If I Don't Do It, Who Will

20 Jan 2004 | Sgt. Christopher D. Reed

New tears were shed from what moments before seemed to be cold gray eyes. Staring off into space as he recollects that day of infamy when two jumbo jets slammed into the World Trade Towers … the thousand-yard stare. On that day, one of Lejeune’s Marines listened to National Public Radio as almost 400 fire fighters lost their lives helping people escape as the towers crumbled to the ground Sept. 11 2001. “You don’t leave anyone behind,” explains Gunnery Sgt. Peter C. Triolo III, radio chief of Radio Platoon, Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “It killed me knowing I couldn’t do a frigging thing.”Triolo, who also serves as assistant fire chief of the Piney Green Volunteer Fire Department, had listened helplessly as the twin towers burned violently to the ground.“When I go somewhere I bring everyone back with me. When it’s all said and done the only thing you care about are each other. It’s all about taking care of your own.”According to the five-foot-eight warrior, his reasons for becoming a firefighter were rather simple.“When I was a kid there were just some things I wanted to do,” Triolo said in a husky matter of fact tone of voice. “Being a firefighter was just one of those things.”“When you get that first service call for an accident or fire and you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into, you will either come back scared or be hooked for life,” Triolo explains. Slicing the air with his hands, he explains why he’s “hooked.” “You get chills, and then the adrenaline hits when you get on the scene of an accident or fire. When you get on the scene it is total chaos. You must learn to control the chaos and overcome your fear, but more importantly, you must try to help who you can.” The square jawed Carolinian recalls his “best” service call from the widow of a retired Marine who needed the battery changed in her smoke detector. “It was the look on her face, the look of appreciation that made it all worthwhile,” Triolo said. “That is what it’s all about…helping people, and besides, if I don’t do it, who will?” The self proclaimed workaholic and adrenaline junkie claims he has a simple life. “I don’t drink, I don’t party,” explains Triolo “I do my job then I go home. I fight fires and then I go home again. My life is very simple.”According to Triolo, who joined the Marine Corps in 1990, there are several parallels between being a firefighter and being a Marine.“You work as a team; there is a mission and a plan to execute that mission,” Triolo decreed. “As a Marine you are a member of a squad or platoon fighting the enemy. As a firefighter there is just a different enemy. The enemy is the fire or the accident.”According to Triolo, part of the key to his success as a firefighter comes from the value placed on leadership and teamwork he learned in the Marine Corps.“Leading people is the same no matter what the situation,” Triolo emphasizes. “And no matter what the situation you must work as a team toward a common goal.”Along with the high value Triolo places on leadership and teamwork, he also possesses key character traits which make him a valuable member of the Piney Green station “family” according to Christopher George, station fire chief.“He is my right hand man and I can count on him to be here at a moment’s notice,” George said. “He helps me keep my head on straight at times and we keep each other on our toes by trying to develop better ways to do our job.”Speaking from his heart through a swirling cloud of cigarette smoke Triolo declares, “It should not take something like a 9-11 for people to realize how important something is. Although I realize sometimes it does. When you put your head down at night and know you helped someone, it’s the greatest feeling.”