DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Hundreds of North Texas firefighters honored the legacy of their fallen brothers by climbing in their memory.
The 343 firefighters hiked up 110-floors Sunday, each participant representing a first responder who lost their life on September 11, 2001.
It was an emotional and significant journey for all who participated. They came from cities across the area and the state – each with his or her own reason and purpose.
“I wasn’t a fireman back in 9/11, but it had a lot of influence on me to become a fireman,” Grapevine Firefighter Andrew Torrence said.
Torrence was among the 343 first responders who gathered early in the morning on the historic anniversary of 9/11 at downtown’s Renaissance Tower.
“Some days it feels like 10 years, other days it doesn’t,” New York Firefighter Thomas Goodheart said. Goodheart recalled the shock and terror of that horrific day. “Certain days – you see something or smell something and it brings you right back to where you were.”
The men and women climbed 55 flights of stairs twice, representing the 110 floors of the World Trade Center.
“I’m climbing for firefighter Stanly Magala from Engine 226,” Flower Mound firefighter Scott Funderburg said. “It makes it a lot more moving and honorable event to actually be climbing for somebody.”
Dressed in full gear, ceremonial bagpipes and supportive cheers served as the soundtrack to their challenge. It was exhausting, intense and, for a time, an overwhelming hike up 110 floors.
“Our motto is ‘two in, two out’ – never leave anybody behind,” Matt Overly with the North Richland Hills Fire Department said. “So, we just hang out with them; get them hydrated and keep going.”
Every man and woman in uniform was cognizant of the significance of each step.
“When all this is done, we get to go home and the 343 didn’t so that’s hard,” Overly said,
This was the first time Dallas hosted a Memorial Climb. Organizers said some firefighters had to withdraw at the last minute because they were pulled to fight the wildfires in central Texas. Yet, they said, there was no shortage of other volunteers to take those places.
“Our truck that we run out of our station is 235 and the city of New York lost their truck, 235,” Sgt. Dave Kieltsch with Edgecliff Village Fire said. “We have a plaque in our station. We’re climbing for them. So, we weren’t going to quit.”