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‘We never found him’: Henderson man recounts losing son in 9/11 terror attack

Henderson man remembers son Gary who died on 9/11. His other son Ralph is believed to have died from toxin exposure at Ground Zero. 9/11/17 (Nathan O'Neal | KSNV)

For 16 years, Paul Geidel has kept a beaten up key around his neck.

“I dug this key out of the World Trade Center. It’s still packed with debris and ashes from the towers… and the grooves,” said Geidel, who now lives in Henderson.

Geidel was a New York City firefighter in 2001. When he got word of the terror attack on 9/11 he rushed to Ground Zero, searching for his son Gary who was also a firefighter.

“I don’t know what happened to him. We never found him. He got crushed and pulverized,” said Geidel.

For the next eight months, Geidel and his family hopelessly searched the rubble “until we swept that place with a broom”, he said.

Years later, Geidel’s other son Ralph became sick and later died, he believes, after exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero.

While Geidel lost two sons from 9/11, on the 16th anniversary of the terror attack, he is comforted in his Henderson home by two firefighter brothers from Illinois.

“It’s special. It’s something I never expected in my life. It’s very deeply important,” said John Jacquette of the Firefighter Recovery Project which promotes education on the events of 9/11.

Geidel has since published a book about his firefighting career, with the final chapter addressing his 9/11 experience.

However, Geidel’s family legacy lives on. His third son Michael is still a New York firefighter, today.

While it’s been 16 years since terror touched Geidel’s family, he won’t let go of the key he says keeps him so close to his son.

“I figure if there are any ashes in there at all... he's in there,” said Geidel.

Geidel’s book “Into Harms Way” is available.

You can also write to: Paul or Barbara Geidel 968 Candy Tuft Dr. Henderson, NV 89011 ($24.99 + $3 each book postage & handling)

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