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9/11/01: 20TH ANNIVERSARY
SOLEMN DUTY

Man helped identify bodies, return them to families

Glenn Billings | Woodward, Oklahoma

  • Updated
  • 1 min to read

Glenn Billings of Billings Funeral Home in Woodward, Oklahoma, was part of a mortuary team that goes to disaster sites and helps identify and return bodies to their families. He took a class two weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing and was told, "You must be prepared."

Gene Billings

Gene Billings helped recover bodies after 9/11 and return them to their families.

“I remember the first night after this class, I left there hoping we never have a disaster. Two weeks later, the OKC bombing happened,” Billings said.

Billings spent eight weeks in New York City after 9/11.

“When they found somebody, they brought him (or her) to the Medical Examiner's Office. If they’d bring people of service — police and firemen — we’d stop and line the street and salute every person,” Billings said.

The hardest part was knowing some of the victims.

"Fire Chief Ray Downey — who helped with the OKC bombing — he was killed on 9/11,” Billings said. “People I worked with in New York are like family, and some have passed away due to health complications from helping at 9/11.”

Billings said support services were available to help workers cope. Those unable to deal with it were sent back home.

“A year and a half ago, we went to NY for something my daughter had there, and we went to the 9/11 site. It was more emotional than I thought it would be,” said Billings.

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