A day of remembrance

Mem­bers of the Phil­adelphia Po­lice and Fire Pipes and Drums per­form out­side of Loc­al 22’s headquar­ters on Wil­low and N. 5th Sts on Fire­fight­er Re­cog­ni­tion day and 9-11 Me­mori­al Ded­ic­a­tion and Plaque Ded­ic­a­tion on Sunday, Septem­ber 11, 2011. Kev­in Cook/for the Times

Lt. Fran­cis “Buddy” Wern­er was among 19 mem­bers of the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment’s Res­cue 1 who dis­patched to New York on the morn­ing of the Sept. 11, 2001 at­tacks on the World Trade Cen­ter.

Wern­er was work­ing that day at his sta­tion at Fourth Street and Gir­ard Av­en­ue, but he and the oth­ers were soon at the Phil­adelphia Fire Academy, get­ting ready to em­bark on a 12-vehicle con­voy to New York.

The fire­fight­ers got snarled in traffic at the Lin­coln Tun­nel, as threats came in fol­low­ing the de­lib­er­ate crash­ing of two air­planes in­to each of the World Trade Cen­ter’s twin towers.

The Phil­adelphia re­in­force­ments ar­rived by night­fall, and worked 12-hour shifts for the next eight days.

“It was a pretty eer­ie thing. It was eer­ily quiet,” said Wern­er, who lives in Sun Val­ley. “There was white powder every­where. It was so thick on the ground you could shovel it.”

On Sunday af­ter­noon, the 10th an­niversary of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks, Wern­er and some oth­er mem­bers of the Res­cue 1 team that made the trip were at In­ter­na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Fire Fight­ers Loc­al 22, as the uni­on and the Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict un­veiled a me­mori­al trib­ute to all the her­oes of 9/11, in­clud­ing loc­als who served in the res­cue and re­cov­ery ef­forts.

Bill Gault, the pres­id­ent of Loc­al 22, re­minded the crowd that 343 New York fire­fight­ers were killed at the World Trade Cen­ter site. An­oth­er vic­tim was the Rev. My­chal Judge, chap­lain of the New York Fire De­part­ment, who died when he was hit in the head by fly­ing debris while ad­min­is­ter­ing aid and pray­ers to vic­tims. Oth­er fire­fight­ers were in­jured or are suf­fer­ing side ef­fects of work­ing in the re­cov­ery zone.

“It’s our call­ing,” Gault said of the dangers of fire­fight­ing.

May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter de­scribed 9/11 as a “hor­rif­ic” day, but ad­ded that Amer­ic­an first re­spon­ders came through in the days fol­low­ing and cit­izens have main­tained a spe­cial spir­it since then.

“We’re a stronger city, a stronger state and a stronger na­tion,” the may­or said.

The crowd ob­served a mo­ment of si­lence be­fore the me­mori­al was un­veiled, and Chelsea Gault, daugh­ter of the uni­on lead­er, sung The Star-Spangled Ban­ner.

The me­mori­al is on a wall out­side the en­trance of Loc­al 22, at Fifth and Wil­low streets. As it was un­veiled, the Phil­adelphia Po­lice and Fire Pipes and Drums played a med­ley of I’m a Yan­kee Doodle Dandy, You’re a Grand Old Flag, God Bless Amer­ica and mil­it­ary an­thems.

On the me­mori­al are the words “Nev­er For­get — Ded­ic­ated to all the her­oes of Septem­ber 11, 2001.” It fea­tures an Amer­ic­an flag and eagle and a fire­fight­er and truck with the num­ber 22 on the side.

There are also im­ages rep­res­ent­ing the World Trade Cen­ter and an­oth­er ter­ror­ist tar­get, the Pentagon, along with the field in Shanks­ville, Somer­set County, where United Air­lines Flight 93 crashed fol­low­ing a vi­ol­ent clash between pas­sen­gers and hi­jack­ers.

As part of the ce­re­mony, Loc­al 22 gave the Unit Re­cog­ni­tion Award to Res­cue 1 for its role in the af­ter­math of the at­tacks.

