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John Ahearn
  Irish Voice   2001-11-08 00:00:00+00

NYPD Detective, stationed at the Arson and Explosion Squad at Police Headquarters

Grandparents emigrated from Co Cork. Resides in Yorktown Heights.

Wife Barbara; daughter Hayley Kathleen, 7; son John Ryan, 22 months.

NYPD background
"I became a cop in the summer of 1987. I always wanted to be a cop since I was a little kid - maybe from watching too much TV! At the end of college I joined up and I've loved it. I've jumped around a lot - I was in housing, then I was in narcotics, then missing persons and how I'm here."

Describe your September 11 experience
"It was primary day in the city and I assigned election duty. I didn't have to be in work until 12:30. I was home, and my wife called to tell me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I turned on the TV and saw it, but I knew I'd be down there digging as my unit handles fires and explosions so I put on my jumpsuit. As I was driving down I heard about the collapses on the news, but was stuck in traffic.

"It was just surreal. I parked my car by headquarters, and I walked to the scene. As I came down Broadway it went from being a sunny day to almost black. People were coughing and looking lost; it's just so hard to describe. And when I saw the buildings I couldn't get over it. There aren't any words to describe it.

"I got there about a half hour after the second building collapsed. I went right to the scene and tried to hook up with guys from my team. A few guys were missing in the beginning, so our initial mission was to try and find them. We did, and then we just started digging. It's a dangerous job, but we didn't think about it. We just wanted to get started."

What have you been doing since September 11?
"We just got pulled out last week because of the cutting down. I was down there pretty much every day; I think I've had five or six days off since it happened.

"I told anyone who had family who were lost there to come and see it for closure. There was no way that anyone could have survived. In the beginning people thought there was hope, but I just thought that they should've gone down to see for themselves how horrific it was."

How do you feel about your job?
"I'm very proud to be a NYPD officer. It's something I always wanted to do, and I'm in a unit that does a lot of good. Now people have seen the amount of good that we can do. I'm very happy where I am."

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