FATHER'S DAY WIDOW SHARES 9/11 GRIEF

Copyright 2002 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.
The New York Post...06/10/2002

Leonard Greene

SOME day, when the numbness wears off, she'll be able to face the truth.

"I'm actually dreading the second year," Denise Ford says.

That's when she suspects reality will set in, that her husband, firefighter Harry Ford, who was killed battling a blaze nearly a year ago on Father's Day, is dead and gone forever.

"I have not had a good year," Ford says. "It was bad enough losing Harry. Then, we lost all the others . . ."

This is where the voice trails off and silence finishes the sentence.

Until the Twin Towers fell and buried hundreds of firefighters in the rubble, the Father's Day fire that killed Harry Ford, Brian Fahey and John Downing was one of the biggest tragedies the city's Bravest had endured.

That was back before terrorists struck, when three was still a big number.

The trio was killed when a wall collapsed as they battled a blaze in an Astoria hardware store.

The fire started after one of two teenage boys, who were spray-painting graffiti on a fence behind the Long Island General Supply Co., kicked over a gasoline container, investigators found.

The department will dedicate plaques in honor of the three firefighters Friday, and tomorrow firefighters will observe a memorial service for Battalion Chief Brian Hickey, who was killed Sept. 11.

Hickey was chief of the elite Rescue 4 in Queens, where Fahey and Ford worked. Denise Ford said she will be at both events.

"I felt it did help me to go to the funerals," Ford said. "I thought at first, 'Oh my God, will they forget my husband?' Then I realized he will never be forgotten."

Soon, 12 months will have passed for the other wives who lost firefighter husbands last year.

Ford has become close to many of them over the last year, still going to daughters' weddings and baby showers.

Although her husband died a few months before his 343 brothers did, Ford still feels like they were all fighting the same fire.

"If Harry didn't die Father's Day, he would have died Sept. 11," Ford says. "There's no doubt in my mind he would have jumped on the fire truck."

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