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Thread: About Ray

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    About Ray

    Ray had been assigned to Ladder Company 42 for many years before his ********* to Lieutenant and subsequent reassignment to Ladder Company 16. While in Ladder 42 he made a reputation not only as an excellent fireman, but also as an excellent human being. On September 11th. he had made it safely away from the collapse of the first tower of the World Trade Center. One of the most touching photo's taken the day of this tragedy shows Ray walking back into the dust cloud which was surrounding the devastation because he knew that there were people in there that needed help. That's the type of guy Ray always had been and will always be remembered as.

    _________________________________

    In a spontaneous moment, a firefighter reached into his pocket, pulled out a portable camera and snapped a photo of two comrades trudging forward through white smoke toward the remaining tower.

    "They're walking back in, and they're just covered with rubble," said Billy Curatolo, a firefighter with Engine Co. 23, describing the photograph. His brother, Robert, is one of the men. "It's just an unbelievable picture. It shows his bravery."

    The photo was snapped by firefighter Richard Rattazzi, who with Robert Curatolo and Lt. Ray Murphy had just run for cover after the first tower crumbled. But they were still on the job.

    "It's like that saying, 'You walk through the valley of death, but you have no fear,'" Rattazzi said. "That's what we were doing. We were walking back into it, like we do all the time."

    Curatolo died when the second tower toppled; Murphy is still missing. The photo has become a symbol for their firehouse on the Upper East Side and Ladder Co. 16 as well as for their families.

    "Not only is it a photo of their last moments, but it's also a photo that shows us that they're doing what we were all trained to do," said Lt. Raymond Wick of Engine 39, which shares the same firehouse. "It's proof to us that, in the face of danger, they didn't relent. It's a symbol of what we do."

    Curatolo, Murphy and Rattazzi had worked overnight on Sept. 10. Although they were off duty at 9 a.m., they remained at the firehouse watching the calamity unfold on television. At about 9:15, they were recalled to duty, and Curatolo telephoned his wife, Christine, to tell her that he was heading to the disaster. The three caught a ride to the scene with a police officer.

    "We were talking about sticking together," Rattazzi said. "We were trying to find our company so we could operate."

    The trio picked up masks and tools and started down West Street. When they got near, Tower Two tumbled. Billowing smoke and cascading debris engulfed them and they scrambled for cover.

    "We hadn't known it was Tower Two that came down," Rattazzi said. "Everything just got black. You couldn't see. You couldn't breath. The debris just kind of surrounded you."

    As a white cloud replaced the black smoke, Rattazzi helped someone to an ambulance and returned to find Curatolo and Murphy. They were about 25 feet ahead when he snapped their picture.

    Rattazzi then helped an injured fireman to an ambulance while Curatolo and Murphy kept pushing toward Tower One.

    "On my way back, my tools were gone, and they were gone," Rattazzi said. "I came across a chief, and I said I was missing two members from Ladder 16, and we couldn't find them."

    He was still looking for Curatolo and Murphy when Tower One, the first tower struck but the second to fall, let loose. "I got knocked off my feet by the wind," Rattazzi said. "It took my helmet flying."
    Last edited by Chris; 12-30-2001 at 07:55 PM.

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