Daily Helmsman…9/11 Remembers


John Selberg drove through the night from Germantown, Tenn. to Washington, D.C. 11 years ago.

He was both angry and proud when he arrived at the Pentagon to see emergency response crews working together to remove dead bodies after a plane had crashed into the building in a terrorist attack.

Selberg, Chief of the Germantown Fire Department, said he would never forget Sept. 11, 2001 — the day he stabilized the crumbled Pentagon. He said the scent was unbearable as masked men fumbled around.

“Our three FEMA search teams had to set up camps for our 12 hour shifts — one day shift and one night shift. We worked long and hard to stabilize the tumbled building,” Selberg said.

“The whole experience was nerve-wrecking,” he said.

Victims and bystanders were shooed away as three rescue teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency executed their duties. Most Americans will forever remember the day as tragic and devastating.

In support of this day and those who died, the University of Memphis Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps detachment, led by the planning of Hunter Hayes,

is hosting a commemoration ceremony in the fountain courtyard in front of the University Center from 2 to 3 p.m. today.

Selberg is the keynote speaker.

There will be a formation of the on campus ROTC units, including the Army, Air Force and Navy.  Special attendees include Dean of Students Stephen Peterson, Assistant Dean of Students Ben Morton and Student Government Association President Russell Born.

Born will speak about military sacrifice and the commitment he has for fallen soldiers.

“This ceremony is an attention-getter and everyone needs to be thankful,” Born said.

Peterson will also speak on how Sept. 11, 2001 has devastated America.

Lastly, Selburg, a 1983 graduate of the U of M, will talk about his experiences in Washington as an emergency responder.

“John Selberg selflessly traveled to the Pentagon as a responder during that tragic day,” Cadet Leslie McCormick said.

Selburg has worked at the Germantown Fire Department since 1977 and is an experienced firefighter with specialized training in Hazardous Materials and is a licensed EMT. Challenging experiences have come from being a Task Force Leader for Tennessee Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One.

“My emotions were anger, pride and blessed as I entered the building of the Pentagon,” Selberg said. “I will never forget that day as I helped with 9/11 rescue services.”

In addition to the Sept. 11 attack, Selberg has responded to the Salt Lake City Olympics and more than 12 hurricanes.

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