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Wood County Sheriff reflects on time at Ground Zero

Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn was a lieutenant in Perrysburg when he saw the attacks unfold.
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Twenty years ago, Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn watched the event of the September 11 attacks unfold on TV like most of us. It wasn’t until the second plane crashed in the Tower 2 of the World Trade Center that he realized that this was something bigger.

“When the second airplane hit the building…that’s just when it’s all over the news. It’s like ‘okay our country’s been attacked.’ This is intentional,” Sheriff Wasylyshyn recalled. “I realized it was a very serious thing.”

At that time though, he was not serving as sheriff of Wood County. He was a lieutenant with the Perrysburg Police Department. But when that second plane struck the building....something was struck inside of him.

“That’s when I felt something just completely overwhelm me of ‘I’ve gotta do something’,” he remembered.

That’s when Mark and his partner loaded up their cruiser full of supplies and made their way to New York City. They had no idea as to what their assignments may be. They simply wanted to help wherever needed. After arriving in NYC, Sheriff Wasylyshyn and his partner were tasked with assisting security checkpoints at the United Nations.

Days would go by before he would actually step foot at Ground Zero. The wreckage of what was left over from the two towers is something he’ll never forget.

“The hardest part to comprehend was when we were literally standing on the edge of Ground Zero..the World Trade Center,” he said. “There was a misty rain at this point. So I could smell it. I could feel the heat. I could feel the rain coming through. I could hear all the noises but my brain couldn’t comprehend it.”

The Ohio pair joined a coalition of law enforcement agencies across the country that assisted the New York Police Department. They took over assignments that would have been normally handled by NYPD but due to casualties and tightened resources, they stepped in to fill those roles. Their gesture was recognized by one of the captains of the NYPD.

“We’re going to do what we’re going to do to make things better for them….very humbled…very honored,” he said when reflecting on joining different agencies assisting NYPD.

Each year the anniversary of 9/11 is something that rings differently for him each year as time goes by. It’s something that will always be with him. What will also stick with him is how the nation rose back up together after an attack meant to destroy a country.

“Every apartment building had an American flag hanging out the window. Our country was attacked and we had to come together…and they had,” he said.

“I’d never seen our country so together and unified. And so patriotic as they were at that time.”

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