EOLIA, MO – “September 11, 2001. I remember I was sitting down to take a break and turned the television on and saw what had happened,” Eolia firefighter Mark Harry said.
It’s the moment that shook America.
“I was only four,” Eolia firefighter Reid LaFave said. “So, really the only thing I remember is seeing the buildings with smoke coming out of the firetrucks.”
Seeing heroic men and women rushing to the path of destruction, while helpless victims tried to run for safety.
“I was glued to that television,” Harry said thinking back on the day. “I couldn’t pull away. It affected me very deeply.”
17-years later, firefighters Mark Harry and Reid LaFave remember where they were in that heart-stopping moment.
But even their touching memories don't seem to compare to this now-Eolia fire truck that played an intricate role in the aftermath.
“This truck belonged North Arlington, New Jersey Fire Department,” LaFave said. “It was called shortly after the second tower collapsed because it had a cascade system.
Those high-pressure gas cylinders – still equipped on the truck – provided the needed oxygen for a countless number of firefighters who worked days on end.
Nowadays, the cascade system doesn’t work anymore, and it wasn’t the only thing out of order when the volunteer fire department got the truck in their hands.
“This truck had absolutely no engine in it,” LaFave said. “No engine block, nothing. So, we had to get another from Idaho.”
For about eight months, a team of six volunteer firefighters worked tirelessly to bring the truck back to life.
The once hot-yellow truck is now painted blue and white and after assisting in saving thousands of lives, it’s still being a pillar in a much smaller community.
“This truck is our primary, number 1 rescue vehicle,” Harry said.
From North Arlington, New Jersey to Lincoln County, Missouri and now Eolia, the memories attached to this fire truck are miles apart, but its role in one of America’s dark hours will forever be timeless.
“To know that this truck was there and that it saw it all,” LaFave said. “It’s very unique.”
Through the community’s help, the fire department was able to afford to restore the fire truck.