Tampa firefighter featured on MetroCard commemorating post-9/11 search and rescue efforts

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If you ride New York’s subway in May, you may see one of Tampa’s own on your MetroCard. The city is honoring first responders who helped with rescue and recovery efforts after 9/11 and a Tampa firefighter is one of four featured on the limited edition cards.

Tampa Fire Rescue’s Assistant Chief of Operations Mark Bogush arrived at Ground Zero two days after the terror attacks.

“When you get there, you’re very overwhelmed by what you see,” said Bogush. “It almost looks like a movie set, like it's not real. But you know it's real. You smell it. You feel it. You're walking on it.”

Bogush was a lieutenant with TFR at the time and served as part of FEMA’s South Florida Urban Search and Rescue Team, Florida Task Force Two, helping the rescue and recovery efforts.

FEMA photographer Andrea Booher captured a photo of Bogush’s urban search and rescue K-9, Marley, alongside him in the rubble.

“You look back on the photo and it just brings every right back as if it had just happened a week or two ago,” said Bogush.

Their photo, along with three other photos by Booher, will be featured on 250,000 limited edition cards by the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, beginning Wednesday, ahead of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum’s new 9/11 Memorial Glade dedication on May 30.  

The last day of recovery efforts was May 30, 2002.

“The Glade is honoring all those rescuers who have since lost their lives because of exposure to dangers of that particular site and even remembering those that are still with us today, such as myself,” said Bogush.

He said he got an email from the museum asking for permission for his photo to be used. The photos were selected by a committee based on how it conveyed the tension and work efforts from that time.

He and Marley spent seven days there, working in the dark. Just beyond the site, he remembers families lined up.

“They would hold up big photos of their loved ones that had not been found yet,” he said.

Bogush spent time with them, Marley lightening their spirits.

“Lots of hugs, lots of tears. The dogs, of course, are always a big hit. They loved the dogs to death, and it really did those families a lot of good just to know that people were still searching,” he said.

Bogush said it did him some good, too, seeing people support each other after an unimaginable catastrophe.

“It was a very, very tragic event for America as a whole. But one of the things I took away as a positive to that was to see how America came together during that period of time,” said Bogush.

He plans to attend the dedication ceremony for the new memorial on May 30.

Bogush isn’t the only Florida first responder featured on the cards. Mike Nugent with Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue also shares that honor.