SJFD firefighter says 9/11 attacks led to career as soldier, first responder

A local St. Joseph firefighter said the events that happened on 9/11 led him to a career in the military and as an emergency responder.

Posted: Sep 11, 2019 6:05 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2019 9:21 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Thousands of firefighters, EMS and law enforcement personal responded to the call of duty on September 11, 2001, when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. 

Eighteen years later, a local St. Joseph firefighter said the events that happened that day led him into a career as an emergency responder.

"As I got older, I saw the war going on and I just felt like I should be a part of that," Hayden Oswald, SJFD, said. "I felt that I owed it to, I guess, my country to participate."

Oswald has been a firefighter with the St. Joseph Fire Department for over a year. He said while 9/11 did not directly affect his choice to be a first responder, it did lead to his decision in joining the Missouri Army National Guard. 

"It's a turning point in history," Oswald said. "I hope that we as a nation are always able to remember how important it was, and not only the bad that happened that day but the good that other people were able to do for their fellow man."

While he was only a fifth-grader at the time, Oswald said he vividly remembers the events that took place while in class on that tragic September day.

"I think I was 10 or 11 years old, and our school librarian came in and told us we should turn on the news because two airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center," Oswald said. "I think we tuned in just after the second plane had hit."

He added that because he lived in a small town at the time, he doesn't remember there being a lot of chaos and panic, but says he could sense something wasn't quite right.

"There wasn't really runs on gas stations and mass panic that I've heard people talk about in more urban areas, but I do remember having a feeling of uncertainty," Oswald said. "Even though I definitely couldn't grasp what was actually happening, I really remember having this feeling that there were much bigger things occurring."

Now, with his experience as a firefighter, Oswald said he has a new perspective of what NYC first responders went through following the attacks.

"It's made that day even more impactful because I have a much better lens into what the firefighters had to deal with in New York City on that day," Oswald said.

However, he said he's not the only St. Joseph firefighter to be influenced by the events of 9/11. 

"It's a very significant day for us because doing this job we know what we do on an everyday basis and that's definitely a call that would be above and beyond the norm," Oswald said. 

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