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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

9/11 Hero: Benjamin Keefe Clark

Aired September 11, 2002 - 14:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now on to our next 9/11 hero. His name, Benjamin Keefe Clark. He was a chef who started his cooking career in the Marines. He became more the Marine than chef, and when the people around him needed it most, the moment a plane struck the South Tower. Here is Maria Hinojosa.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Benjamin Keefe Clark was a different kind of man. What was his favorite thing to do? Spend time in the kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He used to make a mean meat loaf.

HINOJOSA: Where he could be with his kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the one who would cook dinner for you. When you'd come home from school, the dinner would be cooked. All you had to do was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and sit down.

HINOJOSA: For his wife, La-Shawn, well, sometimes it was hard to believe that an almost perfect man could exist in this world.

LA-SHAWN CLARK, KEEFE'S WIFE: Even thought our marriage, I would get special gifts. I would get cards. I would get candy. I would get flowers. I would get just-because notices. I would have a letter up under my pillow. Once I made the bed up, I would find those things, or when the kids were sleeping, he would make a pattern up in the living room and have a little picnic for just he and I.

HINOJOSA: Keith was a giver, one of those unique men who truly liked to serve. Yes, that meant serving 250 meals a day at his job as a corporate chef in the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

CHAZ CLARK, KEEFE'S SON: Whenever someone needed help moving or -- he was a chef, so if they needed help at a party to cook, he would always be there. Just call him up, he would be there.

HINOJOSA: On September 11, Keefe could have escaped. He had more than enough time.

L. CLARK: He took care of the company. He took care of the workers. All of the workers got out.

HINOJOSA: But that day, Keefe Clark, the corporate chef, let Keefe Clark, the former Marine, the Gulf War veteran, the man of service, take over his soul and his actions. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After many people, dozens of people, had left, he went back to double check and made sure that literally no one was there behind.

C. CLARK: He went against instincts that told him to run out the building. For that, I consider him a hero. He was helping this lady in a wheelchair, along with three other workers. They were trying to help her get down the stairs at the time; none of them made it out, though.

HINOJOSA: The sadness is there, but for Keefe's five children and wife, there is comfort in his story of what a real life hero actually does and actually sacrifices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I look up to him and I will do something like that, of somebody who can do things.

HINOJOSA: A memory of his father one son honors in a mural he painted.

C. CLARK: He was hero. And he did what he could all the time, every time.

HINOJOSA: And his eldest son, a freshman at Morehouse College, remembers by emulating him. Chaz watched the tower collapse with his father inside and yet went straight to offer his help.

C. CLARK: At various triage services, we tried to offer our help. And at on center, we passed out food to people that were going to go in, to firemen and construction workers that were going to go in. I just didn't want to stand around and do nothing while all this was going on.

HINOJOSA: Leaving his Keefe's widow with a clear message about heroism.

(on camera): What do you say to your children about heroism?

L. CLARK: What do I say? I say Benjamin Keefe Clark, and I leave it at that.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): Keefe Clark, a man who just wasn't like all of the others, who served until the very end.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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