism.
Now, a local hero is without one of his most sacred possessions: his New York City Fire Department dress uniform.
“My jaw dropped,” said Johan Zamoscianyk when he learned his uniform was missing. “It was like I was hit I the stomach; gut punched.”
Zamoscianyk said he was already in a ‘funk’ during the days leading up to Saturday, September 11th.
“Because of the upcoming anniversary of 9/11,” he said. “And this just pushed me over the edge.”
The former FDNY EMT was among those who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks 20 years ago.
“Every day I close my eyes and I see a slideshow,” Zamoscianyk said. “It gets worse around the anniversary.”
That day of unimaginable grief had become emulated through that priceless piece of patriotism.
When attempting to pick up the uniform from Sandy’s Dry Cleaners off Old Trolley Road in Summerville, Zamoscianyk said staff were unable to locate it.
I’m still not sleeping,” he said. “And I won’t sleep until I get resolution.
Zamoscianyk tells ABC News 4 that he and his family have received no answers from Sandy’s.
He said he and his daughter have reached out to the business and has been unable to provide answers.
Owner Sandy Weaver said she is broken up about the lost uniform and will not stop looking until it is found.
She said the business processes anywhere from 1,200 to 2,200 pieces of clothing a day.
“I’m really proud of our quality control systems, but it does happen,” said Weaver when asked how often pieces of clothing go missing. “And when it does happen, there are equal systems in place that allow us to solve the problem.”
While those systems have thus far come up short, Weaver said she feels responsible and is aware negative comments have surfaced online.
“That’s okay. It really is okay, because it’s not about us,” she said. “It’s about trying to locate this uniform and trying to let this hero wear it again.”
On Saturday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Zamoscianyk says he felt discomfort having to wear a shirt and tie instead of his priceless uniform.
“When I’m representing the department at a service, I should be dressed appropriately, and I wasn’t,” he said. “Plain and simple, that was the uniform I was going to be buried in because of my ties with 9/11, and that’s all gone now.
Zamoscianyk and Weaver are asking Sandy’s customers to look in your closets and see if the uniform may be stuck to other pieces of clothing.
They’re asking people to contact the store or reach out to them directly if it is located.