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9/11 Memories - Marlon Zambrano

Image of (graphic) Marlon Zambrano, Madigan Army Medical Center, Clinical Informatics Section, California Medical Detachment. (graphic) Marlon Zambrano, Madigan Army Medical Center, Clinical Informatics Section, California Medical Detachment

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, started off like any other Tuesday at my Queens medical office. That came to an end when I heard a commotion from the clinic waiting area. Patients were gathered around the TV watching the terrorist attack unravel. What went through my mind was that it was intentional and many people would need help.

I quickly headed to the subway and found it was out of service. I went to ‘plan B’ and just started running. Eventually, I approached a police sergeant and showed him my military transition ID and let him know I was in crash/fire rescue, and I could help if they let me.

It was my prior military background in the Marines and experience that prepared me to be a first responder that morning and the days following Sept. 11. I feel that every service member or prior service person would have done the same had they been in my shoes.

As I look back, my devotion and innate need to respond and help when I clocked out of my civilian job came from the military. The ability to run five miles toward the burning towers when mass transit was at a standstill came from the military. It was my military transition ID card that allowed me to cross the Queensboro Bridge when throngs of people were being held back by a police road block. My military deployment to Iraq helped me stay safe and maintain situational awareness when 7 World Trade Center fell next to us as we were prepping to deploy to the towers.

My leadership skills as a Marine non-commissioned officer allowed me to take charge and manage a disaster response vehicle/ station and assist firemen with their care. It was all the long sleepless days in the field that gave me the stamina to remain at ground zero to help for three more days.

Finally, it was that dedication to duty that made me realize that I love this country and its military for giving me the opportunity to make a difference – and that I should return to active duty, which is what I did [after 9-11] until I retired from the Army.

Mr. Zambrano enlisted in the Marines as an aircraft recovery specialist and deployed to Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He separated from the Marines in 1995 as a sergeant. Zabrano re-entered the military after 9-11, with the Army, and deployed three times to Iraq, earning a Bronze Star.  He retired from the Army and continues to serve his country at Madigan Army Medical Center, Clinical Informatics Section, California Medical Detachment, as a Department of the Army Civilian.

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Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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