FDNY's Ray Downey Mourned

firehouse.com, (New York, NY), 12/16/01

NEW YORK (AP) -- Thousands of firefighters gathered Saturday at a memorial for their fallen colleague Ray Downey, one of three top Fire Department officials lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Downey, chief of special operations command, was a firefighter for nearly 40 years and was the city's most decorated firefighter at age 63.

At the memorial service in Deer Park, on Long Island, a bagpipe procession was followed by a fire truck that carried a large flower arrangement made to resemble an American flag. Downey's helmet was on top.

Large American flags hung from fire ladders outside the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church, where Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani were among the mourners. After the service, a group of children released two bouquets of white balloons into the air.

Downey was an expert on urban search-and-rescue, and led a team of New York City firefighters who responded to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. It was his idea to use cables to anchor a giant slab that was dangling from a roof of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, endangering rescuers.