JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of the busiest fire stations in Jacksonville is adorned with some of its best known veterans.
Young or old, all of the firefighters there, and around Jacksonville, are spending the weekend in contemplation about the 15-year anniversary of September 11th. They each shared their own experiences and lessons as they recounted exactly where they were and what they were doing when the attacks started to unfold, with the first plane striking at 8:46 a.m. ET and the second plane following just 17 minutes later.
“I remember exactly where I was at and what I was doing,” said Captain Bill Langley.
“At first I think me and my brother didn’t really know what we were looking at,” said Lukas Beal.
“As he put the TV on a second plane was flying into the tower,” said Mark Portis.
“There were some firemen that were going to die that day. At that time, who knew how many,” said Jeff Feltman.
These four firefighters recalled the moments leading up to September 11th, the moments of the actual attacks and the long road to recover afterward.
“September 10th, 2001 President Bush flew into Jacksonville. We were on duty at the airport. So when President Bush left his secret service guys came to brief us and they were the ones who told us that he would be in Sarasota on 9/11 speaking to some Elementary kids,” said Feltman. “I always think about those guys because I wonder what their life turned into after the attack.”
The attacks on September 11th, 2001 took the lives of 343 firefighters, 50 police officers, 8 paramedics and ultimately 2,977 people. The lives were lost from the multiple attacks that day, across New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“I was coming through the security gate when the first plane hit the tower and within a matter of 15, 20 minutes the entire airport shut down, aircrafts started landing, pulling off into the grass, so yes, I remember it very, very well,” said Captain Langley.
“I was stationed at Travis Airforce Base California and that’s how the whole day started for me I started receiving phone calls from emergency centers going into operations,” said Portis. “At the time I was getting ready to separate from the military but then they added a stop law and I thought it was meant to be so I enlisted for another four years and they immediately sent me to Korea.”
The attacks on the U.S. lit that same fire and urgency to help for thousands around the country.
“I joined the army, spent a few years in the army and proudly served my country in that aspect,” said Beal.
These four men each have their own story to tell from that day. They were each in a different part of our nation.
At a different time in their lives. Yet now they find themselves here, in downtown Jacksonville, serving together and all driven to do the same thing, to remember their fallen comrades and to protect each and every one of us.
“That’s that this day is. That’s what it’s all about. To remember,” said Portis.