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Thread: Engine 201

  1. #1
    Moderator patries's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
    Heemskerk (the Netherlands)

    Engine 201

    Last edited by patries; 01-06-2002 at 07:12 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    N.Y.C. firefighter glad he came

    N.Y.C. firefighter glad he came

    Date: 11/19/01

    Cassie Tarpley Star Staff Writer

    SHELBY - Mike Thomas is smiling now and talking rather easily about what he and fellow New York firefighters have been through.

    At least he did Sunday, after three days in North Carolina as a representative of Engine Co. 201 from Brooklyn at fundraisers staged by A Dancer's Place in Gastonia.

    Thomas, a guest of former Carolina Panther Willie Green and his wife, Dena, had just finished his third speech to audiences at a benefit dance show and was ready for dinner, but he graciously answered still more questions about Sept. 11, Ground Zero and how life is going on in New York City.

    "That's what people want to know about," said Thomas, a six-year veteran of Co. 201.

    "His department was the first to respond to the South Tower," Green said. "They lost four men - one his best friend. It's difficult for him, but the story needs to be told."

    Engine Co. 201 lost four of its 25 men on Sept. 11, Thomas said.

    "It's ironic that the ticket shows that the engine was dispatched at 9:11 to the South Tower," he said. "One engine responded and only the driver survived, because he had to move his truck."

    His best friend, Greg Buck, remains among the more than 4,000 missing and presumed dead.

    "He and I came on together, went through the academy together and we both were assigned to 201 six years ago," Thomas said. "We clicked right away and became best friends."

    Sept. 11 also left Co. 201 with three orphaned children and another on the way. John Schardt, the father of two, never knew he would be the father of three.

    "She didn't even get a chance to tell him that she was pregnant again," Thomas said. "They were going to go away for the weekend, and she was going to tell him."

    Thomas was on vacation that day, across the river in New Jersey at his parents' home, taking the time to prepare for his upcoming lieutenant's exam.

    "My mom woke me up - I knew immediately we would have to go, and I started packing."

    Back on the job in a few hours, Thomas had to "badge" his way back to the city, showing his fireman's ID to a phalanx of law officers as security tightened around New York.

    "The enormity of it hit when I saw Ground Zero," he said. "All the videos and pictures don't do it justice.

    "It took a couple of weeks for it to sink in. I was running on adrenaline. It was surreal, and maybe I was in denial."

    "Fantastic," Thomas described the response of citizens from their Brooklyn neighborhood and the outpouring from all across the country.

    "As soon as they found out we were missing four people, the neighborhood was fantastic. They set up candles outside the station. People we didn't even know were bringing food ..."

    "I just want to bring a message from New York that we really appreciate what's going on in the rest of the country - the donations, the letters from school kids, the fundraisers. I'm really impressed by what's going on, and we're very thankful."

    Like most Americans, A Dancer's Place owners Wayne and Cathy Balentine and their daughter Martine McLamb wanted to be able to "do something" and a dance show fit their talents. After five weeks of calls to get a firefighter to come to the benefit, they had almost given up.

    Then Wednesday, everything fell into place. The Balentines paid for the plane ticket, and the Greens offered their home for Thomas to stay.

    The Greens' daughter, Kendra Whitworth, was among the dancers for the shows.

    "I think it turned out pretty good," she said, "but it could have been better. I think the people who came were true Americans. Some said (the $5 ticket price) was too much, but it shouldn't be about the money - it should be about America."

    Thomas said that is the attitude he and fellow firefighters see.

    "We're just amazed at the support - it's fantastic. That's why I was happy to come down," he said.

    "I was really quite anxious - I didn't know what to expect, didn't know what the show was, where to stand, even what flight I was on, but I didn't care. I was honored and glad to do it.

    "I was happy to come. I know the rest of the country has been taking care of us, and they are really the source of our strength."

  3. #3
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    South West



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