WATERLOO – Sixteen years ago, Brock Weliver was a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division, and his father, Steve, was a firefighter with Waterloo Fire Rescue.
The two were about 1,100 miles apart when hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.
On Monday, the father and son — both veterans and both firefighters — marked the historical event by giving blood during the fire department’s second-annual 9/11 Memorial Blood Drive.
“This is the first time I’ve given blood,” said Steve Weliver, who served as a medic in the U.S. Army in the 1970s before becoming a Waterloo firefighter. He retired from Waterloo Fire Rescue in 2010 with the rank of captain.
His son talked him into donating Monday.
“He asked what we were going to do today. We’re both veterans,” said Brock Weliver, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before following his father’s footsteps and joining the fire service in 2005.
He is currently a paramedic with the department.
In the downtown station’s truck bay, Red Cross workers tended to the Welivers and other donors.
“It’s just been a constant line,” said Battalion Chief Mike Moore. “People are stepping up. That’s nice to see.”
Last year, the drive drew 69 donors, so this year the department set a goal of 70 donors. Hy-Vee supermarkets donated meals for the donors.
“We don’t want to forget what happened that day. This is a just a great way to keep that event in our minds and remember what was lost that day,” Moore said.
Steve Weliver still remembers what he was doing when the terrorists attacked. He and another firefighter had that day off, and they were scouting locations for a whitewater kayaking course in the Fort Dodge. They had stopped by a Walmart to buy batteries, and he noticed footage on the TVs on display.
“I kept seeing this repeating video on the TV, and I asked what movie was this? ... Some guy overheard me ask and he said you haven’t heard?” Steve Weliver said.
Meanwhile, Brock Weliver was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
“We were in formation getting our Class A’s (uniforms) inspected when the Trade Center was hit,” he said. “We were actually on mission cycle at that time, so we were ready to be deployed anyway. … We were ready to go.”