San Diego Firefighter Recalls Responding To 9/11 Attacks
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Photo by Mark Lennihan AP
When the Twin Towers were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, a team of San Diego firefighters was dispatched to help with search and rescue efforts.
Two hijacked airplanes slammed into the towers in a terrorist attack.
"As soon as I saw the collapse — every firefighter will tell you they’re thinking one thing: 'a lot of firefighters just died,'" San Diego Fire-Rescue Deputy Fire Chief John Wood said.
Wood was part of a search and rescue team from San Diego that was called on to look for survivors.
"We were on a search-and-rescue mission, so our job was basically to go search for a certain sector and see if we can find any signs of life," Wood said.
Wood and his team were there six days after the towers fell.
"There was a lot of missing people," he said. "One of our big things we found out all these years later — thinking about, reflecting on — it is bringing back closure to families was important."
Wood said he was focused on doing what he could to help.
"There’s no room for emotion on those types of missions — so we turn it off," he said. "Now obviously it’s personalized, imagine having one of your brothers and sisters — may be ones you haven’t met — but they’re in there. So when you’re finding turnouts or parts of a breathing apparatus or two Port Authority officers like we did — that’s our family."
Wood hopes the memory of what happened is never lost.
"One of the big things I always look at is we will never forget," he said. "Seeing the interviews, the stair climbs, the education of our children — seeing all that happen is so very important."
The San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park has a permanent 9/11 exhibit that features a police cruiser that was damaged while responding to the attack and debris from when the towers fell.
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