One of the Last 9/11 Firefighters Laid to Rest

(New York - WABC, Sept. 7, 2005) - Friends and families gathered in Manhattan Wednesday to help lay to rest one of the last firefighters to die during the 9/11 terror attacks.

Gerald Baptiste was one of three firefighter from an East Village company to die at Ground Zero. His recovered remains were recently identified through DNA. Eyewitness News reporter Ken Rosato has the story.

The final farewell took place nearly four years after his death, but the fire department kept its promise to one family today: to return the bodies of those lost on September 11th.

The remains of Gerard Baptiste were identified through DNA this year, and so today hundreds of firefighters turned out for a funeral mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Joining them: members of the Fighting 69th of the Army National Guard, where Baptiste was a second lieutenant.

Baptiste was one of the 343 firefighters killed on 9/11. He was last seen evacuating people out of the north tower. Today he was remembered as a soldier, lifeguard, avid baseball player and someone who always gave treats to neighborhood dogs. Colleagues teased Baptiste by calling him "biscuits."

Baptiste's other passion was chronicled in a documentary titled "Dream Bike." The 35-year old had started renovating a rusted out motorcycle and after his death, his colleagues finished the job.

As one firefighter put it, in a few days, in a few days we'll honor everyone who was lost, today is Gerard's day.

Stay with us for complete coverage of the memorial services planned for September 11th. Coverage begins this Sunday morning at 8:30, right here on Eyewitness News.

(Copyright 2005 WABC-TV)

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