Americans, Germans honor 9/11 firefighters with soccer stadium stair climb
Stars and Stripes September 11, 2023
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Air Force Tech. Sgt. Caleb Osland was a first grader in Aviano, Italy, when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks occurred.
His father, Kendall, was stationed at the U.S. air base there during one of the stops in his 20-year military career. Even then, Osland noticed the contrast before and after that day.
“It changed a lot for my family, for our way of life and how things were going,” said Osland, of the 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base. “It went from what seemed kind of normal, for as normal as military (life) can be, to complete chaos with going on base, getting bomb checks.
“We came out stronger on the other side of things — or at least we try to. Doing stuff in remembrance is the embodiment of the American spirit.”
Osland was the first of about 60 participants to ring the bell and finish the 9/11 Stair Climb event Monday at Fritz Walter Stadium, a storied 50,000-seat soccer venue that is home to the FC Kaiserslautern soccer team.
The event honored the 343 New York City firefighters who died during the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
American airmen and soldiers stationed in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, as well as U.S. and German firefighters, climbed the stadium’s east stand. The stair loops were repeated 30 times to total 2,071 steps, equaling the number to get to the top of the 110-story twin towers.
The effort of all involved wasn’t lost on those like Senior Airman Jesse Puschel, a firefighter with the 86th Civil Engineer Squadron at Ramstein.
“Having the German firefighters out here as well as some other units out here together, it’s really cool to see others remember this day,” Puschel said.
The firefighters based out of Sembach and Ramstein donned full gear at the start, despite temperatures that reached the upper 80s by mid-afternoon. Some service members added to the physical challenge by wearing vests and other gear.
U.S Army Capt. Kevin Krupp began the climb with a large backpack.
Printed on paper placed in lanyards were the names of the fallen firefighters. Their photos also were plastered on the seats around the east curve’s stairs.
“Any time it gets hard, you just look down (at the name) and remember why you’re doing it,” said Krupp, headquarters battery commander for the 52nd Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Sembach Kaserne.
The remembrance is necessary, Krupp said, “especially for the United States military and what it meant following 9/11. There’s a lot of sacrifice that came from that one day.
“It’s important to look back and commemorate the loss and the sacrifice that everybody made.”