(WHTM) — On September 11, 2001, three Pennsylvania Task Force 1 members knew exactly what their next mission would be.
“When you’re going there, everybody is coming out of New York City, but you’re driving North and as you pause and think about that, ok, now you’re challenging yourself, am I prepared for this, can I do the job,” Martyn Nevil, task force leader, said.
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Pa. Task Force 1 was one of the first teams to arrive.
“We arrived there very late in the night on September 11, had an advanced team go down, look at communications and logistics of getting us on a pile, and then the morning of the 12th was our first major physical activity with major rescue ops,” Nevil said.
But rescue turned into recovery. “The next morning coming in, you would have people stopping you, ‘here is a picture of my son, I think he was on the 30th floor, please go find him’,” Michael Kurtz said.
Kurtz is a medical specialist.
“The majority of the work up there when we got there, it was human remains and you know, it was a challenge even doing that because they were, New York had their task force there and they lost quite a few members, we actually trained with them, we knew a lot of them,” Kurtz said.
The logistics of going through the rubble was so complex George Lazorchick, a structural specialist, compared it to a Jenga puzzle.
“Like if you pull one piece out, is anything going to fall down and if the potential is there, basically, to make sure that there are measures taken to mitigate that risk,” Lazorchick said.
The three men were there for the next 10 days.
“It reminded me of black and white tv shows because everything was grayed out because of all the dust,” Kurtz said.
Which led to a lot of illness.
“There are thousands of first responders that are suffering because they went to New York City, went to the Pentagon, went to Shanksville, they have contracted diseases, we have lost here in the Harrisburg area people,” Lazorchik said. “I would venture to say that the World Trade Center impact will continue for as long as our generation is alive.”
And for future generations, they want them to know about the sacrifice and bravery and most importantly, to never forget.
“As time has gone on and in the context of Never Forget, I’m constantly drawn back to the life you touch today, may change someone’s tomorrow,” Nevil said.