Oswego Firefighters Remember Fallen Comrades On 9-11

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego Fire Department held a brief service Thursday in memory of those who died on September 11, 2001, especially the 343 firefighters who gave their lives in the rescue attempt.

The department chaplain, Rev. Sebastian Foti, officiated.

<p>Mike Cutro, third from right, takes part in a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.</p>
Mike Cutro, third from right, takes part in a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was a series of coordinated suicide attacks by Islamic extremists belonging to the Al-Qaeda movement on the United States,” he said.

On that morning, they hijacked four commercial jet airliners. Two struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City killing everyone onboard and many others working in the WTC.

Another struck a section of the Pentagon in Washington.

The fourth crashed in an open field as the passengers and crew fought back, preventing the aircraft from reaching its intended target.

“September 11, 2001, wasn’t just the worst day in the history of New York City, it was one of the worst days in American history,” the chaplain said.

The assembled firefighters held a moment of silence of their 343 brother and sister firefighter who died that day.

The memories most people have of Sept. 11, 2001, are small – the size of their TV screen.

For one Oswego firefighter, however, everyday sounds, scents and other things trigger the larger-than-life memories he’ll carry the rest of his life.

Mike Cutro, then a lieutenant, was in New York City for line officer training that day; he and the other members of his class were pressed into service following the attack.

“I don’t remember 9-11 like that (TV news reports). I don’t remember the way everyone else does,” he said following Thursday’s memorial service at the eastside fire station in Oswego.

A lot of people remember only what they saw on TV, he noted.

“That’s not, to me, 9-11.  9-11 comes up it brings me right back to that FDNY van going into Ground Zero,” he explained. “It’s just different. If you were there, you saw the huge amount of destruction; you couldn’t possibly fathom the scope of the destruction from looking at pictures on a TV screen.”

What he saw that day, he’ll never forget, he said, adding that it’s hard to explain.

“It’s hard for me to realize it’s already been seven years,” he said. “Whenever there’s something on the news about it, it brings me back to Ground Zero; the smells, the dust, the odors, the body bags.”

Everybody remembers it differently, he said.

“There are many sights and sounds that bring me right back (to Ground Zero). It’s such a huge impacting event in my life. To come from the small city of Oswego and happen to be in NYC when the towers got hit,” he said.

There’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about that September morning.

He remembers it from being there – “the smoke, the destruction, the fear in people’s eyes” – and the fear shared by his family here in Oswego.

“My oldest daughter (an OHS sophomore) just called me from the high school, to tell me she loved me and missed me. She’s in school and they’re talking about 9-11 and it made her think about what happened that day. Seven years ago, they didn’t know where I was,” he said.

His youngest daughter is in the middle school.

“She took a picture of me at the towers on 9-11 to class today. In the picture I’m standing outside looking at the skeleton (of the WTC). She took it to school today to talk about it. It’s important. It brings back a lot of stuff,” he said.

“There are certain things throughout the year that bring me right back to it, the smell of something, certain calls,” the veteran firefighter said. “When you have a ceremony like, this you start thinking back to all the things we did and that we saw.”