NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Firefighters, police, EMT and members of the military gathered in North Myrtle Beach Thursday morning to pay tribute to the victims of the September 11 attack on the United States.
Dressed in full uniform they walked about 10 miles along the sand as a way to commemorate their brothers and sisters who lost their lives saving others 13 years ago.
This is the fourth year for the North Myrtle Beach 9-11 Beach Walk.
Organizer John Montone is an Engineer Paramedic for North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue, but his heart is in his home state, New York, which is why he found a way to commemorate the fallen.
"I wanted to represent, I wanted to do something here with the city," Montone says. "That was tough ... This is a brotherhood, we all stick together. You could go to work one day and not come home. There's guys here that I don't know. But we'd all die for each other," Montone said.
Nearly 350 firefighters died for each other and the people they were trying to save on September 11, 2001. In addition, 23 New York City police officers also made the sacrifice.
Lieutenant Charlie Nash is with Horry County Fire Rescue now. Thirteen years ago, he was an EMT in New York City. He says his ambulance was one of the first on the scene at the World Trade Center.
"At one point we were caught in a lot of the debris from the collapse," Nash remembers. "But we made it. We fought through and we made it and we're here."
But every year around this time, the memories flood back.
"You'll never forget it. Every year, the week of September 11, you start remembering what happened, the smells, the taste in your mouth, everything triggers a memory."
The men and women on the beach came from areas in Horry County, across the state, and other parts of the country for the event that organizers say grows each year.
First responders were met with supporters who cheered and applauded from the sidelines, many of whom saw the gathering from their hotels and wanted to join. Others clapped and cheered from hotel balconies.