Local firefighters remember 9/11

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – For the New York Firefighters who responded to the attack on the World Trade Towers, the memories of that day are seared in their psyches.

Joe Finley of Ladder Company 7 was one of those first responders, and he came to the USS Midway for San Diego’s annual memorial services.

On that September Tuesday, Joe Finley responded from his home on Long Island, and as he made his way into the city he saw the smoke billowing from the towers.

He knew right away it would be a horrible day for New York and for the country.

“It looked like a nuclear attack. Like somebody dropped a bomb on Manhattan,” he said.

He retired a year after 9/11, and he traveled 3,000 miles to San Diego’s ceremony so the rest of the country will not forget what New Yorker’s Firefighters and their families cannot forget.

“People talked about moving on and closure and that kind of thing. There really is no closure for an event like this. It was an act of cowardice, and they murdered almost 3,000 people, and it’s devastating to each individual person. Its not just a number, not just 3,000. Each one of those people, their lives and probably for another two generations of their families will be affected,” he said.

Joe Finley retired as a firefighter, with respiratory problems after 13 years on the job, but he was one of the lucky ones.

“We knew that there was a good chance that none of them would be able to make it out. Some of them did, but it was looking pretty bad,” he said.

Jerry Bresnan and Peter Tondero retired years ago. They live in San Diego now, but they remain a part of the New York family of firefighters.

Tondero said, “it was just a complete day of mourning, silence, no conversation with the wife and children. I just wanted to be by myself. That’s pretty much how it was, and it was like that for a long time.”

Peter Tondero has flashbacks on what would he have done if he were there. Those thoughts never go away, not for him, or really, any New York Firefighter.

Both Bresnan and Tondero were in San Diego during the attacks, but their stories and reactions they each shared feels as if the two had been in New York City during the attacks.

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