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Ray Downey
Age: 63
Occupation: Chief of Rescue Operations
Worked for: FDNY
Originally from:
Resided in: Deer Park, NY
School:
College:
Submitted by: Irish Tribute ()

Other links: Congressional Hearing

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Daddy you are our Guardian Angel. We miss you and love you. We pray for you everyday.
-- Marie (Daughter)
20 Oct 2001

Poppy you are in my prayers everynight. We love you and miss you.
I know you are watching us at our soccer games. You are the best Poppy
in the world.
-- Gina Marie, Nicolette Rose & Peter Raymond(grandchildren) (Daughter)
20 Oct 2001

My heart goes out to the Downey family during this difficult time of their loss. My prayers are with all of you.

-- Maureen Manion (Friend)
04 Oct 2001

OUR ANGEL

On that dreadful day we huddled in prayer
Hearts joined in sorrow
Pain difficult to bear

Our angels climbed up as they helped others down
The towers may have fallen
But our bravest never touched the ground

They kept soaring up to that heavenly cloud
Shining strength down on us
We are grateful and proud

So please say a prayer
As a tribute to those
Whose love never faltered
And eternally grows

Kathy Downey-Ugalde (daughter)
-- anonymous (Friend)
09 Oct 2001

From NY Times Oct 22

'Firefighter to the Core'

Raymond M. Downey was the battalion chief in charge of special operations in the New York City Fire Department.

Here's his son, Chuck, a fire lieutenant: "Dad joined the Fire Department on April 7, 1962. Coming on in the 60's, they went to a lot of fires. The war years, they termed it. In 1995 he was assigned to Special Operations Command, SOC is the acronym, as chief of rescue operations. . . .

"He was on the Gilmore Commission to fight domestic terrorism. No one's going to see it all, but I don't think anyone thought of the World Trade Center. . . .

"When the south tower went down, there was a lot of Maydays. He survived. A lot of the top brass did. These are all guys with 30- plus years. They went back in. There were two young firemen, he told them, not in the nicest language, to get out of here."

Here's Chief Downey's daughter, Marie Tortorici: "Mommy, Rosalie, is Italian. Daddy's Irish. He would have been 64 on Sept. 19. He's very spiritual. He was in Oklahoma City after the bombing. Gov. Keating gave him a set of rosary beads. He wore them every day. Well, they broke, and he kept them in his pocket. He had them with him, because they're not home. . . .

"When I was a little girl, he was working three jobs to support the family, and he was always too busy to come to the school to do fire prevention week. Last year, when my daughter was in first grade, he went to the school for fire prevention week. I don't know. It's so sad, everything. But a good thing came out of this. My sister, my father called her the baby, we just found out she's pregnant. So she felt like it was a blessing from my father."
-- Anon (Friend)
23 Oct 2001

I can't say enough about the respect and admiration I have for Ray Downey. He was my hero even before Sept 11. He gave all of himself to his country, his city and his department, but he gave even more to his family. His love for his wife, children and grandchildren was immeasurable. I am proud and humbled to have known such a fine man. He represented everything good this country had to offer. My heart will be forever broken for the immense loss of the best we ever had. May God bless the Downey family.
-- Allen Werwa (Friend)
23 Oct 2001

G-d must be smiling now because he has Ray by his side. Ray was a man that stood ten feet tall in the hearts and minds of everyone lucky enough to known him. The love he had for his family was his great gift to them. He is a true hero. The world will never be quite the same again without him and I pray that his family finds comfort knowing that his love surrounds them. He will never be forgotten. May God bless his family always.
-- Bonnie werwa (Friend)
23 Oct 2001

See the F.D.N.Y. Memorial:

http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/fdny/html/memorial/wtc/downey_raymond_bc_soc.html
-- anonymous (Friend)
25 Oct 2001

From NY Post Dec 15, 2001

'NOTABLES TO HONOR CHIEF RESCUE HERO'

The life of Chief Ray Downey, the most decorated firefighter in the land, will be celebrated today at a memorial service attended by top dignitaries and thousands of firefighters from all parts of the United States.
Downey, deputy chief of Special Operations for the FDNY and a nationally recognized expert in rescue and recovery efforts, was lost in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Among the dignitaries traveling to Deer Park, L.I., to pay tribute to the 39-year FDNY veteran are Gov. Pataki, Mayor Giuliani and Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen.

Pataki, in the eulogy he's prepared for the memorial, praises Downey as a hero among heroes:

"Many New Yorkers were surprised to learn Chief Downey was actually in the towers and not coordinating the rescue efforts from a secure location.

"To those who knew him best, this was no surprise. Truly great leaders display the same courage they ask of those they lead."

Downey's five children also will speak, sharing special memories of their courageous father. They are Joe, an FDNY captain; Chuck, an FDNY lieutenant; Kathy Ugalde and Ray Jr., both schoolteachers; and Marie Tortorici, a housewife.

And with their mother, Downey's widow Rosalie, they will offer a special prayer - a poem that was etched on a plaque sent to them by members of a Colorado fire department after the trade center collapse.

Called "The Broken Chain," the poem's author is unknown. It ends with "Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same; but as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again."

One of those unable to attend the service is Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who befriended Downey in 1995 when the FDNY chief flew to Oklahoma City after the bombing of the Murrah federal building. Downey helped shore up the collapsed structure so rescue and recovery operations could get under way.

