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FDNY Viking Association dedicates bell to members lost on 9/11

Second annual Viking Regatta sailboat race honors fallen brothers - Sunday, August 9, 2003. 

Six Staten Island members of the Fire Department's Viking Association, who died Sept. 11, 2001, were remembered yesterday when a Viking "Bell of Remembrance" was dedicated at the Richmond County Yacht Club. 

A 200pound golden bell, cast with the six firefighters' names, was given to the Viking Association as a gift from the "Bell of Remembrance" Project associated with the Franciscans of Wilmington, the McShane Bell Foundry and the Wilmington, DelawareWilmington (Del.) Fire Department. 

"We gather here for four reasons to remember, to dedicate, bless and to celebrate," said Brother David Schlatter, chaplain of the Wilmington Fire Department, who christened the bell. "We gather here to remember those who perished on that fateful day nearly two years ago. We could not and we will not ever forget them." 

The bell was dedicated in memory of Arthur Barry and Eric Olsen, of Ladder Co. 15; Joseph Ogren, of Ladder Co. 3; John Bergin, of Rescue Co. 5; Dennis O'Berg, of Ladder Co. 105 and James Riches, of Engine Co. 4. 

"As we christen this bell, in the name of these six men, these six firefighters, we ask their blessing as well and their protection of us," he said. 

The bell will be placed on Olsen's antique fire engine, currently being restored by the Milford, Township, Pennsylvania Fire Department and will participate in parades and firefighter funerals, said Richard Dischinger, chairman of the regatta.

A Bell of Remembrance was tolled in four sets of five rings, which is customary when a firefighter dies. Also, the Viking Bell was tolled once for each of the six Viking Association members who perished. 

"We can never forget this devastation inflicted on our nation by this cowardly act," said Viking president Edward Thompson, who said it's important to remember the "six fallen Viking brothers" and all those who died in the World Trade Center attacks. The Viking Association consists of 400 active and retired firefighters, throughout the city, who are of Scandinavian descent. 

Twenty boats participated in the regatta course, which began at Orchard Lighthouse, went past Sandy Hook, N.J., then to the Rockaways and back again.  

The race was held for the first time last year and will become an annual event, Dischinger said. 

"Its the yachting community's way of saying we'll never forget," he said. 

Commodore John R. Birstler, of the yacht club, said the event a way to honor "the heroes of our nation's freedom. 

"Today we're racing for more than a mere trophy and a day of sailing on the bay," he said. "We sail to honor and show respect to our fallen heroes."
 
Reprint of Staten Island Advance Article 8/10/2003
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