Ramstein honors 9/11 fallen heroes

The 9/11 attacks resulted in the loss of 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

The 9/11 attacks resulted in the loss of 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 86th Civil Engineer Squadron held a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the fire department Sept. 11, 2017, to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice 16 years ago.

Brig. Gen. Richard G. Moore, 86th Airlift Wing commander, delivered remarks during the ceremony, highlighting a particular hero from the tragic event.

“Peter Ganci joined the Brooklyn fire department in the 1960s and served his entire life as a first responder in New York,” said Moore.

On his day off, Ganci was about to go to jury duty when he and his friend received the call that American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower.

“They went immediately to the World Trade Center and set up a command post,” he said. “And as the events unfolded it became obvious that the first responders who went into the South Tower needed some help. Peter Ganci was worried about those who were downstairs so he went into the basement to save as many people as he could. He was in the basement when the South Tower collapsed. And so he did what any good firefighter would do – he dug himself out.”

Ganci then set up operations in support of the North Tower.

“As it became obvious that the North Tower was about to collapse, he directed the evacuation of everybody that was in the vicinity and called for his own folks to get out of the tower, but he elected not to leave until all of them were accounted for,” continued Moore.

The tower then collapsed and killed Ganci.

“Peter Ganci gave his all for a profession that he believed in. He was a first responder to his core and he did not intend to give his life, but he was willing to do it to save as many as could be saved.”

After Moore’s remarks Airmen displayed a wreath and rang the bell as part of a 200 year old tradition.

“In the past, as firefighters began their tour of duty it was the bell that signaled the beginning of the mid-shift,” said Tony Rabonza, 86th Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services chief. “Throughout the day and night, each alarm was sounded by the bell which summoned these brave souls to fight fires and place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow citizens. When a firefighter died in the line of duty, it was the horrible toll of the bell that solemnly announced a comrades passing.”

Rabonza said it’s important to hold these ceremonies to remember not only the lives lost on 9/11, but also the lives lost every year in the line of duty. He referred to these people as his family.

“The men and women of the KMC, whether it’s the firefighters, the police officers, the military civilians, the German firefighters and police officers, or all of our community counterparts that live and work with us on base and downtown, are all dedicated to the same mission and that’s what makes it so fun to be a firefighter,” said Robonza. “I can go anywhere in the world and go into any fire station and let them know that I’m a firefighter and they are going to shake my hand, welcome me in, give me a cup of coffee and talk.”