17 Years Later: The San Diego firefighters sent to NYC after the - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

17 Years Later: The San Diego firefighters sent to NYC after the attacks

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - Various events took place around San Diego County Tuesday to commemorate and pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Some San Diego first responders were among those called to duty in New York City 17 years ago.

Retired Escondido firefighter Pete Ordille was at Ground Zero to help recover bodies of those who died. “It’s been 17 years, but it seems like yesterday. We will never forget the operation itself and the mission we had – and all the people whose lives were lost.”

To make sure we never forget, in front of the Valley Center Fire station a piece of the twin towers that fell will be part of a permanent memorial – to forever serve as a reminder of the tragedy.

San Diego Fire Captain Johnny Flores was also sent to Ground Zero. He said he’ll never forget the smells and the sight as he arrived on scene. “I was a newer firefighter. Pretty new in my career. The buildings open up and you see this big seven to ten story pile of twisted metal with steam coming out. People working in different areas.”

Captain Flores was there with San Diego Fire Battalion Chief David Connor on a recovery mission. Their goal was to find anything to help bring closure to families. Seventeen years later, Chief Connor said, “it just gives me perspective on life to appreciate each day – appreciate my family and appreciate where I live.”

San Diego Miramar College's fire tech program held two memorial events, at 9 and 11 a.m. The first ceremony was a formal remembrance by members of the program and included the ringing of a fire bell in honor of the 343 firefighters killed in New York. At 11 a.m., the school presented displays honoring first responders, including 412 flags planted in Compass Circle for the 412 first responders killed.

Shortly after lowering the flag to half-staff, ROTC members raised it again to "recognize our joint spirit of resolve," said SDSU Theatre, Television and Film professor Randy Reinholz.

At 2:30 p.m., the USS Midway Museum held a memorial ceremony with the FDNY Retirees of San Diego, the Wounded Warriors Project, and the National City and San Diego fire departments.

Billed as the largest 9/11 memorial on the West Coast, the ceremony was scheduled to include a reading of the names of first responders killed in the attacks, a 21-gun salute, the playing of Taps and a Harbor Police fireboat water display.

Police and fire departments across the county held moments of silence and other tributes to 9/11 victims, while the San Diego City Council and Mayor Kevin Faulconer declared it Detective Otis "Odie" Gallop Day. Gallop, who joined the San Diego police force in 1990 and recently retired after serving as a patrol officer, SWAT team member and as part of the executive protection detail that protects the mayor. He now works as a technical adviser to the CBS show "S.W.A.T."

Gallop called the proclamation "bittersweet" as he paid tribute to officers killed in action while noting that he was fortunate to be able to reach retirement.

"Odie is an icon of what it means to be San Diego's finest," said City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole.

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