Biker firefighters head to New York for 9/11 tribute

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Firefighters from all over the region are getting in on a 10-year anniversary tribute to their fallen brothers in New York.

Local 48 rolled out the red carpet for firefighters from Lexington, Louisville, Indiana and here in Ohio.

They had a rain-soaked start on their Harleys, but left Cincinnati well-fed and ready for the rest of their journey.

Milton Hettinger wiped the rain off his soaked head. He'd just driven in from Louisville.

"Well, I'm part of the dive team in Louisville," he joked. "So I'm used to getting wet."

Hettinger is a 20-year career firefighter.

"Can't wait to get to New York," he said.

"We are accumulating firefighters from all over Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio," he said. "And by the time we get to New York, we've estimated we're going to have between 3 to 5-thousand bikes."

Including a special Harley Davidson dedicated to his dad.

"Course, he's still around," said Hettinger. "But years ago, my father always wanted a Harley, and of course, my mom would never let him get one."

Now, with double knee replacements, driving a bike is out of the question for his dad, but not riding in one.

"I had a sidecar built for it, and he rides with me," said Hettinger.

And on the gas tank, a special 9/11 tribute.

"You'll see a replica of the World Trade Center and all the fallen firefighter's names from New York City," he said.

They were greeted with sizzling sausages and scrambled eggs and plenty of hot coffee.

"And giving them a chance to dry out before they head out," said Fire Chief Richard Braun.

They're fueling-up for a long trek, from Louisville and Lexington, to Newburgh, New York.

"Got a little wet," laughed17-year firefighter Ryan Hogsten of Lexington, who calls it an honor to be a part of this convoy.

"Those guys gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Hogsten. "They didn't think twice about going into any of the buildings."

He said no one thought twice about taking this ride to honor them.

"It's a great honor to be able to have a piece of the towers here," Chief Braun said.

He proudly unveiled a treasured piece of twisted metal, one of the beams from the World Trade Center. It will stay with Local 48.

"As you know, it's looked upon as hallowed ground now and kind of sacred, the pieces that come from there," said Braun.

"A sense of brotherhood between all of us that's always there in the fire department," said Jana Allee from Lexington. "To put together a ride like this, and have thousands of people join us, is absolutely, probably one of the most heartfelt things I've ever done in my life."

Allee said seeing the beam and all of her friends on this journey, is definitely an inspiration to get there, no matter what.

"If it rains it rains, if it shines, it shines," she laughed. "We'll end-up in New York eventually."

Hopefully they'll all make it safely to Newburgh and have some time to dry out before ceremonies this Sunday, September 11.

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