The Chief
October 23, 2009

Cops’ Kids Feel Residual Effects of Post-9/11 Work

10 Added to NYPD Wall

By Tommy Hallissey

DAD TAKEN TOO SOON: Seven-year-old Garrett Helmke stands near the Police Memorial Wall after his father, Robert, had his name inscribed there as one of 10 cops honored for dying of illnesses related to their recovery work at Ground Zero.    
The Chief-Leader/Michel Friang

DAD TAKEN TOO SOON: Seven-year-old Garrett Helmke stands near the Police Memorial Wall after his father, Robert, had his name inscribed there as one of 10 cops honored for dying of illnesses related to their recovery work at Ground Zero.

 

As the years leap forward from 9/11, the pain continues to grow for the second wave of children scarred by the terrorist attacks: those like Garrett Helmke, 7, who lost his father to an illness related to the recovery work at Ground Zero that was done before he was born.

“It’s an honor to be here and have my husband’s name on the wall and especially to bring my children here,” said Greta Helmke, the mother of deceased Police Officer Robert B. Helmke’s two children. “When he died, they were so little.”

Garrett, who lost his father more than two years ago, ran through the park wearing his father’s police hat. He is still too young to grapple with the enormity of the pain brought on by the terrorist attacks.

10 Added to Police Wall

Police Officer Helmke spent 12 years serving the Department in its Transit Bureau, 104th Precinct and Medical Division. He was recognized for meritorious police duty and is survived by his mother Kathleen, his wife and son, daughter Amelia and siblings Janet and Keith.

He was honored along with nine other deceased members of the Police Department who died after contracting illnesses while aiding the recovery effort at Ground Zero and at Fresh Kills landfill as Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly spoke during a ceremony Oct. 13 at the Police Memorial Wall in Battery Park.

    HONOR ARRIVES BUT PAIN LINGERS: Eddie Tracy said that honoring his late wife, Sgt. Claire T. Hanrahan, ‘doesn’t remove any of the pain’ left by her premature death.
  The Chief-Leader/Michel Friang

HONOR ARRIVES BUT PAIN LINGERS: Eddie Tracy said that honoring his late wife, Sgt. Claire T. Hanrahan, ‘doesn’t remove any of the pain’ left by her premature death.

Mr. Bloomberg talked of how the city must honor the sacrifice of the officers. “We pledge to carry on the mission that they so bravely advanced, and to protect our city against all the perils it may face,” he said in front of the wall, which bears the names of all city cops who have died in the line of duty since 1849. “We also must urge Congress to pass the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would provide for necessary research, monitoring and treatment for first responders.”

The number of NYPD officers who die from Ground Zero-related illnesses will soon eclipse the 23 police officers killed on 9/11. So far, the names of 18 of the second wave of 9/11 deaths have been added to the Police Memorial Wall.

‘Became Casualties, Too’

“The addition today of these officers underscores the reality that this tragedy is something the department and city will endure for a long time to come,” Mr. Kelly said at the ceremony.

“Men and women of different ranks and commands united in a common mission to aid in the recovery effort,” he said. “They brought closure to the loved one of those who were killed and restored order. But they too became casualties.”

Family members in attendance like Eddie Tracy, whose wife, Sgt. Claire T. Hanrahan, was honored, found the ceremony touching but unable to make up for the hole left in his life. “It doesn’t remove any of the pain,” he said after the ceremony. “There are no words to describe it. She got a death sentence.”

A sentence that, he believes, will be spread to other police families. “Unfortunately, there are a lot more coming down the road,” Mr. Tracy said.

Earlier this month, three first responders succumbed to Ground Zerorelated illnesses in a five-day period, with the Mayor acknowledging that they probably died from breathing the air at Ground Zero.

The 10 officers added to the wall are deemed to have died as a result of a recovery effort illness, according to some observers, but the city continues to insert the word “may” into its statements, even though their demises are now considered line-of-duty deaths.

Had Distinguished Careers

Captain Edward C. Gilpin, who served the NYPD for 32 years before his retirement in 2002, was recognized four times in his career for excellent and meritorious police duty. He served as Executive Officer of the 9th Precinct and the Manhattan South Task Force, as well as working in the Brooklyn Housing Bureau. He is survived by his wife, Mary Jane, and son, Michael.

Sergeant Hanrahan received eight medals for excellent and meritorious police duty during her 20-year career with the NYPD, during which she served in the 19th, 23rd and 25th Precincts. She is survived by her parents, Matthew and Claire; and her husband and children Justin, Shannon and Kyle.

Sgt. Michael W. Ryan was a 20-year member of the Department with nine recognitions for excellent and meritorious police duty. He was a member of several Detectives Squads, in the 104th, 112th, 114th and 115th Precincts. During his career Sgt. Ryan made nearly 100 arrests, more than half of which were for felony crimes. He is survived by his parents, Jim and Ann, wife Eileen, sons Liam and Aiden, and daughters Erin and Casey.

Intelligence Division Vet

Sgt. Edward D. Thompson served the NYPD for nearly 16 years, in the 6th and 120th Precincts and the Intelligence Division Operations and Analysis Section. Sgt. Thompson is survived by his parents, George and Deborah; wife, Justine, and four daughters, Jaqueline, Emily, Madison and Abigail.

Det. Sandra Y. Adrian was a 19- year member of the department with six medals for excellent and meritorious police duty. Before her death in 2006, she served in the Housing and Internal Affairs bureaus. She is survived by her brother, Jaime, and sister Liz.

Det. William J. Holfester was recognized 11 times for excellent and meritorious police duty during his 18-year career. His work against narcotics crimes in upper Manhattan included 380 arrests, 213 of which were for felonies. Detective Holfester also served in the 81st Precinct. He is survived by his mother Marion, sister Cynthia, wife Michelle and daughter Marissa, son Chris, and three grandchildren: Olivia, Christopher and Gabriel.

Det. Roberto L. Rivera served the Department for nearly 30 years, and received eight medals for excellent and meritorious police duty. He was a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Detectives Bureau Special Investigations Division, and Arson and Explosions Division. Detective Rivera is survived by his wife, Aida; sons Marcus and Roberto; and daughter Doraida.

Others Honored

Police Officer Madeline Carlo worked for 15 years in the Housing Bureau and Police Service Areas 5 and 7, in Manhattan and the South Bronx. She is survived by her mother Maria, children Cynthia and Orlando, and siblings Olga, Mike, Yvonne and Raymond.

Police Officer Patrice M. Ott was a 20-year veteran of the Department who served in the 52nd Precinct, Mounted Unit and Property Clerk. A recipient of recognition for excellent police duty, Officer Ott is survived by her mother Maureen, husband Bill, son Ryan and two brothers, Mike and John.