Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

September 12, 2013

Tahlequah firefighters pay tribute to fallen brothers on 9/11 anniversary

TAHLEQUAH — Somewhere amid their 2,000-plus-stair march up and down the steps of Doc Wadley Stadium early Wednesday morning, a harsh reality set in for nine Tahlequah firefighters.

While they would be able to take a break from the grueling 110-story trek, or decide to call it off when their lungs or legs could take no more, hundreds of first responders in New York City didn’t have that option on Sept. 11, 2001.

Instead, the men of the FDNY grabbed their bunker gear that morning and raced up flight after flight of stairs, trying to save the lives of those who were inside the World Trade Center towers when terrorists directed planes into the buildings.

Those firefighters faced death and destruction every step of their way, perhaps never expecting that two pillars of America’s strength would come crashing down around them in so little a time.

It forever changed New York City’s skyline and the lives of thousands of families who lost loved ones.

When the dust settled on that day 12 years ago, 343 men of the FDNY lost their lives to the horror that befell the U.S.

Tahlequah firefighters – along with dozens of students, ROTC members, other first responders and a few community members – gathered at Northeastern State University at 6 a.m. for a memorial stair climb in honor of the first responders who died as they tried to climb some 110 stories at the WTC.

“Push forward!” “Good job, brother!” “You’ve got this!”

The words of encouragement rang out around the stadium – a far cry from the frantic screams made inside the towers in NYC.

“They only made it to 78,” Tahlequah firefighter Cody Nissen said as he finished his climb and slumped into the metal bleachers of the stadium to catch his breath. Sweat dripped from Nissen’s face as the sun began to rise and participants began to end their journey.

“The firefighters in New York City only made it to about the 78th floor,” he said again.

Nissen and the eight other Tahlequah firefighters who trudged along Wednesday – Nick Perkins, Sean Valdez, Capt. Aaron Garrett, Lt. Justin Hackworth, Brad Hale, Anthony Margarit, Josh Brinkley and Kyle Hix – all donned their bunker gear when the climb began.

Perkins knew going into Wednesday morning’s activity it would be harsh, especially carrying the extra weight of his gear.

“It was pretty brutal,” Perkins said when he finished.

“Two thousand and seven steps; 110 stories. Brutal.”

Valdez said the trudge up and down the stadium steps gave him a new appreciation for what firefighters in New York City experienced on 9/11. Participants made 12 rounds up and down the stadium stairs to hit the 2,000-plus steps.

“We shed our gear on the eighth round up,” said Valdez. “It was brutal.”

As each jaunt around the stadium ended, Garrett rang the fire department’s “last alarm” bell. When the last firefighter came through, he sounded the bell three times and others who had finished broke into applause.

“I was talking to Aaron about participating in this, and he was talking about us wearing our gear,” Hackworth said before the climb began Wednesday morning. “I told him I wasn’t sure I could do it. He said, ‘Well, they did it in New York City, and they just showed up for work.’ He was right. So we do this in their honor.”

-- jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest