COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It’s been almost two decades since the deadliest attack on U.S. soil.
As we mark 19 years since 9/11, two Georgia men are sharing their experience of assisting with recovery during the 2001 tragedy that changed America. Many people can remember exactly where they were on September 11, 2001. Cedric Hill had just dropped his children off at school and walked into his office.
“Everything I had was going off. My pagers, cellphones, office phones, all of that," said Hill.
In addition to running his funeral home in Columbus, he was working as a first responder for a disaster mortuary operation response team. After learning about the attacks at the World Trade Center that left thousands dead, he and the rest of the team headed to New York to help with the difficult job of identifying victims and contacting families.
“It was a very, very devastating experience, both from the realization of the massiveness of the destruction and the massiveness of the loss of life," said Hill.
The amount of damage from the twin towers collapsing made it even more difficult to recover bodies. Hill said many times they were sifting through body parts in hopes of identifying lives lost for victims' families.
In New York City, Hill had a colleague and friend there to support him. He and Michael Fowler, who is now the coroner of Dougherty County, first met while assisting with the flood of 1994 in Albany. Seven years later, they were working together again after 9/11.
“We looked out for one another. Then, a lot of times when we get to the hotel and take a shower or whatever, we check on each other. Are you okay man? Communication was very important during that time," Fowler said.
Both men said it’s important to remember 9/11 because there are many people who grew up without their loved ones after that day.