Joe Olzacki vividly remembers the scene at the World Trade Center nearly 10 years ago. Though he arrived at Ground Zero a day or two after the attacks of Sept. 11, Olzacki recalls the situation as being “total chaos.” The knowledge that the man responsible for that attack, Osama bin Laden, is dead only brought conflicted emotions Monday.
“I’m sort of satisfied that we got the person who may have been responsible for [9/11],” Olzacki said. “But it’s not over. That was only one individual, and it’s an organization that we have problems with, and I feel that we’re going to have continuing problems for years to come.”
Olzacki, now chief of the Stratfield Volunteer Fire Department, was one of 14 volunteer firefighters from Fairfield that assisted with the cleanup at the World Trade Center site. The crews returned for about two weeks as the process became less chaotic and more organized. He said Monday that hearing of bin Laden’s death did nothing to relieve the pain of that time.
Assistant Chief Doug Chavenello with the Fairfield Fire Department also went to Ground Zero in the weeks after the attacks with a few dozen other career firefighters from Fairfield. He, too, remembers that day “like it was yesterday.” But he said he also wasn’t sure how to feel about the news of bin Laden’s death.
“I don’t know. I’m glad we got him, and I think he got what he deserved,” Chavenello said. “[September 11 is] still a tragedy. All those people are gone. I think what’s nice about [bin Laden’s death] is that it sends a message that, if you screw with the United States, we’re going to get you.”
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