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News | Sept. 11, 2017

Soto Cano Air Base honors the fallen

By Maria Pinel Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

The 612th Air Base Squadron Fire Department hosted a silent march and remembrance ceremony in honor of the first responders who fell in the line of duty during the September 11 attacks, here Monday.

A military formation comprised of Joint Security Forces, Medical Element and Fire Emergency Services personnel stood to represent first responders, presided by Col. Megan Gumpf, Army Support Activity commander, who shared inspiring words to honor the selfless service of the fallen patriots.

“That day, September 11th, saw the worst inclinations of mankind come to life; but it also saw something else, it saw the best,” said Gumpf. “It saw the bravery and selflessness of hundreds of police, fire and other rescue workers who rushed into the smoking flames to save strangers and never walked out again. It saw the love and caring of everyday people coming to the aid of fellow citizens.”

It was during this tragedy that many came together and volunteered to support rescue teams and citizens, either by digging through rubble from the collapsed buildings or by donating blood to those who were injured, bringing the community together as one.

“It showed that despite of separation by geography, language or race we are truly more alike than we are unalike,” said Gumpf.

The commander also took the opportunity to highlight how Soto Cano Air Base brings together nations who work for a common purpose and how this base highlights that unity making it an ideal location to commemorate this solemn day together.

“There is no clearer display of this invisible indivisible bond between nations than here on Soto Cano Air Base, where we all serve together as partners and friends to protect and improve the lives of people throughout this region and continue to strengthen that unbreakable bond and commitment to keep the world safe, make it a better place and never forget the sacrifices of those who came before us.”

Continuing the ceremony JSF, MEDEL and Fire Department representatives folded the American flag, with each fold representing the fallen victims, the armed forces, fallen service members who gave their lives while fulfilling their duties, volunteers who searched days for survivors and those who outlived their sons, daughters, parents, children and spouses who lost their loved ones.

To conclude the ceremony, two firefighters from the 612 continued an ongoing tradition within the force known as “Striking the four fives”, which consists of five bell strikes in a four series symbolizing the announcement of a fallen firefighter. This 1800s custom has continued through the years and is a form of rendering honors to departed comrades.

Of the victims killed during the September 11 attacks 16 years ago, 343 fallen firefighters, 23 police officers, 37 Port Authority officers as well as New York emergency medical technicians and paramedics lost their lives while performing their duties at the World Trade Center, changing the lives of hundreds and touching the lives of millions worldwide by doing the ultimate sacrifice.