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Thread: Last Day at Ground Zero

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    Last Day at Ground Zero

    Firefighters Have Mixed Emotions Over End Of Recovery

    ROGER CLARK
    Courtesy NY1.com

    NEW YORK --

    Firefighter Greg Sclafani checked the Ladder 85 roster board for the last time Wednesday. It was his last shift before retiring, after 20 years on the job.

    The end of his days as a firefighter coincide with the end of recovery work at the World Trade Center site, where Sclafani spent countless hours searching for lost brothers.

    "Every time each and every member pulled out a body it was satisfaction to some family and closure to some family," Sclafani said. "That's what kept us all going."

    And while many of their comrades remain unaccounted for, Sclafani and other firefighters said they believe their work is done at the site.

    "I don't think there is any further we can go, as long as that site is squared off and the last shovel is taken out, then I'm satisfied," Sclafani said.

    Fellow firefighter Joseph Collica agreed. "I'm somewhat relieved that the page is being closed," he said. "Obviously, it

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    Retired Firefighters Still Hope To Find Sons' Remains

    Retired Firefighters Still Hope To Find Sons' Remains

    JOHN SCHIUMO
    Courtesy NY1.com

    NEW YORK --

    They were there when fires burned, days after the attacks. They were there when bodies were carried out with honors.

    Now, a handful of fathers who have taken comfort in gathering together at the site each day, must say goodbye to their daily ritual as the recovery effort shifts away from the World Trade Center site.

    Some have recovered their sons; others have not. Now, as the site of the twin towers closes, the fathers move on, each in their own way.

    "There's no closure," said retired firefighter Bill Butler, who lost his 37-year-old son, Thomas, and who has spent six to seven days a week working at the World Trade Center site. "At this point, I doubt very much we're going to bring my son home. There's going to be a lot of us that are not going to bring our boys home and there's a lot of people we're not going to recover and a lot of people are going to be left here."

    "I want it over," said retired firefighter John Vigiano, who lost two sons, John and Joseph. "I hope they recover everybody they can. I hope these families can get some semblance of life back to their existence. I'll come here when there's a monument built but I won't come here after that."

    But other fathers plan to come back on a daily basis.

    Lee Lelpi recovered his son, Jonathan, in December and vows to stay on the front lines in the city's rebuilding effort.

    "What I want to do is probably going to benefit everybody that lost loved ones here," Lelpi said. "Make sure that this site is handled with respect, which it will be, and nobody said it wasn

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    DADS' SAD WALK HOME

    DADS' SAD WALK HOME

    By WILLIAM NEUMAN

    May 31, 2002 --

    A close-knit group of fathers - most retired firefighters - have spent nearly every day since Sept. 11 searching for the remains of their fallen firefighter sons at what used to be the World Trade Center.

    Now this bunch - a Ground Zero "band of fathers" - faces a new set of challenges with the end of the recovery work that has been their only focus for so long.

    "It'll be hard to break away from it, leaving the site," said Bill Butler, a retired fire captain whose 37-year-old son Thomas, a firefighter with Squad 1, was killed Sept. 11.

    From that day, Butler has dedicated himself to searching, first for survivors, then for remains. And it is a bitter reality for many of these fathers that, although they have found the remains of other victims, their own sons are still lost.

    "You find people and you find remains. You always figure your day will come," Butler, 62, said yesterday, after marching in the ceremony to mark the end of the Ground Zero recovery. "It wasn't to be for a lot of people. It's tough."

    Battalion Chief Jim Riches, 51, is still on the job at the FDNY, although he's been assigned for eight months to Ground Zero. He is one of the few in the band of fathers to find his son - Jim, a firefighter with Engine 4.

    "It's like Dante's Inferno down here," he said at Ground Zero. "There's 19,000 body parts. Some of us were, they say,

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