New York Daily News

March 8, 2002

2 Cops Remembered for Talent, Humanity

One was known in the Police Department as a man of many talents — a speaker of five languages, a marathon runner, actor and lawyer.

The other was a sergeant and former Marine skilled at rescues and revered in the Corps for his heroism at the Oklahoma City bombing site.

Officer John Perry and Sgt. Michael Curtin died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 — and now, six months later, their bodies were found in the rubble and identified yesterday.

Police Inspector Timothy Pearson, who ran into the north tower with Perry, 38, helped carry out his body Wednesday night, then broke the news to his mother on Long Island.

"I hugged her and I told her that I know I went in with him and I was able to bring him out," said Pearson.

Sept. 11 was supposed to be Perry's last day in the NYPD. That morning he was at Police Headquarters, applying for retirement after eight years to join a law firm. Instead, he rushed out to the World Trade Center.

"That was John, he wouldn't do anything else," said his mother, Patricia. "In fact, he was urged not to run down there. He was just compelled to go."

Friends said Perry crammed several lifetimes into his 38 years. Tall, engaging and athletic, he got bit parts on TV and in films and had run in three marathons. He earned a law degree at New York University. 2 special flags Two special American flags were part of the ceremony when Curtin, 45, an Emergency Service Unit sergeant, was carried out in front of his widow, Helga, also a former Marine.

"As much emotion as it was in finding him, there was really a sense of release and thank God," said Inspector Ronald Wasson, commander of the ESU.

Curtin, a Marine sergeant major, became a legend among fellow leathernecks for his work at the Oklahoma City bombing site.

Spotting the body of a Marine sergeant buried in the destroyed federal building, Curtin spent seven hours digging him out.

"Tradition has it we never leave any of our brothers behind. He went after him full force," said Marine Maj. David Andersen.

Now Curtin was the Marine lost among terrorism's rubble, and Andersen was determined to be at Ground Zero when his body was pulled out.

He made sure one of the Trade Center American flags - signed by the ESU cops and hoisted by the Marines in Afghanistan - was unfurled when Curtin's remains were carried out in a solemn procession led by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Curtin had also served with the Marine Reserves in Operation Desert Storm, so a second American flag that had flown in Kuwait was wrapped around his body.