Kevin O'Rourke, traveling on Black Hawk helipcopter, Haiti 2010.

Kevin O’Rourke, traveling on Black Hawk helipcopter, Haiti 2010.

Dear Members and Supporters,

It is with great sadness that I write today that our good friend and H.E.A.R.T. 9/11 colleague Ret. NYPD ESU Sgt. Kevin O’Rourke was killed on Saturday, September 29, 2012, while working as a military consultant in Afghanistan. NY Daily News  As with so many of the friendships in HEART 9/11, I met Kevin a couple of days after the 9/11 attacks while working with him on the pile. Kevin, a true professional, an expert in search and rescue, quickly became a trusted resource for me and the PAPD. I was introduced to Kevin by his close friend and our Vice President, John Moran. Kevin had stayed in touch with our Executive Board member Tony Sanpietro by phone from his outposts in Afghanistan.

The supervisors of the uniformed services during the WTC rescue/recovery mission created a mantra that those involved with driving the planes into our towers would not take one more casualty during the recovery mission. In spite of the dangerous work environment, we all worked very hard to ensure the safety of all the workers during that mission. When we marched up the steel bridge for the final walk out behind the Last Piece of Steel and an empty stokes basket, we were all proud that we had kept our word that not one more good person was lost to the terrorists. The news from Afghanistan on Saturday was devastating to all of us who loved Kevin; they took one of our best.

If you knew Kevin, you knew that when a call went out from the military that they needed experienced law enforcement professionals to assist the troops with investigations in Iraq and again in Afghanistan, Kevin did not hesitate. He felt it was his duty to help the military, who are performing so heroically in the defense of our country. Kevin loved his country and the men and women who defend it.

Kevin was one of the founding members of H.E.A.R.T. 9/11. He responded to the Ninth Ward of New Orleans on our first deployment in December of 2007 following Hurricane Katrina. It was Kevin who decided that the twelve homes we completed in one week wouldn’t be ready for the families until each had a Christmas tree in the family room. That’s Kevin: a tough guy with a big heart. Kevin led teams into Port Au Prince, Haiti, following the 2010 earthquake. His knowledge and expertise were critical as we navigated a very dangerous terrain with a devastated frightened population. The safety of the teams that Kevin led was never in doubt.

For Kevin’s close friends and I, I think I can speak for all of us, that I shook with anger at the news of his killing. It took me back eleven years, standing a block from the fallen towers, hearing for the first time, the names of my friends who were murdered. This is just so hard to process; no, not Kevin.

Kevin leaves behind two children Kevin Jr. and Kaitlin. He is also survived by his brother, Barry. We have been in touch with Barry and when Kevin’s arrangements are made we will share them with our members.

Bill Keegan

Founder/President H.E.A.R.T. 9/11