September 11, 2001, was a horrific day for the United States of America. 2,996 lives were lost on that dreadful day, due to terrorism. If it hadn’t been for the brave actions of two former marines, at least two more names would have been added to that count.
David Karnes had been a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves for 20 years before he retired to move to Wilton, Connecticut, and become a senior accountant. When his sister told him what had happened in New York City, he knew he had to help. He took leave from his job and raced home, stopping only to get a quick buzz-cut and to throw on his old uniform. He then raced to New York City.
27 year-old Jason Thomas was a sergeant who had been out of the marines for a year when the planes hit. He had been dropping off his daughter at his mother’s house in Long Island when he heard the news. Thomas also threw on his old uniform and raced to the scene to help in any way he could.
Because the two former marines had been in uniform, they were allowed in to help. Although the two had never met before, they immediately teamed up to find survivors. At the time, authorities were not allowing anyone into the center of the collapse because it was so unsafe. Thomas and Karnes immediately headed that way, anyway, through the smoldering fires and unstable rubble. They called out for survivors as they searched.
Two New York City Port Authority Police Officers had taken shelter in a freight elevator in the South Tower when it collapsed. Though they survived the collapse, they were trapped in the debris and had not been found; search party after search party had passed them by. John McLoughlin and William Jimenco were beginning to lose hope that they would be saved, when Thomas and Karnes heard their cries for help. The two men had been buried and were trapped under 20 feet rubble. It took rescuers three hours to reach Jimeno; it took an additional nine hours to rescue McLoughlin.
When Jimeno was rescued, Karnes accompanied him to the hospital. Thomas left the scene without even giving his name, and returned to the search and rescue efforts. Thomas continued to help for two-and-a-half weeks. Karnes stayed on the scene to help search and rescue efforts for eight more days.
Following that horrendous day, Karnes re-enlisted with the marines and was deployed two more times. Thomas stayed anonymous until 2006, when the film, “World Trade Center,” told the story of their rescue. These two heroes had no official duty to help but, without them, two more lives could have been lost.
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