The following is an excerpt of an Associated Press story by Brett Barrouquere on Sept. 10, 2013, to mark the 12th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001:
As a retired colleague told the story of how fire truck Foam 161 was damaged on Sept. 11, 2001, Mark Skipper examined the charred remains of the vehicle, cut a grin and expressed amazement that the crew lived through the terrorist attack.
That day at the Pentagon forged a special friendship between Skipper, who works at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn., and now-retired firefighters Al Wallace and Dennis Young, who spent the day of the terror attack sifting through rubble and helping people escape the burning military headquarters.
"It's been hard to come back and see this, but I've got my friends here," Skipper told The Associated Press. "It's just a personal bond."
The three men reunited Sept. 10, 2013, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to view their former truck for the first time in 12 years.
With its rear driver's side still charred and melted, Foam 161 is going on display at the Gen. George S. Patton Museum and Center of Leadership at Fort Knox.
Patton Museum Curator Nathan Jones said the truck will be part of an exhibit highlighting leadership issues that arose from the attacks.
The three firefighters stay in regular contact and see one another periodically.
Wallace, the truck driver on the day of the attacks, is the storyteller of the bunch.
Wallace described how he, Skipper and Young saw the plane and heard the crash from the Fort Myer Fire Station just yards from the west side of the Pentagon.
"It's a wonder Skipper and I weren't cut to shreds," he said.