Story by Sgt. Antonio Rubio
IWAKUNI, Japan – One by one, Marines and firefighters climbed the training tower during a 9/11 remembrance climb aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Sept. 9, 2015, to honor those who lost their lives on 9/1
Participants included Aircraft Rescue Firefighting, the Provost Marshal’s Office and the Special Reaction Team Marines with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, fuel division Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 and Japanese firefighters.
“I think it’s a good remembrance – the focus is right,” said Col. Robert Boucher, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni. “The event started off with the pass alarm for firemen down. It started with a somber note – remember 9/11.”
Each participant carried with them a photo of a fallen firefighter as they climbed the training towers 18 times for a total of 110 floors, the same amount of floors as the twin towers.
“It’s incredible, knowing that these brave men and women went inside this building and not only did they go up many floors with full gear, they were rescuing victims despite their own safety,” said Sgt. Javaze L. McDonald, lead firefighter with ARFF. “We did this event where there was no stress involved and limited gear. Doing what they did is something you can probably only do with adrenaline rushing through your body. ”
Those involved grew weary as they continued climbing with gear accumulating to more than 60 additional pounds. McDonald said he grew a true appreciation after this event.
“It’s an absolutely humbling experience,” said McDonald. “This hits home for emergency personnel – firefighters, police officers, medical personnel – because that could have been easily one of us. I honestly believe that is something anyone here would do without a second thought.”
Having completed the rigorous challenge, participants gathered around to reflect on the sacrifices made on 9/11 by the brave men and women in uniform.
“This is a reminder that any Marine, on any given day, could be called to go into harm’s way and these firefighters and crash fire rescue guys live that every day as well,” said Boucher.