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Sep-10-2011 22:02printcomments

Get 'er done!

This story has been told in greater detail by Rebecca Liss in her article titled “An Unlikely Hero” and published September 10, 2002. It was recently reprinted by MSN/Slate.

S/Sgt David Karnes
S/Sgt David Karnes photo courtesy:

(HARRISVILLE, N.H.) - The three words that make-up the title of today’s piece typify the attitude that caused more than one Commander-in-Chief to issue the order to “Send in the Marines”! Those words also define the attitude of a Marine who has been described as “Crazy Brave” for his actions at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001.

Staff Sergeant David Karnes was nowhere near the Twin Towers when the planes struck. He was working as an accountant in Wilton, Ct. When the second plane hit, he said to his co-workers “We’re at war” and then turned to his manager and said, “It might be a while before you see me again”. At which point he left work, ran home and put on his Marine fatigues, grabbed the few pieces of equipment he had readily available, and drove to Ground Zero to help in any way he could. By wearing his fatigues, he was quickly allowed to pass thru the barricades.

Immediately before his arrival at Ground Zero at about 17:30 hrs, building 7 of the World Trade Center had just dramatically collapsed. Rescue workers had just been called off the pile of rubble that once was building 7, as it was considered too unsafe to allow them to continue.

Realizing that survivors might be alive but trapped under that rubble, Staff Sergeant Karnes began searching for the best approach. In his search for that approach, he encountered Sergeant Thomas, another Marine who also answered his own personal call to duty, to assist those in need. Together, they searched for the best access to the pile amid the flames, twisted steel, and rubble. They also worked to avoid officials who might see them and order them off the pile.

They climbed over the gigantic pile of rubble looking for voids and shouting, “United States Marines – If you can hear us, shout or tap”. Over and over, Staff Sergeant Karnes shouted those words without a response but after about an hour of searching, he finally got a faint reply. He shouted back “Keep yelling, we can hear you”. The two Marines zeroed in on the voices coming from beneath the rubble.

Those voices belonged to two Port Authority police officers, Will Jimeno and Sgt. John McLoughlin, buried 20 feet below the surface of the rubble. Staff Sergeant Karnes then sent Sergeant Thomas to get help and stayed in voice contact with the two buried men.

The help, which Sergeant Thomas went in search of arrived in the form of Chuck Sereika, a former paramedic with an expired license who pulled his old, uniform out of his closet and came to the site. Ten minutes later, Scott Strauss and Paddy McGee, officers with the elite Emergency Service Unit of the NYPD, also arrived. Staff Sergeant Karnes stood-by while their surroundings threatened to collapse in on them and assisted the team of rescue workers in freeing Officer Jimeno . . . at one point, offering his Kabar knife when it appeared that they might have to sever Jimeno’s leg in order to free him.

Staff Sergeant Karnes rode with Officer Jimeno to the hospital. While doctors treated the injured police officer Staff Sergeant Karnes grabbed a few hours sleep on a cot in the psychiatric ward. While he slept, the hospital staff cleaned and pressed his fatigues.

This story has been told in greater detail by Rebecca Liss in her article titled “An Unlikely Hero” and published September 10, 2002. It was recently reprinted by MSN/Slate.

I am telling this story here and now, on September 11, 2011, because it needed retelling. At a time when too many “Crazy Brave” Marines will not return home from wars they were sent to fight, we all need to be reminded of the fact that these young Americans . . . these builders of tomorrow . . . these Marines are just too valuable a resource to waste on wars for oil and/or political gain. We must all make the time to write the current administration and our Congressional Representatives and Senators to let them know how we feel. When we send the best of the best to die on foreign soil for oil and political gain, who will remain to “Get ‘er Done” at home?

These young men and women deserve better than what the current crop of politicians are willing to give them folks... and, that is not just my opinion!

Note: Marine Sergeant Thomas has never come forward to be interviewed or to take credit for his heroism that day.

Writer Robert Collinsworth is an American who isn't hesitant to talk about the good side of his country, and that is a welcome thing in this day and age. admittedly, is very critical of both American politics, as well as those of other nations that we perceive is being wrong in their motives and actions. At the same time, within these structures we criticize, are many outstanding people who make each day a better place for all those around them. They embody and personify the American spirit that is sometimes fleeting, but always present.

These are some of the things Robert takes into account when writing commentary that is designed reach people, to "get them thinking" in his words, and indeed it does.'s goal is for all people to be on the same page, we appreciate Bob's more conservative approach toward that same goal."

You can write to Bob Collingsworth at this email address:

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