Cossey remembers 9/11 through memorabilia
When Ronald Cossey, 77, drove through the town of Gore last week, he saw the red fire truck decorated in memory of the firefighters that lost their lives on that horrific day in September 2001.
A 14-year resident of Gore, Cossey said seeing the truck brought up lots of memories of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America.
“I remember when the late Dana “Trout” Tracy, a former fireman, started doing a display every year of the fire truck to remember the brothers (fellow firefighters) he lost that day,” Cossey said.
Tracy worked for the Town of Gore for over 30 years and made it his personal mission to honor those fallen firefighters each year by putting the fire truck on display near a corner area of Main Street.
Cossey said when he arrived home he brought out two pieces of memorabilia from 9/11 after thinking of the upcoming date.
He said he worked on pipeline for many years, starting his first job in 1957 at the age of 16 with his father, who already worked in the industry.
“I've worked and traveled all over the country through my job, including South America, Algeria and Nigeria,” he said. “I loved what I did but I also love retirement.”
Cossey, a side boom operator, said he received a call wanting him to instruct a pipeline school while working in Pennsylvania near the New York border, and it was there he received an opportunity of a lifetime – to tour the grounds of 9/11.
“Me and a friend were given a tour in January 2002, just four months after the towers fell,” he said. “There were no words to describe it. There was a 16-acre hole and the debris was 22 stories high. We got a tour even the president didn't get to see.”
Cossey said there were holes and tunnels everywhere, where trains ran through and gold was stored.
“There were shredded new cars and twisted service pistols, and they were hauling stuff to the banks of the river,” he said. “We were told if they found 50 percent or more of a body it was still a body but anything less than 50 percent was considered remains.”
“Everything burned for several days so when air hit those people that were still trapped inside, they would just incinerate. A lot of police and firefighters lost their lives that day, too,” he said. “And the operators and iron workers were doing a job like you wouldn't believe, because if they didn't know what they were doing they could get cut up bad. There was a lot of qualified people there doing their jobs.”
Cossey said he and his friend spent most of the day there.
“There was also a white fluffy powder floating around but they could never classify what it was,” he said.
He said they watched as items, including body parts were hauled to either a bank or an island by barge.
“I just had to sit down after. I couldn't take any pictures,” he said. “It was too much and I was so angry. So much goes through your head when you see something like that and hear a lot of personal stories.”
Cossey said there was an auction/fundraiser taking place with the proceeds going to a master mechanic and his family. He said the mechanic had suffered a heart attack and he and his friend were able to purchase WTC Emergency Response Team coats, which are now treasured reminders of that day.
“My friend wears his but I've never worn mine,” he said. “We just knew the money raised was for him and his family and it's a part of history.”
Cossey obtained a second souvenir from his trip–a piece of the south tower.
Cossey said that day will be with him for the rest of his life.
Cossey and his wife of 59 years, Teresa, reside in Gore where they enjoy retirement, raise a big garden, and Cossey enjoys woodworking with Wendall Mills of Sallisaw.