Osan honors 9/11 first responders

by Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Stripes Korea

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 51st Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services flight hosted a 9/11 memorial ceremony at the Osan Air Base Fire Department followed by a stair climb at Seoraksan Tower here, Sept. 11, 2018.

Both events were held in honor of those who lost their lives during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2001.

“I remember being rudely awoken by my roommate right before 9 a.m. on Sept. 11,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Fryar, 51st CES commander and the event’s guest speaker. “I got the TV on just before 9:03 a.m., and was able to watch a second plane impact the south tower. At that time I don’t think we understood the impact of what we saw, but as the events played out over the next few days a picture was being painted that would end up being life changing.”

During the ceremony, a member of the 51st CES FES rendered honors in a custom known as striking the four fives. The practice includes ringing a bell five times, repeated four times with a slight pause between each series. This signifies a firefighter has died in the line of duty, or an important official or personage died. This tradition is thought to have been performed as long ago as 1865 to announce the death of President Abraham Lincoln.

Finally, as the ceremony closed, members of the 51st CES FES read out the names of the 412 emergency responders who gave their lives to save others 17 years ago.

After the ceremony ended, guests were invited to take part in a stair climb at Seoraksan Tower to commemorate the 110 stories emergency responders climbed in order to rescue people inside the twin towers. Because Seoraksan Tower only has eight stories, participants made 16 laps, climbing seven stories each time to reach a total of 112 stories.

“This gives everyone a chance to see what they were feeling as they were going up those 110 flights of stairs to reach the victims that needed their help,” said Staff Sgt. Devon Smith, 51st CES FES lead firefighter. “It’s significant to us because that’s the same thing we do – we’re willing to sacrifice, so that others can live. We make every effort we can to bring everybody home, but at the end of the day we’re prepared to do what’s necessary to help other people survive.”

The ceremony and memorial stair climb were attended by Airmen and families from across the base, including young children, who were welcome to attend the event in effort to educate the next generation and ensure we never forget the sacrifices made that day.

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