Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

September 11, 2013

Firemen offer special 9/11 tribute

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — The honor was obvious for a trio from Pauls Valley taking part in a special Oklahoma salute to the firefighters who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City a dozen years ago.

Full-time fireman Scott Woods and volunteers Cody Yates and Don May represented PV in what was called the Oklahoma Stair Climb this past Saturday.

It consisted of more than 300 Oklahoma firefighters gathering in downtown Oklahoma City to pay tribute to their fallen compadres in a way that only firemen could do.

They were honoring around that same number of firefighters who died while trying to help people inside one of the two Twin Towers toppled by terrorists on that fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001.

Adding to the emotions of the day each firefighter was given a badge with the name and photo of a New York City firefighter killed in the 9/11 tragedy.

“It’s a big honor,” Yates said about the weekend event. “They put their lives on the line doing the same job that we do right here in Pauls Valley.

“It helps you understand why they did what they did that day,” he said about their “selfless” acts of going into the towers looking to find and help survivors inside.

“Being a firefighter is not just a job you do. It’s something you’re called to do.”

Another special symbol that day was the bell that sounded each time a firefighter finished a climb and placed the badge on a board.

“When you hear the bell and the badge goes up there on the board, it really reaches up and grabs you,” Woods said.

“The sound really tugs at your heart.”

“It makes you feel closer to that person,” Yates added, referring to the badge.

The way it worked is firefighters from all over the state were at first divided into sections or companies.

They would go in groups in the same order as the firefighter companies that entered the towers on 9/11.

It all started with the firefighters walking a little more than a block with plenty of fanfare along the way.

“They have bag pipes playing and a crowd of people along the way clapping and cheering,” Woods said.

Their destination was the National Center in downtown OKC

Firefighters dressed in full bunker gear then climbed up a whole lot of stairs as a way to honor those firemen fallen in the 9/11 attacks on the NYC towers.

Firemen in each company actually went up 29 flights of stairs three times before making it 22 floors on the last time up.

After an elevator ride to the ground level each firefighter would place the name badge on a board to bring their climb of honor to an end.

“We did 110 floors of steps,” Woods said, adding the climb was far from easy. “That’s 1,980 steps. We counted them.”

Both Woods and Yates said the hopes for next year’s event is to get more firefighters from Pauls Valley and other departments around the county to take part and make the climb.