Tour of Duty 2010
Australian firefighter Paul Ritchie from Melbourne is the event director of a special commemorative run from Los Angeles to New York to ensure the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks are never forgotten.
The Tour of Duty 2010, aims to ensure September 11 will not fade into the history books. It will also pay tribute to emergency services workers around the world.
Sixteen Aussie firefighters and twenty US firefighters are making their way across America. The 31 day relay-style event that commenced in LA on Thursday, 12 August, will take the firefighters through scorching hot deserts, several city centers and past the site of the 1995 Oklahoma bombings. They will arrive at Ground Zero in New York on September 11.
Former Australian prime minister John Howard bid the Aussie team farewell when they left for Los Angeles. He will meet the “Tour of Duty” runners when they arrive in New York.
“To run across the United States in August and September is no mean feat,” he told reporters.
“It’s an extraordinary achievement.”
The Australian contingent will carry with them a helmet signed by Fire Lieutenant Kevin Dowdell, a member of New York’s elite Rescue 1 crew who died in the collapse of the World Trade Centre’s twin towers after they were hit by airliners hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists.
At the end of the run, the helmet will be presented to Lieutenant Dowdell’s son, James, who is part of the US firies team.
It ended up in Australia after it was given to an Australian army officer who worked with Rescue 1 in 1998 during anti-terrorism training for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
For many of those taking part in the marathon journey, preparation for the challenging run started months ago. Six months before the run commencement, Jon Scully, the event co-ordinator, visited the US and drove the course to ensure the group would be able to achieve their goals.
Paul Ritchie indicated that 12 to 15 months of training preceded the run and that heat will be a major factor when the runners hit the Nevada desert when they will experience 50-degree heat.
The marathon journey will be run as a relay, with the firefighters divided into three teams. Each team will run for six hours in relay, sharing the load in short bursts on the road. Depending on the heat, the teams will spend six hours running and then 12 resting, so there are runners on the road 24 hours a day.
Support for the run
Mr Sculley says the team has been shown great interest so far, with the run attracting support from former Australian prime minister John Howard, comedian Jerry Lewis and actor Hugh Jackman.
Proceeds from the run will be donated to a number of charities including burns units across Australia and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in the US.
10 Australians killed in 9/11 terrorist attacks
The huge loss of life in the 9/11 terrorist attacks is something we should never forget. Ten Australians were victims –
Alberto Dominguez, 66, from Lidcombe, NSW. A Qantas baggage handler on holidays who was on board American Airlines Flight 11 which crashed into the World Trade Centre (WTC) in New York.
Yvonne Kennedy, 62, from Sydney, who was on American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon in Washington.
Craig Neil Gibson, 37, from Randwick in Sydney, who was working on 94th floor of the WTC north tower in the offices of insurers Marsh and McLennan.
Steve Tompsett, 39, from Merrylands, NSW, who was in the WTC north tower.
Elisa Ferraina, 27, from Sydney. She was born in Australia, but had just taken out UK citizenship. She was on the 106th floor of the WTC north tower.
Lesley Anne Thomas, 41, from NSW, was in the WTC north tower.
Leanne Whiteside, 31, a lawyer from Melbourne who was in the WTC south tower.
Peter Gyulavary, 44, was born in Geelong, Victoria but had moved to the US 20 years ago. He was working on the 91st floor of the WTC south tower.
Andrew Knox, 29, from Adelaide was working with a building construction company on the 103rd floor of the WTC north tower.
Kevin Dennis, 43, was originally from the Gold Coast, Queensland, but had become a US-based stock broker with Cantor Fitzgerald and was working on the 101st floor of WTC north tower.
My thoughts are with the families of these ten Australian victims and each and every other victim of the unforgivable act of terrorism that occurred on 11 September 2001.
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