On Sept. 9, Sailors from guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) made a house call to New York City Fire Department Engine Company 65 to renew a friendship and pay their respect to a hero whose example of honor and bravery is permanently fixed aboard Carney's messdecks in a memorial dedicated to fallen firefighter Thomas McCann. On Sept. 11 2003, New York City Fire Department Engine Company 65 dedicated a memorial to a fallen colleague aboard Carney. The story of McCann's brave spirit and sacrifice is inscribed on a plaque by the main door of Carney's mess decks.
This detailed memorial is a symbolic fire station which runs from the floor to the ceiling: a yellow, New York City hose and an axe sit underneath framed photos of McCann, his Times Square Fire Station, and the plaque memorializing his service and sacrifice. McCann's fire fighting helmet crowns the memorial.
This scene, which meets every Sailor who exits the mess decks, has been a lesson in heroism for the last six years and a renewed friendship with Company 65 was one of the most rewarding events during Carney's visit to New York City.
Since the memorial's dedication, a new generation of Carney firefighters has arrived on scene. This new group of Sailors has been deeply touched by McCann's memory. As soon as Carney made plans for a New York City port visit, they began reaching out to Company 65. The fire fighters eagerly agreed to meet Carney when she arrived in the Big Apple.
The fire fighters toured Carney with Chief Damage Controlman Dedrick Walker. They met Sailors with warm handshakes and showed their enthusiasm for the ship while donning full battle gear and posing for pictures by the .50 cal. machine guns. They visited Carney's fire fighting stations, repair lockers, and central control station, eagerly pressing Walker for information about Carney fire-fighting techniques.
The tour paused for a long, silent moment on the mess decks in front of McCann's memorial. The members of Co. 65 were brought to tears by beautiful display and were thankful that his memory lived on so strongly aboard Carney.
The fire fighters extended an invitation to Repair division to visit their Times Square fire station for a engine company lunch and tour. Just like part of their family, Carney Sailors and New York City fire fighters sat around a big table, shared stories and ate a traditional New York fire house meal of pasta and fresh bread.
Lunch ended abruptly with an urgent 911 call. Carney Sailors said quick good byes, and the fire fighters rushed out to respond. Repair division took the opportunity to watch the New York City team dress out and speed away in the fire truck.
In the suddenly quiet station, Repair division had a chance to share a few moments by the engine company's own powerful memorial for McCann and Sept. 11.
The most meaningful connection that Carney Sailors were able to renew was with McCann's family, who came aboard on Sept. 11. After receiving word from Company 65 firefighters about McCann's memorial aboard Carney, the family visited and was moved by Carney's tribute to his story and his sacrifice.
They said they were touched that McCann has had such a powerful impact on the spirit of Carney's crew.
McCann's memorial is a permanent tribute to his sacrifice for our nation, a reminder to Carney Sailors that they are aboard a fighting vessel with a spirit of true heroism and bravery.