NYC firefighters remembered by name in South Korea

NYC firefighters remembered by name in South Korea

by Mathew Gleeson
U. S. Army

CAMP WALKER, Republic of Korea — Hundreds of U.S. Army Garrison Daegu community members gathered to honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks during a remembrance ceremony and run Sept. 12 at Camp Walker's Fire Station.

"Your presence reminds us all of how important this day is in our history to remember and reflect," said Mike Diehl, USAG Daegu Fire and Emergency Services fire chief.

Diehl noted how nearly 3,000 victims died from the events on 9/11. Many of those were firefighters. A portion of the ceremony specifically addressed the New York City firefighters lost on 9/11.

"Throughout most of history the lives of firefighters have been closely associated with the ringing of a bell. As they began their hours of duty, it was the bell that started it off," said Diehl.

"Through the day and night, each alarm was sounded by a bell, which called them to fight fire and place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow man and woman. And when the fire was out, and the alarm had come to an end, the bell rang three times to signal the end."

"We utilize these traditions as symbols which reflect honor and respect to those who have given so much and who have served so well in life."

In the fire services three bell rings, rung three times each represents the end of a call to duty. Bells were rung for the 343 firefighters who were toned out for their final call on Sept. 11, 2001.

USAG Daegu Commander Brian P. Schoellhorn and USAG Daegu Senior Enlisted Leader Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathon J. Blue placed a memorial wreath to close out the ceremony, rendering salutes in remembrance of the lives lost fighting terrorism around the world.

This year's 9/11 observance included an additional event — a two-mile run to symbolize the two miles that off-duty firefighter Stephen Siller ran carrying his 65 pounds of gear from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers.

Siller was not the only firefighter remembered with the run. American Red Cross staff and volunteers handed out badges with the individual names of all firefighters killed on 9/11. Runners were asked to wear the badges and run in their honor.

During the ceremony Diehl noted the significance of the badges.

"To the community they were first responders or Soldiers. To us, they are brothers and sisters."

To some they were childhood friends — Peter J. Flanagan of Woodside, New York found a familiar name among the many badges. Robert D. McMahon was a nine-year veteran at the New York City Fire Department when he paid the ultimate sacrifice as a 9/11 first responder.

"The thing that got me was all the runners were wearing name tags of a fallen firefighter from the towers that day," said Flanagan.

"I went and retrieved Bobby's name tag and realized that the young Soldier who was running in his memory was either not born yet, or was a young child during 9/11."

The badges of McMahon, Siller and the other firefighters were hung on a memorial after runners reached the finish line. The memorial will remain up for several days to give people the chance to pay their respects.

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