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Motorcycle trip honours fallen firefighters

Hundreds of association members link up on cross-country journey
Laura Walz

Two Powell River firefighters are travelling to New York on their motorcycles to participate in events marking the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Mickey Adam and Carl Jones, members of Local 1298 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) left Powell River on August 31. The IAFF Motorcycle Group is hosting a tribute rally in Newburgh, New York. On Sunday, September 11, thousands of firefighters will ride from Newburgh to the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in New York City.

“We’re going to be there to honour the 343 firefighters and all the civilians that were killed when the Twin Towers collapsed,” said Adam. “There will be a ride on the Sunday from Newburgh, New York to Ground Zero. They’re expecting 1,500 to 1,800 internationals on bikes, maybe more.”

On their journey across the United States, Adam and Jones will be meeting up with other firefighters who will travel with them. The association has outlined ride routes and firefighters from all over North America will be joining in as the firefighters make their way to New York.

Adam said the group has to make it to Newburgh in eight days, then they’ll be there for three days. The trip and the memorial services are important events to honour the firefighters who died in the attacks. “It was a tragic situation that never should have happened,” said Adam. “They’re our brothers. Even though we didn’t know them, they’re still our brothers. They would come this way to honour us. It’s about duty and courage, so we have to go there to honour them. It’s just the natural thing to do.”

Jones said he was looking forward to representing Local 1298. “I’m also supporting all the other brothers that are coming together to support this cause,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to representing our community, our City of Powell River. It’s quite an opportunity and I appreciate it.”

Adam has been on longer bike trips, but this will be Jones’ first long-distance journey. “It’s pretty exciting,” Jones said. “We’ll be seeing a lot of the country down there. It should be cool.”

When the memorial event is completed, Adam and Jones will hop on their bikes and head back west. They hope to travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado in four days, to attend the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Service, which honours the sacrifice made by IAFF members who serve as professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel who have given their lives in the line of duty. Since its creation in 1976 through June 2010, the names of 2,410 fallen IAFF members have been engraved into the wall of honour located behind the memorial.

Bill Grantham, Local 1298 president, will be attending the service to honour the memory of Les Husband, a Powell River firefighter who died in 1990. His name is being placed on the wall this year. “He had a heart attack,” said Grantham. “It was a line-of-duty death. It has been recognized, but it was never officially recognized on the wall in Colorado Springs.”

Grantham will be representing Local 1298 and the Husband family at the service. Hopefully, Adam and Jones will arrive on time, but they have six days of travel to cover in four days. “We’re going to try and make it,” said Adam.

Powell River firefighters will be marking September 11 with a short service at 9:30 am at the firehall on Courtenay Street. The public is welcome to attend.

Adam will be blogging during the trip.