NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The stories of those who survived on 9/11 and the families of those who didn’t are varied and emotional.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

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From the time he was young, James Dowdell knew he wanted to be a firegfighter.

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“Once you’re in that environment and you grow up with it, you know, you look up to these guys and not just my father, all my father’s friends who were firemen,” he said.

He was inspired by his dad Kevin.

“It was just his genuine love for the fire department and love for the guys he worked with,” James told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.

46-year-old Lt. Kevin Dowdell was killed at the World Trade Center.

“When 9/11 happened it was like, if anyone could do it, it’s dad. You know, he was like superhuman to us, growing up,” said James.

James was 17 and his brother Patrick was 18 when their mother sat them down a day or two after 9/11.

“She said, ‘Dad’s not coming home and it’s going to be like this for the rest of your life,'” he recalled.

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James has been with the FDNY for nearly six years now and carries not just his dad’s memories, but his passion.

“You don’t look at it like ‘I got to get to work.’ You look at it like ‘Ahh. I’m going to the firehouse, looking forward to it,'” he said.

When Osama Bin Laden was killed, Patrick rushed to Ground Zero with his bagpipes. He’d just finished a tour in Afghanistan. His father was the one who had encouraged him to enroll at West Point.

“You know, he’d always wanted more for us. He wanted me to shoot high,” Patrick said. “I remember a quote that he said. It’s ‘Respect gets respect.'”

These simple lessons from home helped him in combat.

“I felt pretty well prepared going in, just from being around the firehouse when I was a kid and talking to my dad and kind of learning how to be a man from him,” he said.

And the long shadow of a man forever missing still lingers.

“He’s always with us whether he’s here in person or not,” he said.

Patrick is starting work on his masters at New York University and is also considering joining the fire department.

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Have you or has anyone you know joined a fire department or the military because of 9/11? Share your story below in the comments section.