Courtesy Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A highly decorated New York City firefighter
who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks posthumously received an
award named after him.
The first Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award was presented to
his family during a dinner Saturday night.
Downey, the chief of special operations command and New York
City's most decorated firefighter, was one of three top Fire
Department officials lost in the collapse of the World Trade
The gold medal and $50,000 award are honors Downey would have
been reluctant to accept, his family said.
"Because he was very humble, he'd probably say, 'All right,
that's enough.' But deep down inside, he'd be proud," said his
daughter, Marie Tortorici.
Downey, 63, was a firefighter for nearly 40 years. An expert in
urban search-and-rescue, he led a team of New York City
firefighters who responded to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
"It's a bittersweet moment for me," said Oklahoma Gov. Frank
Keating, who presented the award.
"I wish he was here to accept it," Downey's son, Capt. Joe
Downey, also a New York firefighter, said of the award. "He's been
to this show so many times as a firefighter. It's an honor for us
to have it in his name."
PenWell Corp., which owns the magazine Fire Engineering, and the
Fire Department Instructors Conference established the Courage and
Valor Foundation, which plans to honor a firefighter annually for
his or her courage.
The foundation is in memory of the 343 firefighters who died on
Sept. 11. It has raised $400,000 of a $1 million goal and plans to
award the income from the fund each year, said Robert Biolchini,
president and CEO of Tulsa-based Penwell.
Organizers say the weeklong conference was the largest gathering
of firefighters since the attacks. About 25,000 firefighters
attended the conference and about 540 attended the dinner.
On the Net:
Courage and Valor Award: www.courageandvalor.org
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Courage and Valor Award
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