Former NYPD officers living on Grand Strand reflect on 9/11
Sat, 10 Sep 2011 04:25:40 GMT —
Brendan O'connor and Mike Milne sing to help them get away from it all.
"We spend more time with each other than we do with our wives which makes everyone happy," says Milne. "Our new career is an escape from all that stuff."
Once a year, the thing that the two men are trying to escape from comes back when they sing a tribute for the attacks of 9/11.
Both are now retired and living on the Grand Strand, they served that fateful day nearly ten years ago.
"It probably took me two weeks to even cry because it was during that robot mode," says O'connor. "You were still in shock. I don't think I smiled or joked around until the middle of October."
"To be at the scene, the pictures the TV shots don't do it justice. It was just so overwhelming," says Milne. "After a week or two, you knew it wasn't rescue anymore. It was recovery. That's when it would start to hit us."
366 New York City firefighters, emergency responders and police officers lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, 5 of whom were their friends. For almost a month after the attack the two men dug in the rubble left by the fallen towers with their bare hands.
"We dug for our friends," says Milne. "That was the tough part. You went down there to rescue and everything living aside from a few people that were found was pulverized to dust."
With the five fallen firefighters always in their minds, there's one man in particular that still strikes a chord with Milne. He carries a picture of Sergeant Tim Roy all the time.
"Timmy's body was found St. Patrick's Day 2002," says Milne. "Five months after he died, they found his body."
With the tenth anniversary just two days away, the men say the memories of that day still haunt them.
"Seems like yesterday," says O'connor. "I still have nightmares and we both still suffer from PTSD."
"It's not something that leaves us too much," says Milne. "It's always there. I can't believe it's a year no less ten years. It never leaves you."
Closure is not a word the men accept when talking about that day.
"I don't know if we want any closure. We want to remember our guys and gals until it's our time," says Milne. "On a daily basis people will come up to us and want to thank us for service of something that we did ten years ago which was basically doing our jobs. It's humbling for us to accept that on the behalf of the real heroes who are no longer with us."