First responders remember 9/11
Written By Lauren Reimer
Posted: Sep 11, 2015 4:45 PM
TUCSON – 9/11 is considered by many to be the ‘Kennedy Moment’ of the 21st century. Everyone who lived through that day remembers where they were and what they were doing when they learned the Twin Towers had been attacked. This is especially true for two local police officers.
“It took a little bit to register, I didn’t understand what was happening,” said Tucson police officer Charley Foley. “Then I think they said ‘terrorist attack, The country is under terrorist attack,’ I just couldn’t believe it.”
Sept. 11, 2001 was Foley’s first day on the force.
“When I say first day, it’s first day out of the academy,'” said Foley. “I go to the streets. I’m paired up with a senior officer; day one, phase one, out of the academy,” said Foley.
No amount of training could have prepared him for what was to come.
“Those were things that were never probably talked about before Sept. 2001,” said Foley. “Now it’s very common that you’re getting terrorist training because it changed the world.”
Foley says it’s a day you always carry with you. Marana police officer Dan Rowan takes that literally.
“In the back of this car here, I have all my gear from 9/11,” said Rowan, as he pulled out his helmet, tools and turnout gear one by one.
Rowan was a firefighter of 18 years with the New York Fire Department when he was called to the Twin Towers.
More than 400 emergency workers died in the attack. His company lost ten.
“Their job was search and rescue, and they made it,” said Rowan. “A few never made it out.”
Rowan stayed on the job for three more years and eventually moved to Arizona.
“I still had love of the job,” he said.
Once a year he goes back to New York for a special check-up. He’ll do this for the rest of his life.
“We had a lot of smoke, we had a lot of asbestos and we ingested it not just for days, but you ingested it for months,” said Rowan.
Many who were at ground zero are still passing away from cancer. It is believed to be caused by the dust.
“When I left, I was breathing at 78 percent,” he said.
Since moving, Rowan’s results are looking positive.
“Just this year I’m breathing, for my age category, at 98 percent,” he said.
Foley is currently in New York City, visiting ground zero and delivering 40 donated flags to a Brooklyn elementary school through his ‘Flags for the Flagless’ program.