WESTBURY, Long Island — It’s the helmet that Michael O’Connell wore his entire career, including during the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
O’Connell retired after becoming sick from the toxic World Trade Center dust, but he held onto his helmet as a keepsake, a piece of history to pass on to his children. But in 2013, it was stolen during a break-in at his Westbury, Long Island home, which was under construction at the time. He filed a police report, but had no luck. Now, O’Connell has turned to Facebook in an effort to locate the treasured piece of FDNY gear.
“They took a lot from the home, but also included was various fire dept. memorabilia, along with my 9/11 medals. I would love to get the helmet back!” O’Connell wrote.
After posting a photo Tuesday morning of the black-and-red helmet with the big, white 142 on the front, his plea for its return has been shared more than 100,000 times by people across the world.
“Your post has made it to Australia, and is being shared by many . . . many of us have family and friends in The States so hopefully with everyone’s efforts your helmet will return to you,” wrote Maxine Nunn.
Some scoured eBay and other auction sites, while others vowed to pray to St. Anthony, patron saint of lost and stolen articles.
O’Connell says he could care less about the other things taken during the robbery, and wrote on Facebook, “I know it’s a long shot but if enough people share maybe it turns up or is sent back so I can keep it in my family! Thanks!”