Michael O’Connell: Former firefighter makes appeal for stolen 9/11 helmet

Helmet was stolen from New York home

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The Independent US

It was the helmet that he wore on the day that horror struck.

Bearing the ladder company number 142 and badge 4073, former firefighter Michael O’Connell treasured the helmet that he wore when and his colleagues responded to the attacks of September 11. Then it was stolen by burglars.

This week, Mr O’Connell, who was forced to retire on grounds of ill-health, posted another Facebook message about the theft and was stunned by the response.

More than 180,000 shared his request for information and his appeal sparked interest from around the world.

“I know it’s a long shot, but if enough people share it, maybe it turns up or is sent back so I can keep it in my family,” he wrote.

The appeal sparked a strong response, with people from around the world offering suggestions, tips and promising to spread the world.

The helmet has not shown up yet, but Mr O’Connell, who returned in 2009 after being diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease prevalent in 9/11 responders, is hopeful.

“This is something that’s dear to my heart. It’s a piece of history. It belongs to my children,” the 39-year-old told the New York Daily News.

“It's something every firefighter wants to hold on to. You spend your whole life in the department, your whole career with this piece of equipment. It’s protected you in some of the hardest and scariest situations of your life.”