Band of Dads

Jim Riches
September 11, 2001

Jim Riches
FDNY fireman Jimmy Riches, Jr., a former NYPD officer, was preparing to celebrate his 30th birthday with his family on September 12, 2001.Terrorists took that away from him on September 11, a day that his father, FDNY Battalion Chief Jim Riches, will never forget. March 25, 2002 is another day that Chief Riches will never forget. I had the honor of working with Chief Riches, known as "Big Daddy" by his friends, for many months at the WTC site. I knew he had been looking for his missing son, Jimmy, Jr., ever since September 11, but we never really discussed it. He was usually quiet and deep in thought if he wasn't busy overseeing the day's tasks. Only once did he open up and tell me, "I want to be here and I know my son would want me here.There's no other place I should be. I know if I was missing, my son would be here for the long haul also." Chief Riches and his three other sons, Timmy, aged 30, Danny, aged 20 and Thomas, aged 17 spent March 25, 2002 attending his grandmother's funeral. She was buried on her 95th birthday, the same day as Timmy's 30th birthday. After the funeral, Chief Riches and his family decided to drive by his grandmother's house one more time.

As he did, he received a call on his cell phone from Chief Dan Melia at Ground Zero. Jimmy, Jr., had been found in the North Tower area. Later, as his three sons stood at the top of the pit, Chief Riches walked to the North Tower rubble to see his fallen son. On a day filled with more emotion than can be imagined, Chief Riches and his sons would walk Jimmy, Jr., outof the hole with honors. In this photograph, Chief Jim Riches, wearing his son's shirt from Ladder 114, holds his Battalion Chief's helmet alongside his son's helmet, which was found next to him on March 25. Chief Riches was instrumental in helping me attain many images at the WTC site and for that I will always be thankful.
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