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New York City/World Trade Center
Deployment 2001

 

On September 11, 2001, foreign terrorists attacked the United States. Terrorists trained as pilots hijacked four airliners. Two crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Both of these towers eventually collapsed. Another airliner was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. While a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after the passengers overpowered the hijackers. On this day, thousands of people, from 80 countries, died in the world's largest coordinated terrorist attack. The entire world was stunned.

At the World Trade Center buildings, hundreds of the cities emergency services personnel were killed when the buildings fell as they were attempting to do their jobs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) immediately dispatched Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams to both New York and Washington, DC. By the time FEMA US&R operations were closed, every team in the nation had been deployed to either the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. It was the largest mobilization of this county's US&R capabilities in history.

California Task Force 3 (CaTF-3) was deployed to New York City on September 18th including six DART members. The entire intervening week between the attack and the deployment was spent fine-tuning the team and its equipment for deployment. It was never a matter of "if" the team was going, it was a matter of "when". CaTF-3 flew out of Travis Air Force Base on two aircraft. One, a C-141 cargo transport carried the team's equipment. The second, a C-5B cargo transport, carried the team members in relative comfort as compared to the paratrooper netting that would have been available in the C-141.

The team arrived at McGuire AFB in New Jersey in the evening. They were transported to the Jacob Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan, the Federal staging facility. After a few starts and stops, the team was notified it would break into two elements to create a Rapid Reaction Task Force capability. New York City's collapsed structure rescue capability had just been wiped out. A heightened threat level for further terrorist action, added to the issue of buildings collapsing for other reasons within the five boroughs of New York City. CaTF-3 was selected to replace the lost capability of FDNY. One team, Rapid Reaction Task Force 1 (RRTF1) remained at the Javits Center. The other team, RRTF2, headed out to Ft. Totten in Queens. Within 24 hours, CaTF-3 created the RRTF functional capability and became an active element in support of FDNY. Though no operations were carried out during the four days of CaTF-3 RRTF readiness, CaTF-3 was very proud of the opportunity to support FDNY and New York City in this unprecedented capacity.

After turning over the RRTF job to Nebraska Task Force 1, CaTF-3 was reunited as a full team back at Javits Center. For the next four days, CaTF-3 operated two 12-hour shifts supporting the search and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. The team worked side-by-side with members of all elements of the New York City emergency services units and various trade professionals. Though the work was both physically and emotionally tiring, this was what we had originally come to do. There was an immense satisfaction from the opportunity to help the Country and New York City in a way that so few people can.

CaTF-3 was well cared for while in New York City. Random House Publishing "adopted" our team and the many volunteers from this corporation saw to our every need. We only had to whisper a desire ("foot powder, please") and boxes would appear. There were more people to tend to our needs than there were of us to tend to New York City.

As CaTF-3 was preparing to head back to California, California Task Force 4 (Oakland Fire Department) was showing up ready to go to work. One of our NASA DART personnel, a K-9 handler, and her dog, deployed with CaTF-4. They continued to work at Ground Zero for the days after CaTF-3 had returned home.

CaTF-3 returned home on September 30, 2001. A chartered aircraft flew us into Moffett Field where the Chief's from the various participating agencies greeted us. The team was then bussed to Menlo Park Fire Station 77 for a grand reception and check out.

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Pallets loaded up and ready to go. (54,593 bytes) Roger Miller and Mark Tangney checking in at Station 77. (35,054 bytes) Mark Tangney going through his personal pack. (65,338 bytes) Prepping for fit testing of respirators. (30,805 bytes) Rescue Squad B at the Travis AFB passenger terminal. (10,904 bytes)
Kelly Kasser and Rex Ianson on the C-5B transport. (45,601 bytes) The entryway into the CA-TF3 Base of Operations at Javits Center. (39,123 bytes) Bedding for CA-TF3 day shift at Javits Convention Center. (56,557 bytes) The K-9s got no special treatment when it came to bedding. (48,884 bytes) Night shift at least had a place to sleep that wasn't so loud. (66,834 bytes)
All hands briefing by the Task Force Leader in the CA-TF3 base of operations at Javits. (61,402 bytes) Roger Miller helping to prepare atmospheric analyzers. (43,704 bytes) Dormitory for the Rapid Response Task Force 2. (12,931 bytes) Bedding at Ft. Totten was a lot nicer than Javits. (25,438 bytes) Equipment was stored in a tent. (49,259 bytes)
The team transport for a emergency response. (52,169 bytes) Mark Tangney with the rescue rig used by RRTF2. (20,714 bytes) RRTF2 training at Ft Totten. (61,067 bytes) Rescue Squad B practicing some rope work. (80,323 bytes) Rescue Squad B practicing some torch work. (74,055 bytes)
There was some time for touring around Ft Totten. (10,775 bytes) Mark Tangney ready to do his part in homeland defense. (19,772 bytes) RRTF1, back at Javits, did some area familiarization tours and stopped by FDNY fire station. (212,598 bytes) RRTF1 also saw some of New York City as New York City is known. (81,159 bytes) Some of the buildings just adjacent to the World Trade Centers. (22,556 bytes)
Ground Zero. (22,471 bytes) More Ground Zero. (19,569 bytes) Searching a void space. (84,398 bytes) Another void space search. (63,387 bytes) This is a rubble pile. (99,174 bytes)
Some more of the rubble pile. (90,958 bytes) Night operations at ground zero. (68,915 bytes) Debris removal and torching. (66,087 bytes) One of Squad B has made a find. (93,610 bytes) Roger Miller coming back to the command post after searching the pile with a search camera. (47,757 bytes)
John Preston heading back to the forward staging area after working the pile. (19,582 bytes) John Preston conferring with the task force leader. (90,631 bytes) This is what it feels like after working a shift at Ground Zero. (41,609 bytes) Mark Tangney was even more determined to get some much-needed rest. (51,955 bytes) Phil Snyder can only give the
Mark and Holly thanking one of the food servers near Ground Zero. (14,324 bytes) Rescue Squad B at Ground Zero forward staging. (8,755 bytes) After working his tail off for a 12-hour shift, Roger Miller went to the top of a nearby building to look down on Ground Zero. (11,475 bytes) Paul Brown helping to coordinate getting things ready to come home. (54,304 bytes) Waiting at McGuire AFB for a plane to take us home. (63,877 bytes)
California Task Force 3 US&R just prior to boarding plane to come home. (43,703 bytes) Chief Dolci meeting his guys coming home to Moffett Field. (12,402 bytes)      

 

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