New York firefighters continue cross-country tour

Monday, December 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Six New York City firefighters who responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center visited the site of the Oklahoma City bombing on Sunday during a brief respite from their monthlong ``Thank You'' tour of the nation.

``I pray that New York City does what you guys have done,'' firefighter Dan Rowan said after touring the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

A total of 168 people were killed and hundreds more were injured when a bomb ripped through the federal building on April 19, 1995.

Rowan and Drew Robb, Matthew Hornung, Salvatore ``Sal'' Princiotta, Gerard Dolan and Ralph Perricelli are firefighters from Engine Company 33 and Ladder Company 9 in New York City. The four companies lost a total of 10 firefighters in the terrorist attacks, which killed thousands.

The firefighters are bicycling across the nation to express their thanks for the outpouring of love and support they received after the terrorist attacks.

Princiotta is the nephew of Deputy Fire Chief Raymond Downey, who helped in the rescue and recovery efforts after the federal building bombing. Downey died helping others after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Princiotta's T-shirt bore a photograph of Downey in uniform. He also wore his uncle's Oklahoma City Fire Department ball cap, given to him by Downey's wife just before he left on the 100-mile-a-day bike ride.

The firefighters planned to continue their cross-country tour to California on Monday. The five cyclists and one support driver arrived Saturday night in Oklahoma City.

``This all started after being down at ground zero for 54 hours with my team,'' Rowan said. ``We're not just riding for ourselves. We're riding for a nation that's on our shoulders. We have to get out and give a personal 'thank you' to everyone.''

They left the site of the attack just before 9 a.m. Nov. 11, exactly two months after the first hijacked airliner hit one of the trade center's twin towers.

The group will stop in Elk City before leaving the state. They plan to arrive Dec. 16 at their final destination of Pasadena, Calif. By then, they expect to have visited more than 200 firehouses along the way.