On Sept. 11, 2001, firefighters Gary Box and David Wooley, with the Fire Department of New York City, answered the call for a job that would be their last.
At precisely 8:47 a.m., when the first plane taken over by terrorists hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the pair, together with hundreds of fellow responders, scaled 110 floors, endangering their lives for the lives of those trapped inside the fiery skyscraper.
Sixteen years later, they were remembered by firefighters Shane Woolly and Seth Shelton of the Ardmore Fire Department.
The pair, and 341 fellow firefighters, participated Sept. 16 in the annual Oklahoma City 9-11 Stairclimb. The climb, which has happened each year in Oklahoma City since it expanded from Dallas five years ago, mimics the conditions first responders in New York City faced. Each firefighter is assigned the name of a fallen firefighter, whose ID they place on a board atop the Cotter Ranch Building.
This year was Shelton’s first year to scale the tower after Woolly spread the word throughout the
department.
Even with intense training, the climb, he said, was exhausting.
But the scaling of the stairs and the resounding ring of the bell in solidarity with a fallen firefighter is a solemn reminder for every firefighter who attended, he said.
“You get into this job because you love helping people,” Shelton said. “God forbid anything like that happens, but when the day comes, it’s a constant reminder that as first responders, we’ll be there, and we’ll do what has to be done.”
Woolly has participated in the Oklahoma City climb since it began. Each year, he braves the tower in remembrance of the boots on the ground of those who accepted their fate.
Woolly chose the name of David Wooley for not only their eternal bond as first responders, but for their common namesake.
“The final flight of stairs and placing the person’s ID tag you represented on the board, and the ringing of the bell,” Woolly said. “There really is a sense of accomplishment at that point knowing that you completed it.”