By Conrad Dudderar
Members of the Yukon Fire Department were among 343 firefighters who recently honored fellow firefighters killed during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
All carrying their heavy firefighting gear, seven Yukon firefighters ascended 110 floors at Leadership Square on Sept. 9 for the 2023 Oklahoma City 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
The 12th annual event paired firefighters with remembrance identification badges on lanyards of those killed on the Sept. 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City.
Each participating firefighter wears the ID tag around their neck to represent that fallen firefighter.
There are 343 firefighters from across Oklahoma who climb each year – one for each firefighter who died on 9/11.
“It’s a really awesome experience because you’re reminded what you’re climbing for and those guys who died that day,” said YFD Corp. Ryan Billingsley, who serves on the OKC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Committee. “They ran into the building scared to death that day, with families of their own. I believe it’s really important to remember them and honor them for their sacrifice.”
Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed two commercial airliners – United Flight 175 and American Flight 11 – into the Twin Towers on that fateful day 22 years ago.
YFD personnel participating in this year’s OKC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb were Battalion Chief Brad Homme, Capt. Kirk Dyche, Sgt. Fabian Gallegos, Sgt. Kirk Albers, Sgt. Brent Weaver, firefighter Logan Fertic, and firefighter Brooks Robbins.
FOR THE CAUSE
The non-profit Oklahoma Firefighters Foundation presents the OKC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb annually to raise money to help families of burn survivors and fire responders in times of need.
Since Oklahoma City does not have a 110-story building, participants walk about 3-1/2 trips up and down the stairs of the 31-floor Oklahoma Tower skyscraper.
“You wear all your gear – boots, pants, jacket, helmet, and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) air pack,” Billingsley said.
“It’s important that we do this every year. Over the last 10 years, Yukon has brought one of the bigger groups – especially for being a 42-man department.”
Yukon police officers also have participated in the OKC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb for the past two years.
This year, the Yukon Police Department was represented by Lt. Shelly Seay and officers Daniel Blystone, Tony Dorman and Victoria Dorman.
There were 61 Oklahoma law enforcement officers and eight paramedics who took part in the 2023 event – representing those first responders killed on 9/11.
Civilians joined in the OKC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb for the first time, to represent passengers killed Sept. 11, 2001 on United Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pa.; and American Flight 11.
The Sept. 11th terrorist attacks killed 2,977 people from 93 nations – 2,753 in New York, 184 at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and 40 in Pennsylvania.