WREATH LAYING MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF BRIDGE COLLAPSE
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lenny LaCrosse, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West/Navy Office of Community Outreach
| July 19, 2017
170718-N-8855D-001 MINNEAPOLIS, MI (July 18, 2017) - Rear Adm. Fritz Roegge, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, participates in a wreath laying ceremony commemorating the I-35W bridge collapse as part of Minneapolis/St. Paul Navy Week events. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Lorna Mae Devera/Released) (Photo by Lt. Lorna Mae Devera, Navy Office of Community Outreach)
MINNEAPOLIS -- Two Sailors who dove in recovery operationsimmediately following the Minneapolis/St. Paul I-35W bridge collapse in August 2007 were joined by Rear Adm. Fritz Roegge, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District Col. Sam Calkins, Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek, and members of the Minneapolis police and fire departments for a wreath-laying ceremony July 18.
“On behalf of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office I offer our condolences to all the people affected by this tragedy ten short years ago,” said Stanek. “Especially the friends and families of the 13 victims who lost their lives. It is the loss of these people that we all feel whenever we remember that day, and that we honor today.”
The Minneapolis/St. Paul I-35W bridge collapsed Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145. Cars on the bridge fell into the Mississippi River below, trapping people in debris. The Navy’s Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 assisted in rescue and salvage operations.
Sheriff Stanek took time to commend the multiple agencies that responded in the wake of the immediate aftermath of the bridge collapse.
“Agencies from across the Twin Cities, ten different counties, the state of Minnesota and even the federal government came together to assist in the recovery operations,” Stanek said. “Partners like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army stood shoulder to shoulder with us as first responders. It was unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and hopefully unlike anything we’re ever going to experience again.”
Rear Adm. Roegge, a Minneapolis native and University of Minnesota Alumnus, took time to address the crowd about that tragic day.
“Challenges reveal the true nature of our character. If I could presume to speak for all Minnesota expatriates, we were proud to be Minnesotans when observing the courage of responders and the ordinary citizens who answered the call when this tragic event demanded it,” Roegge said.
Roegge also recognized the organizations that came together in the recovery efforts, and singled out Chief Navy Diver Noah Gottesman and Navy Diver 1st Class Brian Bennett for their involvement with MDSU 2 and the search and recovery mission.
“I would always prefer that Minnesotans would never need to notice what their Navy does every day, because if you didn’t notice us, that would mean that we’ve been successful at deterring conflict and that there was no need to respond to a catastrophe,” said Roegge. “But I hope it’s always a comfort to know that your Navy is always on watch, and always ready to respond.
The wreath-laying ceremony was one of the 94 events planned for the 2017 Minneapolis/St. Paul Navy Week. This ceremony marks the 10th anniversary of the bridge collapse, and serves to remember those who lost their lives, those injured in the tragedy, and to recognize those who aided in the search and recovery efforts.
The Navy Office of Community Outreach, Navy Recruiting District Minneapolis and Navy Operational Support Center Minneapolis joined with the Navy Parachute Team "Leap Frogs" and Navy Band Great Lakes, to showcase the Navy July 17-23.
Minneapolis/St. Paul Navy Week takes place in conjunction with the 2017 Minneapolis Aquatennial.