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Marines and sailors from across Regional Command Southwest and firefighters with the Camp Leatherneck Fire Department pose for a group picture Sept. 11, 2011. The troops and firefighters gathered to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks and to pay respect to those who lost their lives during the event. (Photo by Cpl. Bruno J. Bego)

Photo by Cpl. Bruno J. Bego

Service members and firefighters honor fallen heroes during 9/11 cookout

11 Sep 2011 | Cpl. Bruno Bego

Troops from across Regional Command Southwest and firefighters with the Camp Leatherneck Fire Department joined forces to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, where many firefighters and paramedics lost their lives while assisting victims.

“The firefighters and Marines wanted to be able to commemorate this event to increase our camaraderie,” explained Master Sgt. Gregory P. Zenoni, from Lexington, S.C., the logistics section chief with Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.1, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward).

“These guys are taking care of us just as much as much as we are taking care of them out here in Afghanistan,” Zenoni said. “I think it’s great to show the unity on this symbolic day.”

The gathering presented the opportunity for service members and firefighters to set aside their daily responsibilities for a short time and share their different experiences of such an unforgettable episode.

“We try to do cookouts periodically to give back to the military members … to say thank you,” said Jaime J. Jimenez, from San Antonio, the Camp Leatherneck Fire Department chief. “When the firefighters came to me and said that they wanted to do one on the 9/11 anniversary, I said we should do it … and the support we’ve had from all units around the camp has been incredible.

“It is an honor for me to serve alongside troops out here in Afghanistan because I know what it’s like to wear the uniform,” explained Jimenez, who retired after twenty years as a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force. “I thank God every day for having the opportunity to be out here protecting them and helping them, just because they protect us every day.”

Keeping the memories alive can be very emotional for some, but for the troops and firefighters at the event, it is a moment to feel proud and to think about the mission and duty, Jimenez affirmed.

September 11 is a very emotional day for all the firefighters, to remember the 343 firefighters who gave their lives during 9/11 … they are in our memories, explained Michael J. Gaul, the Camp Leatherneck Fire Department captain. “But events like this cookout will help us keep all the people who passed away during the attack in our minds.”

The idea is to share in commemoration of the 10 years and enjoy time together to think back and remember why we are here, he concluded.


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