TWO South Yorkshire firefighters are joining thousands of emergency workers on a motorbike trip in America to mark the 10th anniversary this Sunday of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Crew manager Richard Barr, based at Maltby fire station, and firefighter Jason Jenkinson, based at Sheffield’s Central station, will travel from Chicago to New York to attend a memorial service at Ground Zero - the site of the former World Trade Centre where thousands lost their lives when two passenger planes were hijacked and flown into the iconic ‘twin towers’ in 2001.
Richard and Jason, both Harley Davidson enthusiasts, will join hundreds of other colleagues, police officers and health workers on the annual memorial road trip. The pair are part of a group of 33 UK firefighters who flew out to America at the weekend. They are planning to leave the Chicago Red Sox stadium today to arrive at Ground Zero, New York, on Sunday.
A total of 343 firefighters and 60 police officers were among the thousands who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.
Richard said: “By the time we reach New York there’ll be thousands of us biking en masse into New York city.
“It’s a real privilege to be part of such a huge event, and I’m sure the memorial service itself will be a very emotional occasion, especially for the New York firefighters we’ll be with.”
Jason added: “It will be great to represent South Yorkshire’s firefighters over there and to meet firefighters from all over the world.
“We’ve both had to save around £3,500 to fund the trip, but I’m sure it will be worth every penny.”
The memorial service will begin at Ground Zero on September 11 at the exact time the first tower was struck.
Among those killed was Sheffield man Nigel Thompson, aged 33, who was working as a successful banker when the World Trade Centre was targeted.
He managed to speak to his twin brother Neil, also a banker in New York, to inform him of the attack. “We are under attack, we are evacuating now” were the last words he spoke to his brother before the line went dead.
Nigel, a former pupil of Tapton School in Crosspool, was working on the 105th floor of the first tower.
He had been due to celebrate his first wedding anniversary the following month.
The high-flyer was the son of retired police officer and coroner’s officer Norman Thompson and his wife Pat, who plan to mark the anniversary by remembering their son at home.
Mr Thompson said: “We will be doing something quiet at home and we have had a bench erected on the moors nearby where the boys walked when they were children.
“Nigel once said to his brother that when he died he wanted his ashes scattered there.
“We had some simulated ashes from the rubble at the Ground Zero site and we put them there because they never found his body.”
n See Friday’s Star for a 9/11 special