Story by MSgt Theanne Herrmann on 09/12/2018JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii U.S. Navy, Air Force and federal firefighters hosted a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Sept. 11 at the Hickam Field Fire Department to honor those who perished 17 years ago.
The ceremony honored the heroic actions of first responders who answered the nation's call that fateful day and recognized men and women who currently serve.
"Today we remember, respect and reflect...and we turn around with purpose, passion and patriotism to defend America," said Joseph Wassel, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for communications during the 9/11 attacks. "Here we are 17 years later and I've never been more proud to be in front of people who are defending our nation."
During the ceremony, U.S. Air Force Col. Halsey Burks, commander of the 15th Wing, explained the courageous acts of three fallen firefighters who responded on 9/11.
"Palmer, Feehan, Mercado- everyday Americans who answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice," said Burks. "They were ordinary people performing under extraordinary circumstances. They had a job to do and an important one. And they showed what Americans can do when given the call."
Throughout the ceremony, Navy and Air Force first responders stood in formation as a token of respect for the fallen.
"What I want people to know is that if you talk to any of those folks that acted on September 11, 2001, or if you talk to the people who are in formation today, they don't describe themselves as a hero or that they are special," said Burks. "They say they are just regular guys and gals who have a job to do."
Burks highlighted a few of the members standing in formation for their selfless service. One of those members is a Reserve Citizen Airmen Tech. Sgt. Justin Sabio with the 624th Civil Engineer Squadron who also works full-time with the Navy Federal Fire as an advanced emergency medical technician.
"Mr. Justin Sabio from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, has been a firefighter for 12 years and is a Rapid Intervention Crew instructor teaching new firefighters life-saving skills," said Burks.
A RIC is a dedicated and specially trained group of firefighters whose responsibilities include safely evacuating a distressed firefighter from a structure.
"I love being a firefighter to help my country," said Sabio. "I feel privileged to teach future fireman and being a RIC instructor helps me make better fireman in both my military and civilian role. I hope to cross paths with them later in their careers and hear how they were able to help save someone's life from the techniques they learned."
Burks ended his speech by expressing his gratitude for all of the first responders who stand ready.
"For all that you've done, all that you stand for, and all that you will do, I say thank you for your service," said Burks.