News: Osan fire department honors firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001
Story by Tech. Sgt. Chad Thompson
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — “We will never forget” is a phrase many Americans have heard thousands of times since Sept. 11, 2001, but for some the words go a bit deeper.
The 51st Civil Engineer Squadron fire department held a ceremony here Sept. 11, 2011 to remember and honor the firefighters who lost their lives that fateful day.
“Today marks the 10th anniversary of the attack on New York City’s Twin Towers,” said Tech. Sgt. Paul Garcia. “We are here today to honor those who gave some…and the 343 firefighters who gave all and sacrificed their lives to save others.”
The remembrance ceremony began with a tradition that dates back to the 1800s, “Striking the Four Fives.”
Long before today’s electronics' age and fire alarms, daily messages were passed from fire house to fire house by a system of bells and telegraph.
When a firefighter died in the line of duty, headquarters would transmit five bell strikes, repeated four times. This custom has continued through the years and is still used as a form of rendering final honors to departed comrades, Garcia said.
The somber silence was extinguished as the series of bell strikes echoed throughout the Osan firehouse. The rain falling outside seemed befitting of this day, as these brave warriors remembered their brothers and sisters who sacrificed everything the Osan skies wept with them.
After the echoes ceased Chaplain (Capt.) Alexander Palomaria, 51st Fighter Wing chaplain, gave the invocation and read “The Firefighter’s Prayer:”
When I am called to duty, God,
Wherever flames may rage;
Give me strength to save a life,
Whatever be its age.
Let me embrace a little child,
Before it is too late;
Or save an older person from,
The horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert,
And hear the weakest shout;
And quickly and efficiently,
To put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling,
To give the best in me;
To guard my friend and neighbor,
And protect their property.
And if according to your will,
While on duty I must answer death’s call;
Bless with your protecting hand,
My family, one and all.
The ceremony concluded with a flag folding and the playing of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.