9/11 firefighter's helmet stolen from house

Michael O'Connell carried his helmet home when he retired in 2009, shortly after being diagnosed with sarcoidosis

NEW YORK — A retired FDNY firefighter launched a full-scale search for his helmet worn during 9/11 that was stolen from his home two years ago.

NY Daily News reported that a thief stole the helmet, along with firefighting memorabilia, TVs and jewelry, from Michael O’Connell’s home.

“This is something that's dear to my heart. It’s a piece of history. It belongs to my children,” said O’Connell, who left the police force to become a firefighter.

Photo courtesy Michael O'Connell via Facebook
Photo courtesy Michael O'Connell via Facebook

On Sept. 11, 2001, he wore the helmet as he rushed from his firehouse to the crumbling twin towers. He has had the helmet with him every day since, including when he retired in 2009 after being diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease prevalent in 9/11 responders.

"It's something every firefighter wants to hold on to. You spend your whole life in the department, your whole career with this piece of equipment. It's protected you in some of the hardest and hairiest situations of your life," he said.

O’Connell filed a police report in 2013 when the burglary occurred, but he hasn’t heard anything since. He took to Facebook on Tuesday to seek the return of his irreplaceable keepsake. By midnight, his pleas had been shared nearly 70,000 times.

"I know it's a long shot, but if enough people share, maybe it turns up or is sent back so I can keep it in my family! Thanks!" O'Connell posted Tuesday morning with a picture of his son wearing the helmet in 2010.

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