WESTBURY - A retired FDNY firefighter from Westbury who was on hand during the Sept. 11 attacks is hoping to have his stolen fire helmet returned.

Michael O'Connell made a plea in a Facebook post, "This was my FDNY helmet I wore my entire career including 9/11/01. It was stolen from my home a while back. I know it's a long shot but if enough people share maybe it turns up or is sent back so I can keep it in my family!"

It's been three years since O'Connell has seen his helmet. He says someone stole it from his home while the family was renovating. It's a treasured part of his personal history as a firefighter, right down to the numbers above the brim.

"One is my shield number which was 4073. And the other was the company that I was assigned to during that picture, which was Ladder 142," said O'Connell.

Since he made the Facebook post, O'Connell has reached upward of 8 million people within 24 hours.

"I don't hold any grudges. Just bring it back. Bring it back to my children," he told News 12. "Let them have a piece of me as a fireman again."

O'Connell retired from the FDNY in 2009. He has three young children.