I believe most of us were sleep deprived when we awoke on 9/12/01. Nineteen years ago, I was a sophomore at Worcester State University. The attacks on America really shook me. The campus was closed, and this young, naive, careless student quickly turned scared, anxious and curious. As the hours and days unfolded people, I knew shared their stories of the missing, being that many New Englanders were on those planes and with NYC just a few hours away it really hit hard. That day shaped me in the respect I have for others. Thousand perished on that day, but the heroic acts of hundreds saved many more lives. My grandfather was retired Air Force, he helped get me my summer college job. I worked as a civilian for the 102nd at Otis Airforce base. I would mow the grass along the runway and around the hangers. There were only a few of the F-15s that were kept armed in the alert barns. On that day two of the armed birds were scrambled when the FAA determined Flight 11 and Flight 175 were hijacked. All the two fighter pilots could do was keep guard over the airspace of ground zero as the towers had already been hit. Down below people were rushing to escape while true American Heroes were running to ground zero. That is what has inspired the Red White and Blue inside that pumps my blood. The police officers, fire fighters and others who gave up their life on that day, although I didn’t know them, they push me to be better, stronger and a patriot to the flag. I have had a chance to visit ground zero on several occasions. March 2002 when the signs of the missing, cards remembering, and smell of destruction filled the air. I visited many times in between until I can say for two years, I was part of what makes the USA so great, those living the American dream, as I worked in Midtown Manhattan. I met so many more people impacted; mothers, brothers, aunts’ uncles, kids who lost their family on that day. If you have never been to ground zero, you are missing out on the healing of the soul in seeing the power of people who want a world of love. The memorials to the firefighters, the notes, cards, flowers and tears that make up why this place has become so special to me.
On 9/12/2020 I awoke at 6:00am. After the Celtics won game 7 I was already flying high. I got myself ready with my red white and blue attire, dragged No-Doz out of bed and to the county we went. Jerry McGuire, Tidwell, Brown tail and Fauker were already there and ready to go. I planted 5 American flags representing not just our great nation, but stations. Soon more Pax showed up, some after a morning mumble chatter pre-ruck. Fauker brought three FNGs he has been NBA Jam on fire with the headlocks. LePew ran up with the flags and 7am hit.
PAX: LePew, Jolly Racher, Pelican, Asian Zing (R), Diane Dukes, Lucky Charm, Brown Tail (R), GQ, Brown Water, Captain Crunch Berries, NoDoz, Double Down (R), Honey Dew, Hush Puppy, Muncher, Tidwill, Carrot Top FNG, Fauker, MOAB FNG, Seal Pup FNG, Jerry McGuire (R), Gisele Q.
I gave an overview of how we will honor those who have given us so much and a disclaimer for all of us to work by. We split into two groups to keep space going our separate ways to reconvene in the large upper lot. To start out we were going to get in 54 side straddle hops in cadence. I told the PAX ahead of time the number and I would get to the meaning in a bit. If 54 was not fitting for today the ask was continuing to move with overhead claps or air press. We finished the 54 quick 10 count. Next up was downward dog, with stretching in between. I set the timer and shared the why behind the timing.
Shared: Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9 in Midtown suffered the greatest loss on September 11th. 15 of its members died that day — more than any other firehouse in the city. With that I read the names.
Firefighter Jose Guadalupe
Firefighter Leonard Ragaglia
Firefighter Christopher Santora
Firefighter Paul Gill
Captain David Wooley
Lieutenant Daniel O’Callaghan
Firefighter Joseph Angellini, Jr.
Firefighter Samuel Oitice
Firefighter Michael Haub
Firefighter John Tipping
Firefighter Michael Lynch
Firefighter Michael Brennan
THANG With that we continued to mosey in the direction that we met in the front lot down to the back for the main thang. I was having some music difficulty with a speaker, so Pelican swooped in with a backup and Captain Crunch Berry gave out some more stretching to the PAX. Music working and we counted to get into 5 groups. We broke off to each station which was 13 of various exercises representing the strips of the flag with 5 different exercises at each station representing the starts of the flag. With this already getting a bit long I won’t list all the exercises, but it did include monkey humpers, hillbilly squats and Bobby Hurley so you know it was good. Between the stations the ask was to not always mosey and to pick one of our other movement exercises. As Hulk Hogan’s real America was blaring in the background as part of today’s set list I got to chatting with Diane Dukes as this was his first trip to the county and hope to have him back out. 7:50 hit so time for some Mary. As we circled up and one of the best sounds these ears have heard in Ray Charles America the Beautiful. I then asked for those who have served in the military or as a first responder raise your hand. We gave a clap of respect and then had Fauker, Jerry Mac and Brown Tail lead us. As we went into some superman Whitney Houston’s rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner hit. The church bell rang, and we stood facing the flag until the end.
COT As we remember those who have given their life in the days, weeks and years post 9/11 we also wanted to remember one of our own. Our first NoR all 22 gave a Jay Griggs-52-Cash. He is our brother from the Fort who lost his courageous battle with cancer. Next up standard NoR. With 3 FNGs we got MOAB, Navy Vet and his 2.0 Seal Pup. Our third was Carrot Top for his hobby of improv. With announcements we have IPC Monday at the County, Asian Zing Tuesday and a plug for the mumble ruck on 9/25. After today we even got a message that Muncher wants to be a fire fighter. We then went through intentions for the Menace family, Pelicans MIL and GQ with callout for us to keep prayers for all this is going on with human trafficking. As we closed I asked the PAX to join me with a pledge of allegiance and our father. What a great way to start the day, 22 Pax, 4 new to the county, 3 new to F3. You all inspire me – go off and be great! Gisele- Ready for football and I am out!