NYC Ladder 53 Firefighter Remembered

Newsday - May 08, 2011

by EMILY NGO

Their bond is undeniable. And they say it will last forever.

The firefighters of East Harlem's Ladder 53, Engine 43, Saturday had their minds on the late Lt. Michael Murphy of the Navy SEALs, even as they answered calls.

The patch that represents their firehouse was worn by the men in Murphy's team in the mountains of Afghanistan when they were slain in a firefight six years ago.

And the patch will sail proudly aboard the newly christened USS Michael Murphy when it launches next year. The firefighters of Ladder 53 Engine 43 wear the Navy SEAL patch in return.

While more than a dozen of their colleagues traveled to Bath, Maine, to watch the ceremony, those on duty at the firehouse Saturday said they couldn't be prouder of the man most of them had never met.

That patch -- bright red, featuring images of an ax, crowbar and fire hose set against flames and reading "El Barrio's Bravest" -- was included in a box of keepsakes on board the USS Michael Murphy.

It was given to Murphy by his longtime friend, Owen O'Callaghan, who served in the firehouse at the time.

Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, Murphy had asked O'Callaghan for a symbol to motivate his SEALs team, something that would remind them of Sept. 11 and the reason for their work. O'Callaghan had lost an uncle, fire Lt. Daniel O'Callaghan, in the terror attacks.

Saturday, Owen O'Callaghan was among those who went to Maine to see the christening of the USS Michael Murphy. "It's overwhelming, amazing," he said. "Not only to be friends with someone who got such an honor, but to see a ship named after him."

Another of El Barrio's Bravest, Kevin Joos of Massapequa, also went to Maine Saturday.

"Michael Murphy has been a cornerstone of the firehouse since he died," he said. "Being at the christening of a boat named in his honor, it's just one of those moments we will never forget."

Ladder 53, Engine 43 last year erected a memorial to Murphy in the firehouse where his photo, a plaque and several badges are hung. Saturday, firefighters touched it, as they always do, each time they walked past the memorial.

Daniel O'Callaghan's widow, Rhonda, said there is a kinship between the families, though she'd never met Murphy. "We both suffered a loss. I cannot imagine losing a child. I could not imagine their pain."

With Martin C. Evans and Matthew ChayesNewsday 5/8/11 by EMILY NGO.

Their bond is undeniable. And they say it will last forever.

The firefighters of East Harlem's Ladder 53, Engine 43, Saturday had their minds on the late Lt. Michael Murphy of the Navy SEALs, even as they answered calls.

The patch that represents their firehouse was worn by the men in Murphy's team in the mountains of Afghanistan when they were slain in a firefight six years ago.

And the patch will sail proudly aboard the newly christened USS Michael Murphy when it launches next year. The firefighters of Ladder 53 Engine 43 wear the Navy SEAL patch in return.

While more than a dozen of their colleagues traveled to Bath, Maine, to watch the ceremony, those on duty at the firehouse Saturday said they couldn't be prouder of the man most of them had never met.

That patch -- bright red, featuring images of an ax, crowbar and fire hose set against flames and reading "El Barrio's Bravest" -- was included in a box of keepsakes on board the USS Michael Murphy.

It was given to Murphy by his longtime friend, Owen O'Callaghan, who served in the firehouse at the time.

Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, Murphy had asked O'Callaghan for a symbol to motivate his SEALs team, something that would remind them of Sept. 11 and the reason for their work. O'Callaghan had lost an uncle, fire Lt. Daniel O'Callaghan, in the terror attacks.

Saturday, Owen O'Callaghan was among those who went to Maine to see the christening of the USS Michael Murphy. "It's overwhelming, amazing," he said. "Not only to be friends with someone who got such an honor, but to see a ship named after him."

Another of El Barrio's Bravest, Kevin Joos of Massapequa, also went to Maine Saturday.

"Michael Murphy has been a cornerstone of the firehouse since he died," he said. "Being at the christening of a boat named in his honor, it's just one of those moments we will never forget."

Ladder 53, Engine 43 last year erected a memorial to Murphy in the firehouse where his photo, a plaque and several badges are hung. Saturday, firefighters touched it, as they always do, each time they walked past the memorial.

Daniel O'Callaghan's widow, Rhonda, said there is a kinship between the families, though she'd never met Murphy. "We both suffered a loss. I cannot imagine losing a child. I could not imagine their pain."

With Martin C. Evans and Matthew Chayes