PIQUA — The Piqua Health and Rehab Center held a luncheon Wednesday for first responders as a way of remembering the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and during the luncheon, staff recognized a member of the U.S. Army Reserves who enlisted in the Army 18 years ago while the terrorist attacks were happening.
“It’s an honor,” Darrell L. Porter Jr., of Sidney, said upon receiving the Certificate of Appreciation from the staff at the Piqua Health and Rehab Center. Porter is currently a combat engineer for the U.S. Army Reserves in Lima.
Porter was 17 years old and a junior in high school when he enlisted on Sept. 11, 2001. On Wednesday, he described how he was in the process of enlisting, undergoing a physical test, when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks happened. Porter remembered watching the second World Trade Center tower being struck while he was at the recruitment office in Bellefontaine. While he was originally enlisting after being inspired by his family members’ military service, he soon found a new reason to join and serve.
“It made my decision stronger,” Porter said.
He later graduated high school in May 2003 and was deployed for the first time to Afghanistan in January 2004. He was also deployed to Kuwait in 2014-2015.
He said that his service means everything to him.
“I put my pride and soul into it,” Porter said. “I take pride in the uniform.”
“I’m proud of him,” his wife Keerstin Porter, who works at Piqua Health and Rehab, said on Wednesday.
The recognition was part of a surprise for Porter, who attended the annual luncheon with his wife. Shellie Rice, activity director for the Piqua Health and Rehab, presented Porter with both the Certification of Recognition and a U.S. flag to thank Porter for his service.
Rice explained they hold a luncheon each year on Sept. 11 to remember the lives of those who were lost during the terrorist attacks, and they also honor local first responders who were invited to the the free lunch that was sponsored by Heartland Hospice.
“It’s just a great way for us to give back and show appreciation,” Casey Howard, manager of business development with Heartland Hospice, said.
While reflecting on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Rice recalled how the facility used to have a resident, who has since passed away, who had a family member who was killed in the terrorist attacks, saying it was difficult to watch that resident struggle with that loss.
“It was very, very emotional,” Rice said.
Kelly Hill, maintenance director at Piqua Health and Rehab, also reflected on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, saying it seemed like a nightmare.
“It just didn’t seem real,” Hill said.
“It affected everybody,” Ashley Wintrow, RN, director of nursing at Piqua Health and Rehab, said.
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