Spring Valley firefighter killed in WTC identified

(Original publication: June 6, 2003)

The remains of Capt. Vernon Allan Richard, a firefighter from Spring Valley who died saving the lives of others during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, have been positively identified, the city's medical examiner announced yesterday.

Richard, 53, was a firefighter with Tower Ladder Company 7 in Manhattan. He was one of 18 New York Fire Department members from Rockland killed when terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Richard is survived by his wife of 30 years, Dorothy, and two children, Vernon Allan Richard II and Vernessa.

Richard became a firefighter in 1977 because it gave him joy to help others, his wife has said. He was a lieutenant, but was promoted to captain five days after his death.

Richard, who enjoyed jogging around Rockland Lake and ran in the New York City marathon six times, was active throughout Rockland. In June 1996 he was ordained a deacon and served at First Baptist Church in Spring Valley. He was also a member of the church's Male Choir and an adviser of the Community Youth Council.

Richard also did outreach work and counseling with Alcoholics Anonymous. He was a member of many service organizations, including the FDNY Vulcan Society, the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters and Local 854 of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. He was the lieutenants' representative on the board of the FDNY Honor Emergency Fund and had become involved with the Teamsters National Black Caucus.

Twelve FDNY members from Rockland have been found and identified at the World Trade Center.

Richard is one of 343 New York Fire Department members killed during the terrorist attack. With Richard's identification, the bodies or remains of 205 FDNY members have been identified. Of the 2,792 people killed at the World Trade Center, there are now 1,494 victims identified, or 54 percent.