Austin firefighters recall assisting at ground zero during 911

September 11, 2001. A date still etched into the memories of Americans 20 years later. 

"I was a firefighter and it was my off day, my wife was getting ready for work …when I turned the TV on The one tower was already on fire, I saw the other plane hit the other tower on live TV like a lot of people did. I got a text saying that we were on alert for being deployed," said Austin Fire division chief Eddie Martinez.

"I was at station 17 which was the station I came out of the Academy at. Early that morning we started watching footage where the first tower had already been struck," said Travis Maher an Austin fire Captian.

Both Captain Maher and division chief Martinez were working as firefighters in Austin when the twin towers fell. Texas A&M task force one wasted no time gathering first responders like these two in order to assist with the aftermath in New York. 

"I think I was just trying to wrap my head around the enormity of the event both from a standpoint of the size and then the standpoint of somebody attacking our country on our soil pretty overwhelming," said Maher.

Captian Maher who was a rookie firefighter at the time and division chief Martinez spent 10 long days in ground zero doing everything they can to help. 

"I remember easily every single minute," said Martinez. 

Whenever I hear references of 911 in an instant I see pictures in my mind, smells in my nose, feelings of being scared being sad the unknown with no experience all that comes through like a flash," said Maher.

20 years later, the two say they will never forget the courage and bravery they witnessed. "You could lose your life doing this job. It could be something as big as an incident like 911 or could be something as small as a house fire," said Maher.

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