- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

The 70 men and women of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department's Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One returned home yesterday to hugs, kisses and American flags after seven days of looking for survivors in the debris of last Tuesday's terrorist strike on the Pentagon.
But with at least 300 fellow firefighters dead or missing after similar attacks on the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York City, their thoughts were on going north to help find members of another family that won't have homecomings, but funerals.
"I wish we could come home, say hello, and go back up there," Technician Mike Davis said as he held his 4-year-old son, Joey. "Fire departments are just a big family all around the world."
Mr. Davis said "it kind of hurts" that not only did his crew have to end operations at the Pentagon without finding survivors, but also that New York firefighters he trained with were killed trying to save others.
There are 125 Pentagon personnel and 64 persons who were aboard American Airlines Flight 77 listed as dead or missing from last Tuesday's suicide terrorist attack on the Pentagon, when the Boeing 757 slammed into the west side of the Pentagon.
"Whatever they need us to do," Mr. Davis said of what he and his teams would do. "Even if it's cutting the grass or letting them cry on our shoulders."
His wife, Kim, said she understands her husband's need to help fellow firefighters because they are just like "one great big family," even though she, Joey and 6-year-old Brittany don't get to see their "hero."
Not one of the 300 or so family members who greeted one of the elite 27 Federal Emergency Management Agency crews at Fairfax County's fire training center yesterday said they would regret their loved ones going to New York.
"They don't get to have their husbands, wives or spouses at homes," Mrs. Davis said of relatives of New York's fallen firefighters.
Vivian Slemp said she "is all for it" if her husband, Dallas, a master technician, goes to New York.
Mr. Slemp, a 23-year veteran of the fire service and father of 7-year-old Kori, said it is difficult for him to be home in some ways because, through two classes he had taken in the past year, he knew some of the firefighters who were killed in the collapse of the Trade Center's twin towers.
"That was the worst," Mr. Slemp said, eyes welling with tears.
Fairfax County Fire Chief Edward L. Stinnette said he knows his men want to go to New York and help.
"Every day I answer the question, 'Chief, when do we go, what can we do?'" Chief Stinnette said, adding that his response each time is "I don't know."
FEMA officials who asked not to be identified said because there is so much recovery work to do in New York, it is likely the Fairfax and Montgomery County teams, both of which were "deactivated" Monday, could go to New York by the end of the month.
Capt. R. Richard Mohler, president of the local International Association of Fire Fighters union, said his group sent six persons from Virginia to New York to help provide stress and mental health services.
Those services, he said, are needed so firefighters many of whom have seen their partners die can go back "on the pile" to search for bodies and evidence.
"Mentally and emotionally, it's hampering their effort," Capt. Mohler said. "But they have got to be focused … because they have to go back."

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