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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 24, 2024


Dec. 20, 2001 – Crucian businessman Chuck Ulrich put out a call for help in his ongoing efforts to bring New York City firefighters to the Virgin Islands for a relaxing vacation, and St. Thomas senator Carlton Dowe has answered it.
A career fireman and graduate of the National Fire Academy who became the youngest person ever to serve as fire chief of the St. Thomas-St. John district, Dowe brightened at the prospect of lending a hand. "I'll be happy to do anything I can," he said. "Just let me know what."
And Ulrich is more than happy to comply with that request.
Ulrich, who owns Blue Water Travel on St. Croix, is the driving force behind a project in progress to bring New York firefighters who worked at the World Trade Center to the territory for some rest and relaxation. Thanksgiving week, he and a host of other St. Croix business people, including Carl Gotts of Gotts Insurance and his wife, Marti, entertained five firefighters and their families — 22 people altogether.
So far, Ulrich has another 85 people, firefighters and their families, booked for visits into November of next year. While the November visitors stayed on St. Croix, others will be taking a look at St. Thomas and St. John, too.
Dowe has signed on to get some St. Thomas firefighters to join him as a welcoming committee for Kimberly and Keith Murphy on Jan. 19 when they reach St. Thomas via the V.I. Fast Ferry from St. Croix. The Murphys will spend the night on St. Thomas, where they already have hotel and dining accommodations, then leave the next day for a two-day stay on St. John, after which they'll return to St. Croix.
Dowe told Ulrich he will see to the couple's ground transport on St. Thomas and St. John and ferry transportation to and from St. John. And he will pick up from then on with the ensuing visits of the firefighters throughout the year.
He may get to welcome the first St. Thomas firefighter to take part in the program in April or May. Vivian Lomacang, a native St. Thomian, is an EMT — emergency medical technician– with the New York Fire Department. Lomacang, who was on the scene at the WTC from day one, responded to Ulrich's invitation, which he sent to the NYFD's Family Crisis Center. She told Ulrich that she is "really in need of a rest."
The invitation to New York's firefighters also is being extended on the Internet at a web site that includes acknowledgment of the sponsorships, contributions and volunteer efforts that are making the project possible. The site, www.st-croix.net/firemen.html, also includes a gallery of photographs taken while the first wave of firefighters was visiting St. Croix in November. The photo at the top of this story is from that collection.

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