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Harris Whitbeck: New York firefighters, police in Afghanistan

CNN Correspondent Harris Whitbeck
CNN Correspondent Harris Whitbeck  

(CNN) -- Four New York City firefighters and two of the city's policemen are in Bagram air base in Afghanistan on Friday on a humanitarian mission and to thank U.S. soldiers serving there.

CNN Correspondent Harris Whitbeck is covering that story and filed this report:

WHITBECK: Those firefighters had a very emotional morning at Bagram air base. They met with some of the members the U.S. armed forces that have spent several weeks here taking care of humanitarian issues but also looking for Osama bin Laden.

The firefighters thanked those soldiers and one of them, whose name is Joe Higgins, brought with him from New York a piece of one of the airplanes that actually struck one of the twin towers. He gave that piece of airplane to the soldiers and he told them he wanted them to take care of it and to remember what it meant.

HIGGINS: I just thought it was pretty unbelievable that we found pieces of that airplane and we were able to confirm that this is a piece of the airplane. And we wanted to bring that, too. I want some soldier to take that piece and put it in his pocket and think about it while he's here and make sure he knows he's here for a good reason. And I know you know that already, but anything to make you feel good about being here.

WHITBECK: Now, on the humanitarian side of their visit, the firefighters brought with them about 90,000 tons of food and blankets and also toys and sweets for the children of Afghanistan. They visited one orphanage outside of Kabul where they spent a lot of time with these kids, many of them orphans, war orphans. Many of them lost their parents during the last years of war. Others are more recent. So it was a very, very symbolic visit. Many of the firefighters said that helping others is helping them deal with the grief of having lost some of their loved ones and some of their colleagues at the World Trade Center.


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