Newport Beach firefighters ‘never forget’ on 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks
Newport Beach Fire Department Capt. Cameron Hutzler remembers where he was when he heard the news on Sept. 11, 2001.
Hutzler was 24. He’d only graduated that year from training and wouldn’t be hired on full-time at the Newport Beach Fire Department until January, but was working temporarily as an aide.
He was driving to work around 6:30 in the morning when he heard the first reports come over the radio.
“There were conflicting reports. I was hearing the Sears towers, then the Trade Towers and there were so many reports that were false — the Pentagon,” Hutzler said. “All these things ... ‘What is happening right now?’ It was a feeling that you had.”
When Hutzler arrived at his fire station, he saw nearly the entire staff present practically glued to the television. He himself was curious, but didn’t think he should watch at the risk of looking derelict of his work duties.
“There’s a chain of command and ... I was on the bottom rung. People were just dumbfounded,” Hutlzer said. “They were like, ‘You gotta watch this.’ It’s not customary to watch television. You’re supposed to be the doer; you’re supposed to be the worker. But, they were like, ‘You’re watching history right now.’”
Hutzler thinks back on that day 20 years ago and realizes that was when he was certain he had chosen the right profession.
Early in the morning Saturday, the firefighters at Hutzler’s station on Marigold Avenue lowered the flag half-mast for a moment of silence and listened solemnly to a radio broadcast by the Orange County Fire Authority memorializing the Sept. 11 attacks.
The same was true at firehouses throughout the rest of Newport Beach and across the county, including at the Orange County Fire Authority headquarters in Irvine where a ceremony was held.
County fire Capt. Greg Barta said that the agency committed to honoring a moment of silence annually as it continues to memorialize the 343 firefighters that died in the line of duty.
“That day and [Saturday], it’s a day that united the entire country and the slogan really came out that we will never forget,” Barta said. “That’s our goal with the Orange County Fire Authority is to never forget and I can assure you nor will we ever.”
“This annual ceremony is a way for us to never forget,” Barta said.
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