WTC FIREFIGHTER FINALLY LAID TO REST

By LORENA MONGELLI

September 8, 2005 -- Nearly four years after he died in the 9/11 attacks, firefighter Gerard Baptiste was finally laid to rest yesterday.

Baptiste, 35, a member of Ladder 9 in the East Village, perished trying to rescue people in the north tower of the World Trade Center.

His remains were not identified until earlier this year, forcing his family and colleagues to wait until yesterday to say their last goodbyes.

"I am very proud to have a son like him," said his father, also named Gerard. "He dedicated his life to serving the city and others."

The funeral service for Baptiste was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral at 10 a.m. yesterday, attended by about 60 family members, fellow firefighters and dignitaries such as Edward Cardinal Egan and Mayor Bloomberg.

"He was driven by an unbridled passion to help others," the mayor said. Baptiste, a second lieutenant in the "Fighting 69th" Infantry division of the New York National Guard, was accorded military honors, as well as an honor guard from the FDNY.

He was remembered for his love of animals. He was affectionately known as "Biscuit" because he'd hand out treats to dogs outside his firehouse.

"After a while, all the dogs knew him," said his boss, Lt. Robert Larocco. "Now we have a box of dog biscuits at the front to remember him."

Baptiste was buried yesterday at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx. near his friend and fellow firefighter Manuel Delvalle, who also died on 9/11.



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