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“It was a sacred experience;" Unified Fire Authority Captain reflects on Ground Zero deployment

Posted at 9:47 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 00:45:07-04

MIDVALE, Utah — An Unified Fire Authority captain recalls the work he did finding victims at Ground Zero shortly after the attacks on 9/11

“It was a sacred experience and unlike anything we do now,” said Capt. James DeGering.

As a member of Utah’s Task Force 1, Capt. DeGering’s orders came just hours after the twin towers fell. The team searched for airplane parts and human remains for 12 hours a day.

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"That first night on the pile was an unforgettable experience. We walked by a fire engine that had been crushed down to my height. I knew immediately we were on honored, sacred ground,” said Capt. DeGering.

Amid the horrific devastation and loss, Capt. DeGering volunteered to be the team’s chaplain. Strangers working in the 60 foot tall pile leaned on him for spiritual support.

Utah fire captain reflects on deployment at Ground Zero

"It was amazing, even as we were working on the debris, New York firefighters would come up to me and say, ‘Father, can we talk?’ They just needed someone to listen to them."

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Over the last 20 years, more people died of 9/11 related illnesses than the initial attack. This possibly includes UFA’s Chris Cage, who worked alongside Capt. DeGering at Ground Zero.

Cage died in August 2020 from lung cancer believed to be connected to 9/11.

"I’ll always remember him with a smile. He never complained. He was an awesome individual. I’m afraid there is probably going to be more to come in the future,” said Capt. DeGering.