A Special 12th Man in the FDNY

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New York City's fire department was known throughout the world before September 11, 2001, but that day put the heroism of its members on a whole different level. It's what the firefighters at one house did that day for some folks from Aggieland that added a little extra meaning to a defining number.

On West 19th Street in New York City, you'll find Engine 3, Ladder 12, Batallion 7. The Pride of Chelsea. The Dirty Dozen.

Around noon Saturday, they were preparing for their Christmas party, and along with the holiday decorations, the food, and the conversations, there was maroon and white, and a few extra 12s.

"Anytime your company's representing a number, you want to stand behind it 100 percent," said Tiernach "T.C." Cassidy, part of Ladder 12.

Five firefighters from this house stood behind the 12, and gave their lives to save others as the World Trade Center towers fell on 9/11. Inside a nearby building were Texas A&M professor Oral Capps and his wife Debbie.

"We heard the sound of the south tower pancaking, and that was a bad sound, but the building filled up with black smoke, and we couldn't see each other," Debbie said in a previous interview with KBTX. "We just felt each other."

"To be right there and to witness it, you just kind of rub your eyes and say, 'I don't believe what I just saw,'" Oral added.

SOT Heinz Kothe / FDNY Firefighter
"You really don't remember everybody that you did help," said Heinz Kothe with Ladder 12.

But the Capps made sure those men of 12 remembered her family's gratitude.

"She's (Debbie's) brought guys out to her place for vacations, stuff like that, to go see Texas A&M games," Kothe said.

And on one anniversary of 9/11?

"They had a memorial set up similar to the Twin Towers with the names of the five brothers that we lost in this house, so it all came rushing right back to me," Cassidy said. "You think you get further away from New York and you wouldn't be as affected, but in College Station, it was just as much as it was here."

So this house's firefighters count themselves as Aggie fans. Shirts sent by the Capps certainly don't hurt that fandom, and so this season, they've watched Johnny Manziel and admired.

"I'm rooting for him," Kothe said. "I know the whole fire house is rooting for them. We're his 12th Man, and being 12th truck, it'd be great if he gets the Heisman."

In New York City, there will be the brave men of the 12th whose bravery brought them to the 12th Man.