FDNY pays tribute to 9/11 fallen chaplain
FDNY enshrined the chaplain's jacket and helmet in the Fire Museum's permanent collection
By Joe Walker
The New York Post
NEW YORK — He's still the emotional rock for his beloved firefighters.
A solemn march from a Midtown church and firehouse paid tribute yesterday to 9/11 victim Father Mychal Judge — and enshrined the FDNY chaplain's jacket and helmet in the Fire Museum's permanent collection.
"It gives us a little comfort for what is a very difficult week" capped by the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Commissioner Sal Cassano said at the Spring Street museum.
About 200 people made the heartbreaking trek to carry Judge's fire jacket and helmet from his church, St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street.
Among the marchers was Bob Ogren, 71, of Florida, whose firefighter son Joseph, 30, was killed in the terror strike.
"I'm able to get through [the 10th anniversary] because of all of these people — even when I have tears in my eyes," he said.
The marchers — led by hero NYPD cop Steve McDonald, who was paralyzed by a thug's bullet in 1986 — stopped to briefly pray at firehouses along the way.
Each time, firefighters inside would emerge to stand quietly, their hands clasped in front of them, their faces still etched in grief for the loss of "Father Mike."
Judge died in the north tower, felled by flying debris when the south tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m.
An NYPD lieutenant found his body in the rubble and, along with two firemen and two civilians, carried him to nearby St. Peter's Church.
That incredible procession — snapped by a wire-service photographer, carried around the globe and considered an American Piet — became the iconic representation of the horrific devastation of that day.
Later, Judge was designated Victim 0001 — the first official casualty of 9/11.
"He was God in the flesh," McDonald said. "I was terribly injured, close to death, but he brought me along in . . . the love of God. He was all that — my arms and legs."
But, McDonald said, he meant something unique to everyone he met.
"He was love, to the homeless person on the street, to the people on Wall Street . . . and everyone in between, regardless of their station in life," he said.
McDonald also praised the openly gay priest for the comfort he lent McDonald's brother, who died of AIDS.
"I always miss him. I always will, until I see him again," McDonald said.
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- 10 years after 9/11