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Big Spring resident, veteran reflects on 9/11 clean-up efforts 20 years later

Robert Porr played an important role in the 9-month clean-up process after the attacks. He was in charge of helping clear the debris and moving it to Staten Island.

BIG SPRING, Texas — A day just like today, not a cloud in the sky, 20 years ago, Robert Porr, a current Big Spring resident was in New York City.

He says he never could've prepared for what was about to happen.

"Every day out of 120 Broadway I would look up and watch the trade center get built and it was a difficult first time to see the buildings when I arrived at ground zero and they were down," said Robert Porr, retired LTC Air Force Medical Services Corps.

Robert's a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force from Queens.

He was in charge of medical and emergency services in the recovery mission after 9/11.

"The immediacy of the actions that we took by bringing in mortuary services and the base went from a population of a few hundred, traditional air guards people and full-timers to several thousands," Porr said.

He remembers exactly what the site looked like when he got there.

"I took a general around one day, I escorted him around and he was a Vietnam veteran pilot and as we were walking when he first saw the site, I felt his body shake. It was that disturbing," Porr said.

Robert was tasked with getting protective equipment to the teams on ground zero.

He also worked with investigators and police officers looking through all the debris.

"We would take the debris out of ground zero, put it on a truck, the truck would go to a barge, the barge would sail to Staten island and then the debris would be brought up to the top of the landfill," Porr said. "The power of the destruction of what happened was I never saw a chair in tact, I never saw a desk in tact, I never saw a file cabinet in tact."

Robert says in everything he went through, looking back 20 years later, he couldn't have done it without the generous people by his side.

"When I think of that selflessness that those I served with in battle, those I served with in NYC, those I served with to battle the COVID epidemic in NYC, the selflessness of the people I work with in the VA health system, (it) always centers you," Porr said.