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Marines honor fallen members of armed forces

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Six flags were raised Thursday on a roof across from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in tribute to members of the armed services who were killed in the September 11 terrorist attack.

The U.S. Marine Corps had planned originally to honor only its own fallen members, but decided to expand the ceremony to include members of all the armed forces.

Standing on the roof of Two World Financial Center, amid mounds of debris that still litter the streets and rooftops around the World Trade Center, New York police officers -- among them former Marines -- raised the flags of the United States, Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.

"We wanted to honor the fallen Marines and other service members that were in the World Trade Center with the New York Fire Department, the NYPD, the Port Authority and many civilians that we don't know were Marines. They're all heroes," said Marine Corps Maj. David Andersen.

Two former Marine corporals and one former sergeant major in the reserves were among the police officers killed when the twin towers collapsed.

Sgt. Mike Curtin, the reservist, Sgt. John Coughlin and Officer Vincent Danz were all part of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit and were among the first to enter the buildings after they were hit by hijacked jetliners.

"They went into the World Trade Center to help people that have not signed up for this horror," said Andersen.

Curtin had responded to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 as well. At that time, he was lowered by helicopter to the roof of the World Trade Center to help clear an area for helicopters to land, Andersen said.

Curtin was also sent to Oklahoma City after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. There, he helped orchestrate a tribute to the Marines killed in that attack.

Now, the 350 Marines in the New York Police Department stand ready to honor him when his body is found.


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