NEW YORK -- Nearly six months after terrorists brought down the World Trade Center, the bodies of two police officers were discovered in the rubble and removed from the site draped in American flags, officials said.
The bodies of Officer John Perry and Sgt. Michael Curtin, who were among 23 New York Police Department officers killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, were taken from the site Wednesday night, said police Emergency Services Unit Officer James McEniry.
Former comrades, including Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, helped remove the bodies.
Curtin, 45, a former Marine, had gone to Oklahoma City in 1995 to help dig for victims in the rubble of the bombed federal building.
Perry, 38, was an accidental hero on Sept. 11. He had gone to police headquarters in lower Manhattan to sign retirement papers that morning. Schooled as an attorney, he was planning to join a law firm, but as word of the attacks spread he rushed out with his colleagues.
Police department spokesman Sgt. Ralph Carone said early Thursday that the department had not confirmed the identities of the bodies and was waiting for word from the medical examiner's office.
Marine Maj. David Andersen said that after the Oklahoma City bombing, Curtin spent seven hours pulling out the body of a fellow Marine he found.
"He was a legend in the Marines," Andersen said. "We wanted to do for him what he did for this Marine. It was an absolute honor to represent my country and New York City by carrying his body out."
Curtin's body was wrapped with an American flag that flew in Kuwait during the Gulf War, in which he fought.
McEniry, who had known Curtin for 15 years, said he talked to his friend on Sept. 11 before hijacked jetliners crashed into the twin towers. He said Curtin was last seen helping with the evacuation of a building in the trade center complex.
Perry attended law school with John F. Kennedy Jr. and spoke three or four languages, said Officer Robert McLaren, who went to Police Academy with him and had known him for eight years.
"He was a brilliant guy," McLaren said.