Two 9/11 Rescue Workers from Rockport Suffering Nine Years Later

9/11 has come and gone. At Ground Zero and the Pentagon, they held ceremonies to remember the victims of these terrorist attacks. Across the rest of the nation, services were held so Americans won’t forget what happened nine years ago.

Ron Dominguez, 48, Daniel Dominguez, Dominguez’ 65-year-old uncle, and Fidel Hernandez, a family friend,  did what every American wanted to do nine year ago. They were from Rockport, Tx, which is about 30 miles north of Corpus Christi, Tx. The trio went to Ground Zero to try to look for victims and find people alive in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

The group showed up on site in Manhattan after 9/11 and were directed to go to a volunteer center. Ron Dominguez said they were asked to help out because they spoke multiple languages, including Spanish.

The three searched through the rubble and debri using papers masks, while other rescuers had better equipment. They were searching in areas with poisonous substances and were told they were risking their lives to find survivors.

In the end, they found some people after a few days of searching. They worked for three days straight without any sleep.

“I wish we could have done more and brought more survivors from Ground Zero, ” said Dominguez. “We were working off our adrenalin and it was physically exhausting work. We set our mind to it and just kept looking. Finally, I started to hallucinate, so we made a decision to leave the area and come home.”  

Shortly after coming home to the Coastal Bend and being hailed as heros, Daniel Dominguez and Hernandez started to feel the effects of searching for the 9/11 sruvivors. They are one of about 13,000 9/11 rescue workers who are reportedly ill from the exposure to the toxins from the recovery and cleanup of the World Trade Center.

Dominguez and Hernandez first started coughing up blood and having respitory problems. The two must now have their lungs drained on a regular basis and have lost weight over the years. Nine years ago, Dominguez was 170 pounds and now he weights 120 pounds, meanwhile Hernandez was the same weight and he now weights 130 pounds.

Ron Dominguez reports both men may be sick, but neither thought twice about what they did for the 9/11 victims and survivors.

“Absolutely not, we don’t regret going to search for the survivors,” said Ron Dominguez. “It was the only thing we could do as Americans at the time. Even if we die, we had to do that for the victims.”

  Dominguez showed a letter from former  New York City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez, who represented the Ground Zero area when 9/11 occurred.

She wrote in the letter dated April 17, 2008: “Ron Dominguez and his companions responded to a site emblematic of human depravity and transformed into a vision of hope and love.”

Lopez writes how she warned Dominguez and others to leave the area because it was dangerous.  

She wrote “I am deeply sadden to hear about Daniel and Fidel are both ill as a result of their exposure. Their scarred lungs bear witness to their sacrifice, much like the medals pinned to the chests of veterans of war.”

For the first time in nine years, the three of them went to a 9/11 service last month in Rockport. Usually, they get together and remember what they did, but cannot go to a service.

“I felt out of place at the service there, but I only went because I am a Patriot Guard and wanted to honor the firemen who died in Ground Zero,” said Dominguez.

While his uncle and family friend suffer, Dominguez isn’t ill or feeling the same effects, like his two comrades. He said he doesn’t know why, but just call it luck.

There is some hope for the two men from Rockport. There is a $9.4 billion 9/11 Workers’ Health Care Bill in Congress to pay for medical expenses for recovery workers from Ground Zero.  

Dominguez said congressional leaders have been fighting over this. Before the summer recess, they voted on it, but needed two-thirds approval. The vote was 255-159,

“Anybody who voted against this bill and for those rescue workers who helped out in the days after 9/11 are un-American,” said Dominguez. “We need to pass this bill for people like my uncle and family friend.”

–Manuel De La Rosa, mannydelarosa@yahoo.com

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