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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Task force returns from New York

Members of Texas Task Force-1 (TX-TF1) returned yesterday after a 10-day deployment aiding in the relief effort at the World Trade Center (WTC) site in New York City.
The 72-member elite urban search and rescue team under Texas A&M System’s Texas Engineering Extension Service was activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Sept. 11 following the bombings of the WTC and the Pentagon. The team left for New York Sept. 17 and began work in 12-hour shifts at the trade center site.
TX-TF1 team members flew into Austin yesterday afternoon, taxiing through an honorary arc of water created by two Austin Fire Department fire engine hoses.
Bryan Police Department Lt. Fred Taylor, a TX-TF1 member, said that although the members were trained and prepared for the work ahead of them, there was no way they could be prepared for the devastation they saw in New York City.
“It’s been a trip,” he said. “It was frustrating. It was interesting. It ran through the whole spectrum of feelings. It was unlike anything any of us have ever seen before.”
Debbie Taylor took the day off from work to welcome her husband Fred home. She said her excitement at seeing him home and safe again compares to the excitement of her wedding day.
“I woke up before the sun came out,” Taylor said.
TX-TF1 began work at the WTC site at 7 a.m. Sept. 19. The team was divided into two groups, a red group and a blue group, splitting the day into two 12-hour shifts.
Task members searched “voids,” or air pockets within the rubble, using search dogs, telescoping microphones and cameras to look for survivors. After the void was deemed stable, the team members searched the space by hand.
The task force carried out high-angle rescue, scaling metal out-croppings that remained standing at the site, splitting it into parts and safely removing it. This opened new areas to be searched and cleared.
TX-TF1 was the first team to find parts of one of the planes that crashed into the WTC.
The team was one of the four FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Teams on duty at the WTC site from Sept. 19 to Sept. 25. The three other teams were deployed from Utah and Florida.
Members stayed at the Jacob Javitz center in New York City. During their 12-hour rest periods, team members slept, ate and visited with celebrities who thanked them for their efforts.
The task force completed its final shift at the WTC at 7 a.m. Sept. 25 and was then transferred to Fort Dix, New Jersey before flying to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport aboard a charted commercial plane.
After lunch and a visit with their families, the task members boarded a bus and headed back to College Station, where TX-TF1 is headquartered.
The team was met at the Brayton Fire Training Field by remaining family members, A&M System Chancellor Howard Graves and Board of Regents Chairman Erle Nye before being debriefed.
Dr. Kemble Bennett, the associate vice chancellor for engineering and head of the TX-TF1 team, told his team that he was proud.
“You’ve made Texas proud,” Bennett said. “God Bless each and every one of you for the job you did up there. We took the tough jobs nobody else would take. Remember that.”
Fred Taylor’s sister Kathy Boykin was proud of him and what he had done, but she was ready for him to come home.
“We are relieved that he is coming home safely,” Boykin said. “He wasn’t gone long but while he was there they worked hard.”
Taylor said it was good to be back.
“We did a job, we did what we’ve been training for,” he said. “It is hard to describe what we did and saw. I don’t know if you can.”

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