Kenedy volunteers pay tribute at annual 9/11 SA tower climb

Four Kenedy Volunteer Fire Department members participated in a memorial climb on Sept. 11 in San Antonio. Pictured from left to right are: volunteer firefighter Samantha Gray; volunteer firefighter Jeffrey Creswell; volunteer firefighter Michael Banda and volunteer firefighter Mary Villanueva.

KENEDY – Everyone remembers where they were when news struck about the Twin Towers being attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

And if you don’t, then consider yourself lucky. The amount of grief alone is immeasurable when discussions about the 9/11 attacks surface.

Four Kenedy volunteer firefighters wanted to pay tribute to the fallen on the tragic day 18 years ago.

Jeffrey Creswell, Mary Villanueva, Michael Banda and Samantha Gray rallied together to represent Kenedy and Karnes County at the San Antonio 110 9/11 Memorial Climb on Sept. 11 last month.

The climb is a tribute to the climb that 343 fallen firefighters made and lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

Some 343 tags are carried for each of the fallen firefighters during the event.

Creswell, who has been with the KVFD for four and a half years, shared a moment after the event.

“I remember the calling out of names of each of the representatives we were climbing for,” he said.

Villanueva joined the KVFD in January of this year. One thing stood out when she was finished climbing the tower.

“I remember them setting off the pass devices in the stairwell,” Villanueva said.

“Just hearing the pass devices and thinking about the people needing help was a lot.”

Banda has been a firefighter for KVFD for three and a half years.

“I will remember the number of people that showed up for the event,” he said.

“To see all the different fire departments was great.”

Gray has been with KVFD for one year.

“I won’t forget when they played the radio calls over the speakers,” she said.

“You could hear the fear in the voices over the phone.”

Preparation was critical for the team before attending the event.

“Jeff and I teamed up running the bleachers at school and focusing on hydration,” Villanueva said.

Despite the amount of physical strength needed to perform duties while on a call for the KVFD, one thing was certain after the group returned home.

“There is no amount of training that can prepare you for that climb,” Gray said as the group all laughed.

The event also has 70 tags for fallen law enforcement officers and nine for EMS personnel.

The participants climb the tower stairs twice to reach the 110 floors of the World Trade Center.

After the firefighters finished their climb they went to a stand and announced the fallen responders’ names over the speaker.

For a group of volunteer firefighters to take time out of their day and pay tribute is respectful.

The four are ready to start planning for next year at the Tower of Americas.

“We will do it all again,” Creswell said.