PORTSMOUTH — Sept. 11, 2001, started out as a typical day for many Americans but quickly became a day no one would ever forget.
One member from the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORT) and local funeral home director, R. Scott Davis, received a phone call he thought he never would.
“I saw the second plane hit the tower and the whole day, I just stayed on my television,” said Davis. “I was shocked when my phone rang, and they told me I needed to go to New York now.”
Davis said the thought of getting called out was in the back of his mind, but since it was a terrorist attack, he was not sure since he typically goes to hurricane and plane crash sites. He would never have dreamed it would happen so fast.
He then drove to Perrysburg, OH, to meet with several other team members and to then drive to Chicago, IL, where a C-130 was waiting to fly the team into New York.
“There was never a doubt in my mind. It was like you’re going, this is what you do for a living, and you’re going to go help our country,” said Davis. “The whole thing was very emotional, I was leaving behind my wife who was pregnant, two kids, my mom, and the business, but my family and the whole community were so supportive.”
The plane was surrounded by fighter jets on each side to escort the passengers into the Air Force base in New York.
“It was super eerie to be on a plane that night because I assume we were one of the only planes in US air space that night,” said Davis. “The whole experience from the time I got the phone call to the time I came home was unforgettable.”
Once Davis arrived with the Portable Morgue Unit in New York, they set up a temporary morgue and began helping with identification. The team also worked very closely with the New York Police Department and New York City Fire Department.
“I didn’t feel fear. It was more of anger and wanting to know what we could do to help these people and their families,” said Davis. “The NYPD and FDNY were hurting so bad and were so upset.”
Davis said because of the experience, he became good friends with both departments and still stays in touch with them to this day.
“The NYPD wanted to make sure we were able to be there for the first baseball game after 9/11 where I got to be a part of the pregame ceremony and holding the flag was by far the most patriotic and memorable thing I’ll ever do in my entire life,” said Davis. “The screaming of people chanting USA! USA! USA! I will never forget as long as I live.”
Although Davis has many memories from that time, he said there are some things he will never talk about.
“I had no idea what to expect when we got there and your mind cannot comprehend what we saw,” said Davis. “You watched it all on TV that day, but sometimes you think it’s like a movie until you see it for real. The devastation was unbelievable.”
After being in New York for more than a month, Davis only came home due to his wife having their baby. Afterward, he was sent out to do another mission along with a few others who had come back home instead of pulling workers from New York.
“When you come back home to normal life, you start reflecting on the time you were gone, the things you did, some of the things you can never talk about, and all the people,” said Davis.
For Davis, it feels unreal the attack happened 20 years ago.
“Every year, it feels like it happened yesterday and It’s crazy because so many times a day I’ll look at my watch and it will be 9:11. That number always comes to me for some crazy reason,” said Davis. “The guys I worked with and our whole team became so close. You have such a bond when you do something like that and you’re like brothers.”
Davis said he does wish to go back to New York, especially this weekend.
“I pray for those people every night, what they went through, the city, the families, the workers, the doctors, the police and firemen, they rushed into a building they knew was going to collapse and I have never seen so much bravery in my entire life,” said Davis. “It was an honor to be a part of it and having the opportunity to help our nation doing what I do for a living was the most patriotic thing I ever did, and this is a day I hope no one ever forgets.”
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]
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