Hub jakes join with others in N.Y. procession for fallen heroes

by Jessica Heslam
Friday, October 11, 2002

A massive memorial and somber procession through the Big Apple tomorrow to remember the 343 New York City firefighters killed Sept. 11 is being partly organized by Hub fire officials.

As many as 100,000 firefighters from around the world are expected to march in the two-mile procession to Madison Square Garden, where families of their fallen New York comrades will be bestowed medals of valor.

Bay State native Jerry Dewan, a third generation firefighter, was among those who died trying to rescue people from the World Trade Center. His family plans to be at the ceremony.

``They gave their lives for us. They certainly deserve this,'' said Dewan's sister, Maureen Gilligan of Norwood.

Nearly 400 Boston firefighters and as many as 4,000 more from across the Bay State are expected in New York City.

``We feel it is important we go down and let them know that we're still behind them and feeling their pain also,'' said Rescue One firefighter Larry Holt, who was part of the Boston contingent sent to New York Sept. 11.

Holt dug through rubble searching for survivors and bodies for nine days. ``It was a scene that was hard to believe,'' Holt said.

Boston fire officials were called in to help based on the extraordinary memorial they helped organize to honor the six Worcester firefighters who perished in a devastating warehouse blaze in 1999.

That event drew thousands of firefighters across the globe to Worcester, as well as then-President Bill Clinton, and is considered a model of what a firefighter memorial should be, Hub fire officials said.

Boston firefighter Ralph Dowling is heading up the outside logistics in New York. FDNY is organizing the indoor ceremony.

Thirteen other New York firefighters who died this year will also be honored. Organizers said more than 300 firefighters will carry a single American flag for each fallen firefighter.

Their families will receive medals honoring their loved one's ultimate sacrifice at a ceremony in the arena.

Dave Wedge contributed to this report.