Former New York firefighters who have retired to our area remembered their fallen colleagues today. The FDNY Carolina Retirees Association hosted a tribute in front of a memorial on Brunswick Community College's campus each year on the September 11 anniversary.
They came by bike, and by fire engine, to remember their 343 brothers who died on September 11, 2001. Multiple FDNY retirees were on hand to speak about their jobs and their fallen brothers.
"To anyone in the fire services, this is a sacred day. It's probably one of the greatest disasters that this country's fire services have faced," Calabash fire Chief Carl Naecker said.
Joe Gibbons, a FDNY retiree, said, "This is a day that is bittersweet. We had the greatest job in the world with the greatest bunch of men.”
“We're such a tight knit community, brotherhood and sisterhood, it was tough. The company I worked in lost all six guys. Six guys that I had worked with a year before pretty much,” said Mike Healy, another FDNY retiree.
William Woods, who retired in 1995, said that he attended around 150 funerals in total, sometimes going to five a day in the different boroughs.
Joan Mastropolo, wife of a firefighter, remembered how she felt that fateful day.
"God how could this happen? How could this happen? It seems so impossible that those buildings could come down, and all those people lost. We lost so many friends. It was so sad. It was one of the most horrible things I've ever gone through,” she said.
The FDNY-CRA is an organization of retired FDNY personnel now living in North and South Carolina. They started in March 2002. The organization is dedicated to keeping the spirit of brotherhood alive and promoting issues that affect retired firefighters.