A story of a dedicated first responder, his dog, and how an angel saved them both on that fateful day.
For many, the memory of the events that happened in lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11th, 2001 starts with the recollection of where they were at the time that they first heard about the attack. Everyone will tell their story a bit differently, but the facts always remain the same. At 8:45AM that Tuesday morning, American Airlines flight 11 struck the north tower of the World Trade Center and just a short 18 minutes later United Airlines flight 175 struck the south tower. That morning, you may have been on your way to work, in school with your classmates, or sitting at home drinking a cup of coffee, all of us learning for the first time of the events in disbelief.
As residents of lower Manhattan fled the rubble, local NYPD and FDNY jumped into action to rescue and save as many lives as possible. Many knowing they may give their life in the process of serving others. Officer Chris Christensen’s instincts were no different. He knew he had to do something to help. Though he was not NYPD, rather an officer from East Carondelet, Illinois, he packed up his squad car, his search and rescue K9 named Servus, and called up his mayor.
While Officer Christensen and Servus were searching for survivors in the rubble of the south tower, Officer Christensen’s backpack caught a piece of twisted metal framing. At that same moment, Servus leapt to him, but the snagged backpack prevented him from catching his trusted K9. Subsequently, Servus fell through the opening 10-15 feet into the dust below. Resting on a ledge with Servus now not breathing, Officer Christensen tried everything he could to help him breath, all the while, the remains of the building groaned at them with an impending threat. With a heavy beam headed straight towards them, Officer Christensen spoke to God directly, praying the beam would spare their lives. He looks back now at the moment the beam stopped and says it best, “that angel saved my life and my dogs life that day”.
With the beam no longer headed towards them, Officer Christensen was able to get both himself and Servus out of the rubble and get him breathing again. Seeing Servus hurt, his NYPD brothers in blue called for backup and helped rush Officer Christensen and Servus to the Animal Medical Center where they were able to save Servus.
After being asked to machine engrave a Model 629 revolver in memory of Servus’, it is with honor and gratitude that the employees of Smith & Wesson present a beautiful one-of-a-kind, hand engraved Model 629 to Officer Christensen. It is first responders like him and Servus that make us profoundly proud to be Americans and exemplify the American people. In the words of Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith, “It is people like you, lions, who secure out freedoms and way of life for future generations. While there are no words I can write in this letter that would appropriately thank you and Servus for your sacrifices and service, we hope you will accept this small token of our appreciation from all of us at Smith & Wesson.”
To all first responders and the law enforcement community, please know that while we can never repay you for your sacrifices, that we are forever deeply grateful for your commitment to safeguarding our communities.