Scott air tanker crew member takes unique tribute to 9/11 memorial in NYC

News-DemocratSeptember 10, 2013 

— Patrick McCauley, a boom operator on an air tanker based at Scott, traveled to New York City for a unique tribute Wednesday to the victims of Sept. 11.

McCauley, 50, who just returned from a three-month deployment with the 126th Air Refueling Wing at an air base in the Middle East, is bringing with him 30 flags that were flown in combat missions across Afghanistan.

"We've had a waiting line for people to fly them. So it worked out really well," said McCauley, a Chicago Fire Department lieutenant who joined the Air National Guard in 1990.

The flags will be hoisted Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony at the New York Fire Department "Ten House," located across the street from the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial. The firehouse lost six firefighters on Sept. 11, 2001.

Col. Pete Nezamis, the 126th ARW's commander, said he was not surprised to hear of McCauley's role in organizing the flags-based tribute.

"He's very connected with his brothers, the firefighters in New York," Nezamis said. "Just about every time Pat deploys or does things, he thinks about the victims (of 9/11), he thinks about the families, his fellow firefighters who lost their lives."

The ceremony set for Wednesday in New York City will salute Ten House's fallen firefighters, more than 300 other New York firefighters killed on 9/11, along with nearly 3,000 other people killed at the World Trade Center that day and the thousands more American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the years that followed.

The flags hoisted at Ten House will then be distributed to families who lost loved ones in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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