First responders remember 9/11’s local impact

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There’s no denying the 9/11 attacks were a turning point in our country’s history, but many people have no idea the extent it changed the Cape Fear region and its residents forever.

“We always, just like Pearl Harbor and D Day, and those other things. These are special days in our life that give us a time to step back and just pause and say, you know, first responders, military people, they’re all sacrificing every single day so that we can live this life that we live,” says Wilmington Fire Chief, Buddy Martinette.

Martinette helped lead the search and rescue effort at the pentagon on September eleventh. He remembers that day in vivid detail, and says he was called into action only six minutes after the first tower fell.

“The notion that you’re even nervous or afraid really doesn’t come into your mind,” states Martinette. “You’re focused on the mission.”

The fire chief says it took 11 days to gather evidence for the FBI, rescue survivors, and retrieve bodies with dignity and respect. But he says it could have been worse if flight 77 had crashed somewhere else.

“The good Lord played a hand in making sure that that plane hit a part of the building that was mostly vacant as opposed to the other parts of that building,” Martinette says. “Which would’ve had a devastating death toll.”

The terrorist attacks moved fireman Mike Beliles so intensely, he immediately joined the military to protect his family and his country. He says he’ll never forget that day, or the weeks after.

“Everbody came together, and it was probably one of the most beautiful things because it didn’t matter what race. It didn’t matter male, female, it didn’t matter who you were. Everybody was there arm in arm helping each other out,” notes Beliles.

And though these attacks happened 19 years ago, Martinette says it’s still important to remember September 11, 2001, a time of harrowing loss and profound sacrifice:

“Those people paid an ultimate sacrifice that day. Lots of people died in those towers. Innocent victims for a war that was difficult for all of us to understand.”

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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