Maryland Firefighters Share 9/11 Memories

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department played a role that day in support of our neighboring jurisdictions while continuing to protect our own county.

A couple of days after, I received an email from Jack Mowatt telling me that three guys from the tournament had died. When I read the names I was crushed. Tommy Casoria, Kenny Watson and Billy Johnston.  Billy was great; he loved sports, football, soccer and loved softball.  Kenny was a very funny guy. He loved his cigars and loved to laugh.  And Tommy he celebrated his bachelor party that year at the tournament. He was to get married on October 13. He celebrated playing softball and just having a good time.  On Sunday night Kenny had come up to the trailer and wanted to know what the winning team was to get. I told Kenny if you get me to the IF game I’d show you. Kenny and I laughed because his team was out and Billy’s was still in. I said well make Billy get me to the IF game and we would see. The IF game didn’t happen. Billy and I said a goodbye that night. Asked him if he had to work on Monday and said nope going to relax. Told him that he played a great game and had an incredible weekend and to stay safe.  A couple of weeks later I heard from Billy’s sister, Christine and she told me that Billy had gone to work on that Tuesday and never unpacked from the tournament. That he got called in after traveling all day Monday and that a friend needed help and an early relief so he could be with his kids that morning.  Something that we do all the time. Making family first.

Each year as the Tournament celebrates another year of support towards Muscular Dystrophy it reminds us that there are three guys not playing.  Three friends not there to celebrate and laugh with.  That this tournament to me a reminder of that fateful day.  A reminder that at points, the 11th of September falls during this tournament.  And as the Tournament Committee we have made it known that the tournament will never forget those that have given the supreme sacrifice. That each year we will never forget the 343 firefighters of the FDNY.  We will never forget September 11, 2001. A day that changed the fire service’s history forever.

Diane V. Cunningham

September 11, 2001: Administrative Assistant - Public Information Office

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department

September 11, 2011: Administrative Assistant - Public Information Office

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department

Upon hearing the news that the Pentagon had been hit, I thought about all the people I knew who worked there.  Mostly, though, I thought about my cousin, Carrie Blagburn, 48, a budget analyst for the U.S. Army who also worked at the Pentagon.  I remember praying silently but fervently, as I and other family members frantically tried contacting her on her cell phone.  With each unanswered call there was an increasing sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Imagine what it must be like to have your loved one missing, yet still hear his or her voice on their phone message. Nevertheless, some of us continued to call because hearing her voice enabled us to hold on to her for a while.  It gave us a semblance of hope.  I remember the overwhelming sadness I felt as I empathized with her mom, husband and four children—especially her 22 year-old son, a soldier, who at the time was unable to immediately get home from Saudi Arabia.     

Ten years have passed, and Carrie never responded to our calls.  The U.S. Army lists her as “Unaccounted For.”

Carrie’s Bench, located in Arlington, Virginia, is one of 183 benches dedicated in memory of the lives lost at the Pentagon on that fateful day, September 11, 2001.    

Michael T. Hughes

September 11, 2001: Assistant Chief-Branchville Volunteer Fire Company,

Incident Commander, PGFD Units at THE PENTAGON,

September 11, 2011:   Branchville Volunteer Life Member, Past-Chief, Firefighter, EMT/B

As the PGFD Incident Commander, I had no idea what we were facing once inside THE PENTAGON. It soon became obvious this incident exceeded ANYTHING we'd ever faced.

The PGFD units that responded as DCFD's 3rd alarm all had been relocated to various DCFD stations were deployed as a group and directed to stage on Rte. 110 adjacent to the Command Post until given further orders.

Shortly after our arrival at the scene, we were led to our staging area - I395/Army-Navy Drive - where, as a group, we met and staged for approximately 20 minutes, after which we were directed to put all firefighters and officers aboard the four engines: E113, E352, E271 and E332, and were relocated to the main entrance inside the interior courtyard. It was there we developed our game plan: C11B would be the Incident Commander, C35 Operations and C2A (Mangum) and C27A (Fuller) the Team Leaders. Mont CO. DFRS BFC 1 was assigned with DFRS T6 (Bethesda) to compliment their staffing and operated along with our personnel. It should also be noted that 4 personnel from DCFD E18 (where E113 was transferred) operated as a part of E113's crew.

With armed personnel manning the entrance ports, the 33 members under my command did their job selflessly and with the highest degree of professionalism, patriotism and sense of duty. All egos were left at the door. Our crews operated flawlessly as a cohesive, professional unit and did so under the most dire conditions imaginable. Most disconcerting, however, was what we didn't know. You see, for the duration of our operation, we had no knowledge of any other potential targets or what may have been happening throughout the Country.