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Oregon FBI agents remember 9/11

Kieran Ramsey, now the special agent in charge of the FBI Portland field office, shared memories of Ground Zero as part of a series of videos produced by the FBI to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. [Still from FBI video]

From raking through landfill debris with their hands on Staten Island to sifting through the remnants of Ground Zero in Manhattan, multiple Oregon FBI agents were shaped by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Kieran Ramsey, now the special agent in charge of the FBI Portland field office, shared memories of Ground Zero as part of a series of videos produced by the FBI to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Ramsey and three other staffers at the FBI Portland office shared memories and photos of how the terrorist attack and its aftermath affected and shaped them.

Ramsey was in his third year at the Seattle FBI office at the time of the attack, and he remembers fears of another mass casualty event in the days that followed and numerous calls reporting suspicious activity.

Within days, he and his team were deployed to Ground Zero as part of a Seattle Evidence Response Team.

“We were literally assigned to look in trucks as they were bringing out debris from Ground Zero to look for human remains and personal effects — anything else that stood out to us,” Ramsey said in the video. “Just finding those little things, and you’re wondering the whole time, did this person survive or did they not?”

Ground Zero was a place with “literally tens of thousands of people,” including thousands of police and firefighters and an influx of volunteers who arrived in Manhattan to help, "and yet you could hear a pin drop" when there was a call for silence indicating a casualty had been found.

“There was this weird sense of quiet,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey’s team later worked a landfill on Staten Island, where they combed through debris from Ground Zero “literally raking it by hand” in the search for remains and personal items. His team was aided by New York police, firefighters and government workers.

Another Portland agent, identified in the video only as Portland FBI Special Agent Brendan, was just out of college working a job in midtown Manhattan at the time. He remembers trying to get closer to help, but never got closer than 10 blocks away before the towers fell.

“I ended up being one of those people running away covered in all sorts of debris,” Brendan said.

His cellphone stopped working. He remembers heading back to Grand Central Station, and the silence on the train until everyone’s phones started going off in Connecticut.

A man identified in the video as Portland FBI Special Agent Damian was working as a member of a special weapons and tactics team out of the FBI’s Washington field office. He remembers “pagers going off” just prior to the Pentagon attack, and how smoke from it was visible on the freeway 15 miles away.

"I was so in awe of the Pentagon growing up, just being in D.C.,“ Damian said. ”To see it on fire was just a punch to the gut that morning.“

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.