Keating, who is recovering from back surgery, sent a top aide, the Oklahoma City fire chief and a contingent of firefighters to the memorial to represent him.
-- Anon (Friend { })
15 Dec 2001

Poppy you were the greatest Poppy in the world and you still are.I remember when you use to come to every one of my soccer games, you use to stand at the corner of the field and tell me what to do and sometimes I wouldn't listen.Sorry!!but most of the time I would listen to you I would do what you say and it always use to work no matter what happened.I LOVE YOU so much POPPY!!!! I just can't belive you're gone it all happened so fast.And did you know that it takes sombody very important to be a Deputy Chief,but nobody in the world can be my very own POPPY.You'll always be my very favorite POPPY.I LOVE YOU!! FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!! its gonna be hard very hard to live my life without you.BYEE!!!GONNA MISS YOU!!I KNOW YOU ARE ALWAYS WATCHING OVER ME YOU ARE MY GAURDIAN ANGEL!!and you'll always be watching over Nanny and everybody else.bye POPPY!!!GONNA MISS YOU!!

Gina Tortorici-8-1st(first)granddaughter
-- anonymous (Friend {})
09 Jan 2002

Poppy you were the greatest Poppy in the world and you still are.I remember when you use to come to every one of my soccer games, you use to stand at the corner of the field and tell me what to do and sometimes I wouldn't listen.Sorry!!but most of the time I would listen to you I would do what you say and it always use to work no matter what happened.I LOVE YOU so much POPPY!!!! I just can't belive you're gone it all happened so fast.And did you know that it takes sombody very important to be a Deputy Chief,but nobody in the world can be my very own POPPY.You'll always be my very favorite POPPY.I LOVE YOU!! FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!! its gonna be hard very hard to live my life without you.BYEE!!!GONNA MISS YOU!!I KNOW YOU ARE ALWAYS WATCHING OVER ME YOU ARE MY GAURDIAN ANGEL!!and you'll always be watching over Nanny and everybody else.bye POPPY!!!GONNA MISS YOU!!

Gina Tortorici-8-1st(first)granddaughter
-- anonymous (Friend {})
09 Jan 2002

HI POPPY I JUST WANTED YOU TO NOW I SILL LOVE YOU OK I REMEBER WHAN YOU TOLD ME APRIL 7TH WAS A VERY SPECIAL DAY AND I REMEBER MY BIRTHDAY BECAUSE I LIKE THAT DAY THATS HOW I REMEBER YOU AND I LOVE THAT DAY I MISS YOU AND NANNY MISS YOU TO AND EVERBODDY TO MISS YOU AND IT TAKES SOMEONE VERY SPECIAL TO BE IN S.O.C AND I MISS YOU VERY VERY MACH I LOVE YOU.
-- NICOLETTE AGE 6 (Friend {2ND GRANDDAUGHTER})
10 Jan 2002

Albany Times Union, April 15, 2002

Some New York City firefighters sought comfort in each other's arms as their former deputy chief posthumously received the first Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award at a dinner Saturday night.

Downey's family accepted the award bearing his name during a dinner concluding the largest gathering of firefighters since Sept. 11.

Downey, the chief of special operations command and New York City's most decorated firefighter, was killed during the rescue effort after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

He had responded to earthquakes, hurricanes and airplane crashes before, and was one of the first firefighters on the scene that day.

The gold medal and $50,000 award are honors Downey would have been reluctant to accept, his family said.

"Because he was very humble, he'd probably say, 'All right, that's enough.' But deep down inside, he'd be proud,'' said his daughter, Marie Tortorici.

Downey, who was 63 when he died, was a firefighter for nearly 40 years. An expert in urban search and rescue, he led a team of New York City firefighters who responded to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

"It's a bittersweet moment for me,'' said Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who presented the award.

Keating, who called Downey a true friend, said Downey helped shore up the tottering Murrah Federal Building so rescue and recovery operations could proceed.

"Ray was a hugely successful human being,'' Keating said. "I was always fascinated by people like Downey, who would rush in when others would not.''

For Downey's family, the award ensures a legacy that began too soon.

"I wish he was here to accept it,'' said his son, Capt. Joe Downey, also a New York firefighter. "He's been to this show so many times as a firefighter. It's an honor for us to have it in his name.''

Organizers said the weeklong Fire Department Instructors Conference was the largest gathering of firefighters since the attacks. About 25,000 firefighters attended the conference and about 540 attended the dinner.

The conference and PenWell Corporation, which owns the magazine Fire Engineering, jointly established the Courage and Valor Foundation, which plans to honor a firefighter annually for his or her courage.

The foundation is in memory of the 343 firefighters who died on Sept. 11. It has raised $400,000 of a $1 million goal and plans to award the income from the fund each year, said Robert Biolchini, president and CEO of Tulsa-based Penwell.
-- Anon (Friend { })
15 Apr 2002

I had the honor of sitting near the Downey family at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Washington. What a beautiful and loving family. They should know that they are an inspiration to all of us whose hearts remain wounded. God Bless.
-- Anon. (Friend {In Appreciation})
28 Oct 2002

Mr D,
Even though you are not here in body, your spirit lives on in everyone of us that you've touched. Thank you for being such a great man whose modesty was a true testament to your valor!
Your presence is still felt and I often wonder if you are laughing with that snort like chuckle up in heaven at us! I PROMISE to keep those coors lights cold for you!
Til we meet again.......
-- anonymous (Friend {Family Friend})
03 Dec 2002

Ray, You were an inspiration to me. I'm a better chief today because of you. Your life gives me something to shoot for, although I'll never reach your greatness. Manys the nights when my brother and sister firefighters lift a glass in your honor. Rest well my friend, I'll see ya on the "big" one.
-- Chief47A PGFD (Maryland) (Friend {Brother Firefighter})
07 Sep 2004

My father is a Los Angeles City Firefighter and about two years ago I received a metal wristband made from the World Trade Center with Chief Ray Downey's name and his rank on it. I will always keep the band, and I respect what he did during the 9/11 attack. I will always keep Chief Downey in my thoughts.
-- Sarah H. (Friend {})
21 Apr 2005

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