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Philadelphia Firefighters Look Back On 9/11 Search And Rescue Efforts

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Michelle Durham Michelle Durham
She's reported from inside a burning building, from the flight deck of...
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By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On this day, we pause to remember the terrorist attacks in this country that took so many lives.

For three Philadelphia Firefighters who were deployed as part of a task force to help in the rescue and recovery efforts at ground zero, it’s an experience they carry with them every day.

Chief Craig Murphy, a Special Operations Battalion Chief for the Philadelphia Fire Department, remembers when he reached the pile on September 12th.

“When we got there,” Murphy recalls “210 stories had compressed into eight stories.”

Lieutenant Mike Foley says they had a job to do, but their minds were always on those who were lost.

“You had different buckets for different things,” Foley said. “You tried to separate everything to get things back to people.”

And in that large debris pile, along with thousands of civilian casualties, were men and women they trained with and called friends.

“Ray Meisenheimer, I always had a connection with him. I remember walking through one of the buildings, people would etch messages in the dust,” Acting Captain Mike Whalen said. “Seeing his name just stopped me in my tracks.”

Chief Murphy remembers the 343 firefighters lost that day.

“They were people who knew exactly what kind of job they were going into. I know exactly what may happen every time I walk out of the front door. In spite of that, I will risk it all. And we all will risk it all.”

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