As the casket was carried out of the church, a group of New Orleans firefighters wearing dress blues snapped to attention and saluted, choking back tears.
Despite their uniforms, the hero they were honoring was not a member of their ranks. At least not officially.
Gerry Crimmins, 51, was a New Yorker who came to New Orleans after the federal levee failures and Hurricane Katrina and managed to help rebuild 11 of the 22 firehouses damaged in the storm while bureacrats dithered.
He died Oct. 21 of liver cancer.
“Gerry became one of us,” said NOFD Assistant Superintendent Timothy McConnell, one of several local firefighters who flew to New York City to pay tribute. “I don’t know how we could have kept this department together morale-wise if our guys were still working out of trailers.”
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