Firefighters travel by rail to honor fallen comrades
Dan Rodricks

Originally published Oct 19, 2001

Dan Rodricks
Dan Rodricks

Life -- and the mourning -- goes on. Fifteen Baltimore County firefighters will catch an early Amtrak to New York City today, then switch to the Long Island Rail Road for the trip to St. Anthony's Church in Oceanside and the funeral of Thomas Gardner.

Kenneth Marino's funeral was in the same church Tuesday, and about 20 Baltimore County firefighters stood at attention for that one.

The same day, another group went to two funerals on Staten Island -- one for Steven Olson, one for Daniel Libretti.

Seventy Baltimore County firefighters went to David Fontana's funeral in Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Six of them, the department's honor guard, went to Assistant Chief Donald Burns' funeral last week in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Ten will attend tomorrow's service in Queens for Michael Mullan.

Fifty will go up Monday for Joseph Angelini's in Lindenhurst, Long Island.

There will be two more large contingents for double funerals in St. Patrick's on Nov. 5 -- David Arce and Michael Boyle -- and Nov. 9 -- Capt. Patrick Brown and Lt. Vincent Halloran.

"It's kind of overwhelming," says Mike Rehfeld, who, with fellow county firefighter John Millby, coordinates these trips to honor firefighters killed in New York City on 9-11. "The best part, for me, has been visiting the stations of these guys, stopping in to talk to them at stations in Manhattan, on the same day of the funerals. That was very important."

At Rehfeld's prodding, the firefighters union established a system for keeping track of New York funerals and making sure at least some Baltimore County firefighters attend them. Rehfeld has had no problem finding comrades willing to go. Most of them have been taking the train to Manhattan, riding free on Amtrak, the New York City subway and the LIRR.

"It's all volunteer," Rehfeld says. "The guys go when they're not on shift, on their own time. ... We're committed through Nov. 9."

And doubtless more funerals after that.

Copyright 2001, The Baltimore Sun

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