Firefighter's run honors co-worker's fallen brother

A man who was a teenager on Sept. 11, 2001 became a U.S. Marine, then a Hillsborough County firefighter. He recently ran a 5k in honor of his captain's brother, who died that day.

The opportunity to honor the fallen loved one of a coworker was something John Robinson couldn’t let slip by.

“The heroism, the bravery that was displayed that day is second to none,” he said, recalling September 11, 2001. “All you can do is to continue to do your job to the best of your ability and keep their memory alive.”

The Marine veteran turned Hillsborough County firefighter, who served from 2009 to 2014, suited up in full firefighting gear to run in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K in New York City on September 23 in honor of fallen victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“As a fireman, I think it was something I had to do one way or another. As you’re running by other firemen, other firemen are running past you. People are patting each other on the back saying, ‘Come on. Let’s go. We’re almost there. We’re almost there.’ You’re tired, you have all your gear on. You run out of that tunnel and you look up and you see this 100+ story building standing there. And that day this guy and everyone else was standing at the bottom of the building and it was on fire. There are people up there that need help and they all chose to go in knowing some of them wouldn’t come back out. The heroism and bravery that was displayed that day, there is nothing like it.”


Muldowney’s brother, Brian, is Hillsborough County Fire Rescue captain.

The Tunnel to Towers, which began in 2002 with 1,500 participants, is now one of the largest 5Ks in the nation. Robinson always wanted to participate. After finding out about his HCFR captain’s connection, his desire to run in full uniform was something he had to schedule.

“Absolutely,” he said with a smile. “Looks like I’ll be returning next year and a few years after that.”

Robinson’s photos from the experience made their way back to Tampa, Fla. Many of his firefighter colleagues vowed to participate next year. The chance to honor those who gave it all keeping fellow Americans safe is something they didn’t want to miss out on either.

Robinson helps operate the Post 9/11 Veterans non-profit organization from Tampa. He serves as the President and Board Chairman for the group which aims to aid veterans through relational and financial support. 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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