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    Anger simmers among former N.Y. police officers in Spring Hill

    Their homes are here and their hearts are there with friends and relatives on the New York City police force.


    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published September 13, 2001

    [Times photo: Kevin White]
    Sharing pain and anger, John O'Halloran, top, talks about the lack of security at airports at a meeting of the 10-13 Club in Spring Hill, while Lou Hernandez, below, becames emotional as he speaks about the attack.

    SPRING HILL -- Jim Lowery is a retired New York City police lieutenant whose daughter followed him into the force.

    By Wednesday evening, she had put in two 12-hour days surrounded by the destruction of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

    She had walked through the rubble of the World Trade Center. She had seen countless bodies. She knew 50 to 60 firefighters were missing.

    "I think the attitude of the officers is changing," said Lowery of Spring Hill, who served 21 years in the New York Police Department. "At first, we were shocked. Anger is taking over right now."

    Spring Hill has long been a magnet for retired officers from the city, said Tony DeMarzo, president of the Hernando 10-13 Club, made up of former members of the New York police force.

    His organization, which takes its name from the radio code for an officer needing assistance, met Wednesday night at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Spring Hill. It has 130 members. Almost inevitably some of them were directly affected by such a large-scale attack.

    "When this thing hit, it hit home," DeMarzo said. "Spring Hill is loaded with New Yorkers."

    He began the meeting by listing those who had been directly affected by the tragedy. One member had not heard from his son, who was one of the first firefighters on the scene. Another believed he had lost a nephew. All of the former police officers realized they would probably know some of the officers who have been reported missing.

    Lloyd Probst, 76, said his son-in-law is a firefighter who works as a driver for one of the city's fire chiefs.

    "He lost about 40 friends," said Probst, of Spring Hill. "He and the battalion chief came back uptown and started passing out paperwork after the first shift and the guys just weren't there."

    As members listened, many of them smoking and sipping beers or rum and Cokes, their anger seemed to build.

    "We can talk all day long about this bull----, but Israel has the right idea," said Lou Hernandez of Spring Hill. "Tit for tat. You take out 15,000 of ours, we take out 15,000 of yours. They want to go to Allah, let them go to Allah."

    "We need another crusade, to destroy the f------ infidels," said Tom Zaccone, who lives in nearby Pasco County.

    Other members mentioned other outrages. A doctor, who they assumed was foreign born, had been reprimanded by a hospital in Spring Hill for stating that America had deserved the attack. Another member repeated a news report that terrorist pilots had been trained in Florida.

    There was also anger directed at the Central Intelligence Agency and the federal government in general for not anticipating the attack, and airport security for not detaining the terrorists.

    "Our CIA has got to stink," DeMarzo said. "First of all, we got to stop these people from getting on these planes in the first place."

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