Many of you have been following the Tour of Duty Run in its travels from Santa Monica Pier to Manhattan. The group of firefighters and other first responders from Australia and the United States left California on August 12 and are scheduled to arrive in New York on Saturday, September 11, having run through 20 states in 31 days. Very early on Labor Day morning the town of Emmitsburg, Maryland welcomed them for a visit to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.
After getting some rest at the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company they had a late breakfast at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation chapel. NFFF Executive Director Ron Siarnicki, Interim United States Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines, Emmitsburg Mayor Jim Hoover, Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young, Maryland State Firemens Association First Vice President David Lewis and IAFF Local 3666 President John Neary were all on hand to greet the group.
As part of their efforts to honor the sacrifices made on September 11, 2001, the Tour of Duty Run members placed a wreath at the Memorial. Here are excerpts from Reporter Pamela Rigaux’s story in the Frederick News-Post:
Their coast-to-coast journey is to commemorate emergency personnel and victims who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The group of 36 is raising money for a variety of charities including the Tribute WTC Visitor Center, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, among others.
“When you’re running through the desert, everything seems quite distant,” said Michael Jones, a firefighter from Melbourne, Australia. “Things are becoming a lot more closer, a lot more personal.”
Jones said a team of American firefighters is with the Australians, but the concept of the cross-country run originated in Melbourne.
His colleague, Paul Ritchie, put out a call to every fire station in Australia for participation. They got sponsors and teamed with American firefighters.
The run is relay style. The firefighters are split into groups of 12 that go for six hours then break, Jones said.
Runners are staying in mobile homes along on route, but the air conditioning in the mobile units broke down, Australian firefighter Ben Erickson said.
“We were in 95 degree heat in Vegas, Phoenix, pretty much all the way to Texas.”
The Tour of Duty Run is headed to Washington, DC today and tomorrow.