The Res­cue 1 team of a dec­ade ago con­sisted of Deputy Chief Joseph Mack, Capt. Ger­ard McK­eown, Lt. Fred En­dikrat, Lt. Fran­cis Wern­er, Lt. John O’Neill, Lt. Mi­chael Whalen and fire­fight­ers Ger­ard Smink, Louis Bras­ten, Richard Benditt, Sylvester Evans, Wil­li­am Reyn­olds, Robert Cross­field, Chris­toph­er Fish­er, Craig Murphy, Dav­id Tret­ter, Shawn Glynn, Mi­chael Fo­ley, Joseph Lock­ett and John Ross.

Res­cuers worked 12-hour shifts to loc­ate pos­sible sur­viv­ors with the aid of K-9 dogs and spe­cial­ized cam­era equip­ment. The Fire De­part­ment of New York re­moved the bod­ies that were found.

Wern­er re­called un­load­ing the gear upon ar­rival in New York and head­ing to Ground Zero.

The Phil­adelphia fire­fight­ers were angry with the ter­ror­ists’ ac­tions but had a job to do. They worked with dogs to de­term­ine if there were any liv­ing vic­tims among the rubble, but sadly, they found only mangled body parts that were passed along to the cor­on­er’s of­fice.

Each day, at the shift change, thou­sands of people lined a route, ap­plaud­ing and wav­ing Amer­ic­an flags in an emo­tion­al scene.

“The people were fant­ast­ic,” Wern­er said. “I was choked up. It brought a tear to your eye.”

Sim­il­arly, Wern­er and the oth­ers were over­whelmed by the out­pour­ing of sup­port when they ar­rived back at the Fire Academy.

In the days lead­ing up to the 10th an­niversary, Wern­er watched tele­vi­sion foot­age of the af­ter­math of the tragedy.

“Wow. It brought back a lot of memor­ies,” he said.

Loc­al 22 also presen­ted the fol­low­ing awards dur­ing a post-ce­re­mony re­cep­tion in the uni­on hall:

• Pres­id­ent’s Award: Re­tired Bat­talion Chief Fred En­dikrat, a 36-year vet­er­an of the de­part­ment who served as part of the com­mand staff for the Pennsylvania Task Force and FEMA at the World Trade Cen­ter.

• Fire­fight­er Friends Awards: Bill Cleary/Givn­ish Fu­ner­al Homes, Jack’s Fire­house Tav­ern, Matt Arnold/Darlings Diner, City Coun­cil­man Frank Rizzo, state Rep. Ron Wa­ters, state Sen. An­thony Wil­li­ams, former Dis­trict At­tor­ney Lynne Ab­ra­ham and at­tor­ney Mike Fen­erty.

• The Me­dia Award: Me­dia Mo­bil­iz­a­tion Pro­ject.

• Cer­ti­fic­ate of Ser­vice Awards: Ed­ding­ton Fire Co., Chel­ten­ham Hook & Lad­der, Corn­wells Heights Fire Co., Elkins Park Fire Co., Not­ting­ham Fire Co. #34, Glen­side Fire Co., Uni­on Fire Co., Penndel Fire Co. and Feasterville Fire Co.

• Home As­so­ci­ation Brass Plates: The fam­il­ies of Rich Endy and Joseph Eis­en­lohr.

• Com­munity Ser­vice Awards: Fire­fight­ers Joseph Garden­er and Mike Rauch and Capt. Rich Ro­mano.

• Hero­ism Award: Fire­fight­ers Charles Tizol, Ed­ward Ver­bit­ski, Ron­ald Nyari and John Rob­bins and Lt. Ken­neth Pagurek.

• Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Awards: Capt. Joseph Healy, Lt. Joseph Wo­jtiw, fire­fight­ers Wil­li­am Phil­lips, Charles Bren­nan, Ar­thur See­ger, Ern­est Fo­ley, Justin Kief­ski, Robert Sol­is, Bruce Thomas, Kev­in Ga­hagan and Alv­in Jen­kins and fire ser­vice para­med­ics Mat­thew Flan­nigan and Elin Rodrig­uez.

• John “Moon” Re­illy Award: Loc­al 22 ser­geant-at-arms Glenn John­son.

• Medal of Hon­or: The fam­ily of Hose­man Joseph Dugan, who died Nov. 8, 1943 from in­jur­ies he re­ceived in the line of duty.

• John Red­mond Award: Bat­talion Chief Robert Le­wan­dowski. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus