BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon eventually triggered two wars. Now two brothers from Maryland who fought the flames as firefighters will spend the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in uniform in Iraq.
Alex DeMetrick has more on these brothers in arms.
Jonathan and Carl McKlveen are part of Maryland’s National Guard. They are also firefighters in Prince George’s County. Ten years ago, they got the call to the Pentagon.
“It was just an eerie feeling to come around that corner and see the smoke coming out of the Pentagon,” Jon said.
“And that was probably the part that hit me in the gut the most, coming over the 14th Street bridge and seeing the smoke over the Potomac,” Carl said.
The brothers were among those assigned to fight the fire from inside the building.
“And you just hit this wall of heat that just backed you up. It was intense. The water was boiling underneath of it. Come to find out, we were right above the fuselage,” Jon said.
“You had engine parts, all kinds of luggage, everything strewn out around the Pentagon,” Carl said.
But that wasn’t the worst part. There were the people.
“They were caught in the blast and where they were caught is where they were caught,” Carl said.
“You could see where people were still at their desks, just never made it away from their desks. That was hard for me, leaving military comrades laying there at the time,” Jon said.
Ten years later, Jon and Carl’s National Guard unit is heading to Iraq to support air operations. That means days of packing up equipment. Their jobs deal with communications. Carl has been deployed before; this is Jon’s first time.
“It’ll make the deployment a little easier. I will have somebody to fall back on that has experience being deployed. It makes me feel a little better and it makes my wife feel a little better,” Jon said.
This mission is part of America’s withdrawal from Iraq and, for the brothers, something of a bookend to 9/11.
“You’re there in the middle of it and 10 years later, you’re back in the middle of it,” Jon said.
“And now I feel I am going back to what is a closure with Operation New Dawn,” Carl said.
And they’ll finish that mission together, just like the Pentagon fire.
“We’re right face, forward march. We got a mission to do; we signed the contract,” Carl said.
Jon and Carl won’t be attending a 9/11 ceremony at the Pentagon. Their guard unit left Maryland Sept. 1.
The 10th anniversary is this Sunday. There will be a CBS special Sunday at 8 p.m. hosted by Robert DeNiro.