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They didn't have to say anything'

MFD sits down with Rescue 1

By Staff
SEPT. 11  Amtrak Police Officer Alex Colon said he was working as a plainclothes officer on the day of the attack. "They ordered us to get into uniform and go to the Office of Emergency Management," he said. "As we were driving down, the scene was so incredible. We had to stop and look and that's what prevented us from going any further. Then we heard this cracking noise and the building imploded and people were running toward us. We jumped into the car and high-tailed it out of there. Ten blocks away, we stopped and sat there in shock. Then we started helping some people who were having asthma attacks from it." Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Editor's note: Staff writer Marianne Todd accompanied a group of local firefighters that departed Union Station Friday bound for New York. The group delivered donations Saturday from the people of Meridian to the families of fallen New York City firefighters. Today, they are scheduled to view Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Center. See Monday's edition of The Meridian Star for continuing coverage.
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 4, 2001
NEW YORK, N.Y. New York firefighters were men of few words on Saturday when a team of Meridian firefighters came to visit, to share their grief and offer relief.
The Meridian team made Rescue Co. 1 its first stop after arriving at Pennsylvania Station. Eleven men from Rescue 1 were killed when the World Trade Center's twin towers collapsed; seven bodies have been recovered.
Toughest firefighter' in New York City
One member of the fire department was noticeably missing, Joe Angelini, the man introduced as the "toughest firefighter" in New York City when Meridian Fire Chief Bunky Partridge last visited.
LaFemina appears to be a man of few words, as are most of the firefighters in the station. Meridian firefighter Gerald Mabry said it's understandable.
Meridian Public Relations Officer Jimmy Hoffer asked each of the five New York firefighters on duty to sign a yellow ribbon. It will be placed on Meridian's Memory Tree.
Walls of memories at Rescue Co. 1
Rescue 1 was one of the first crews on the scene after the planes hit the twin towers, LaFemina said. The exterior of the station is adorned with flowers, candles, photographs, letters and cards. Inside, the letters, signs and photographs of children hang on the station's antiquated walls.
LaFemina's words are evident from the photographs hanging on the station's walls. One wall bears photographs of several rescues of children. Another wall displays the rescue of a woman when a building collapsed in 1985. The photos are strewn throughout the building, too many to count, but they bear witness to the endurance of the firefighters there.
After a brief visit, the Meridian firefighters handed them a check for $15,000, money donated by residents of Meridian and Lauderdale County. The New Yorkers, who said they have received no funds from the American Red Cross, were grateful and speechless.
Partridge said he plans to give the remaining money raised nearly $10,000 to the New York Fire Department as soon as funds can be transmitted. The team will visit Ground Zero on Sunday, where they hope to convey their grief and offer help.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at or call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236.