On September 11, 2001 Jason Mattingly sat down to eat his breakfast just like any other morning. Afterwards, he and his father turned on the news...it was a scene that took them from disbelief to tears in only a few moments. His father, a veteran knew immediately that this was no accident; that it was certainly an act of terrorism.
At that moment, Jason knew he had to do something to make a difference. Because of health issues, he couldn't join the military or become a police officer so he decided to join the Hardin County Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, later becoming a firefighter for the for the city of Savannah, TN. In 2008 he moved to Fort Smith and still had the strong desire to do something to memorialize the lives of the first responders during the Sept. 11 attacks, but what?
The 15th anniversary of Sept. 11 sparked an idea. Mattingly gathered a few co-workers, and with the support of the Bokoshe Volunteer Fire Department and Sen. Tom Cotton, the 9/11 Memorial Fire Truck Engine 343 was born. They chose the name, Engine 343, to honor the 343 firefighters lives that were lost on 9/11.
Engine 343 is an educational memorial to the 343 firefighters who lost thier lives on September 11, 2001. The antique 1969 Ford F-1000 Super Cab is completely restored and outfitted with photos of firefighters who died that day. The truck travels to schools and participates in parades to commemorate those firefighters. Eventually we plan to take the truck to New York and let their fire department, police department, and EMS take a look at it. We want those who were close to the scene to be a part of the memorial, both contributing to it and taking away from it. The truck was a gift from the Bokoshe Fire Department after it was taken out of service.