Fire Capt00000000

Tuscaloosa. AL (WVUA)- Tuesday, September 11th resonates with so many Americans because it changed America forever.

Although its been 17 years since America was attacked, WVUA 23 spoke with Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith, who after a decade opens up about his experience in dealing with the aftermath of 9/11.

“It’s something that you don’t forget. I remember a lot of little details that are burned in my memory forever,” said Chief Smith.

17 years ago, Smith went to New York City to help after the 9/11 disaster. He was there with the Florida One Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

“I remember pulling up to the driveway that morning after taking the kids to school and my dad called and told me a plane struck the world trade center. Just like everyone else in the country…when the second plane hit then the first tower collapsed and second tower collapsed we knew the magnitude in the number of lives that had to be lost.”

10-minutes after the second tower collapsed is when a team commander in Fort Walton notified Smith that he and other first responders would be deployed to help staff on a 12-hour basis in any way possible.

“It was very traumatic in watching the recovery operations. We were there from just a few days after the attack through the end of the month. It took a little bit for some of us to get use to. Every once in a while you’d hear those jets and for the first few days most people would stop and look up to see what’s going on.”

To see the country pull together whether people were different races, religions everyone came together with a sense of hope and resilience.

“Just the overwhelming support of the community. New Yorkers, New Jersey people it just overwhelmed us. They helped us get through it but in a certain way I think they helped us get through it also.”

The support displayed Tuesday around Tuscaloosa County in remembrance of 9/11 and first responders deeply moved Chief Smith.

“It makes you proud not only to be an American but in my case proud to be an emergency responder. When you ride down the street and see the American flags it’s maybe just not the flags but what’s behind the flags it’s the people and that’s what means the most.”

13 years after the attack, in 2014, “One World Trade Center” opened up. Many said it made the New York City skyline whole again in Lower Manhattan.

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