Clad in a firefighter jacket, Conner Wilson, 3, smiled brightly as he stood on Rescue 5 to pose for a photo.
Rescue 5, one of the fire trucks used during the rescue operation after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City, visited the Flint Hill Fire Department Wednesday. The truck, along with its counterpart Rescue 4, travels the country as part of the Remembrance Rescue Project, a non-profit created by firefighters that aims to educate children and residents about 9-11.
“It gives people something to put their hands on what was there that day,” said Phillip Bryant, member of the Remembrance Rescue Project.
Residents took pictures next to the truck, learned of its significance and remembered the crew, which perished during the attacks, in which hijacked jetliners were intionally crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
Rescue 5 was stationed at Staten Island, where it left that morning with 12 crew members. It came back with one, Bryant said.
While Rescue 5 honors the past, it also brightened the future for Wilson, a big fan of firefighters.
“I think he will be a fireman one day,” said Wilson’s mother Kellee Wilson. “[The truck] gives us an opportunity to see something so monumental for our country.”
For Fort Mill resident Corey Welliver, the truck’s visit hit close to home. Welliver’s father, Richard Welliver, was part of the FDNY Rescue 4 - Engine 292 crew during the attacks.
Even though he was supposed to be off work that day, Welliver said his father was called in when the attacks occurred. Richard spent the next six months after the attacks assisting with cleaning the disaster areas and putting out small fires.
Welliver said he does not know much about his father’s experience.
“He doesn’t really like talking about it,” he said.
Richard earned three Medals of Valor, one of which for his service on Sept. 11.
After spending 25 years with the FDNY, Richard retired and the family moved to Fort Mill, where they have lived for six years. Richard was also a volunteer fireman for 30 years.
Welliver, now 18, is following in his father’s footsteps plans on becoming a firefighter.
The truck also resonates with Jessica DeAngelis, who moved to Fort Mill six years ago from Upstate New York where she lived for 27 years.
“It brings back memories,” she said.
DeAngelis brought her daughter Allie, 3, to see the truck.
“It’s nice to see [the truck] go around the country,” she said. “Never forget.”
DeAngelis’ mother Barbara Ambrose lived in Upstate New York her whole life before moving to Fort Mill three years ago.
Though she was about 80 miles north of the city, Ambrose said she still remembers her glass table breaking as the second tower fell.
“Hopefully [the truck] will make people understand what really happened,” she said.
The Flint Hill Fire Department used the opportunity to teach residents about their training and answer their questions, Lieutenant Jeff Nash said.
“All of us are part of this community and are there to help when people need us the most,” he said.
Nash said bringing Rescue 5 to the Department was an opportunity the members did not think they would ever get.
“We honor those who served by representing them in South Carolina,” he said. “It’s a privilege to do that.”
During the truck’s visit, money raised from T-shirt and hat sales went toward the Remembrance Project, upkeep and fuel cost for Rescue 5 and Rescue 4. Rescue 5 will remain at the Charlotte Fire Department through December.
For more information about the Project or to donate, go to remembrance.com.