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Offutt firefighters join others for 9/11 memorial

Offutt firefighters join others for 9/11 memorial

Members of the Offutt Fire Department’s Honor Guard present the colors during the playing of the National Anthem at Werner Park stadium in Sarpy County, Nebraska Sept. 9, 2017. A memorial stair climb was held to honor the 343 New York, City firefighters who died while trying to rescue the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kendra Williams)

Offutt firefighters join others for 9/11 memorial

Firefighter trainees from Metropolitan Community College participate in a memorial stair climb at Werner Park stadium in Sarpy County, Nebraska Sept. 9, 2017. The event was held in honor of the 343 New York, City firefighters who died while trying to rescue the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kendra Williams)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Nebraska --

Firefighters from Offutt joined other firefighters, law enforcement and civilians Sept. 9 at Werner Park stadium in Sarpy County, Nebraska for a 9/11 memorial stair climb in honor of the 343 firefighters who died while trying to rescue the victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers.

The event was organized by 55th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Inspector Matt Gibbons who wanted to expand an annual memorial stair climb he started at Offutt.

“We did this for three years here on base, but it was a really small venue,” Gibbons said. “This year, I wanted to make it a larger event, so I started pushing it outside the base.”

Altogether, 113 people participated in the stair climb that weaved up and down the aisles of Werner Park. The climb equaled 110 stories of stairs, which is what New York firefighters faced to reach victims of the World Trade Center attacks that occurred September 11, 2001.

“We need to recognize the sacrifices our brothers made on this fateful day,” said 55th CES Fire Chief David Eblin. “While others were running and escaping from the danger, our firefighter brothers were running into the danger to try to help others. This speaks volumes to their character and courage. We must never forget the ultimate sacrifice that they made.”

 

An opening ceremony was held before the stair climb that included an invocation by Papillion, Nebraska Firefighter Chaplain Ken Hessel. Hessel was a volunteer firefighter for the Westbury Fire Department in Long Island, New York, and helped with the recovery efforts following the 9/11 attacks.

Gibbons said the events of 9/11 are an important part of history and today’s culture that requires firefighters and Americans to remain vigilant.

“We are ways away from New York City,” Gibbons said. “It’s been quite a few years since the terrorist attacks and things get forgotten. I think it’s important to remember where we came from, what our purpose is, and those who came before us and did what they did.”

Gibbons said that the event was a success, raising nearly $6,000 for the National Firefighter’s Foundation.

He said plans are already underway for another memorial stair climb at Werner Park next September, and hopes to make it an even bigger event.