Bravest Let GIs Know Why They Fight

Firefighter Joseph Higgins wears a memorial bracelet on his right wrist.

It reads simply: "Lt. Timothy Higgins FDNY 9-11-01."

Tim's body was found 16 days after the collapse of the World Trade Center. He was found by his brothers Joseph and Mike, a retired firefighter.

"The first thing I am going to do when I get to Kabul is to give one of three identical bracelets to one of the troops," Joseph said.

"I am keeping mine, and the third bracelet I am going to bury in the Afghan earth.

"Maybe in 20 years' time, some local kid might dig it up, find it and get some idea about the sacrifice my brother and so many others made and get some sense of it all."

Firefighter Larry Connors said, " I want to tell the troops about a lady I know who lost her daughter at the World Trade Center.

"She tells me that when she goes to sleep, she doesn't want to wake up. I want to tell them that the job they have been doing in Afghanistan helps her survive the days."

Officers Higgins and Connors are among four firefighters and two cops who are making a historic pilgrimage to the troops in Afghanistan to just say thanks - ground hero to ground hero.

It's the first humanitarian flight to land in Kabul since hostilities started.

The flight to Kabul, carrying 90,000 pounds of food and blankets, is being sponsored by "The Spirit of America," funded by companies Diageo and its subsidiary, Guinness UDV.

Police Officer José Guerra, who raced to ground zero while recuperating from a shotgun wound to the face fired by a thug in a shootout, said:

"The first thing I am going to do when I land on Afghanistan soil is to present the official NYPD flag to the troops and hoist it high."

Detective Thomas McDonald was bid farewell on his journey by his brother Sgt. Stephen McDonald, who was paralyzed when shot by a punk 15 years ago.

Detective McDonald has seen battlefields before. He was a Navy Corpsman in the Gulf War.

"I just feel so proud to be a part of this history," he said.

Father John Delendick, fire chaplain said:

"We will all want to pray as soon as we get there for those who are lost and give thanks to these wonderful troops."

Tomorrow, they're off to Kabul.

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