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A piece of the World Trade Center which became a beloved 9/11 memorial at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan — and was feared missing when American troops abruptly left the country — is safe and sound in upstate New York, The Post has learned.
A group of Queens veterans who arranged to have the 10-foot-tall, 900-pound steel girder, emblazoned with “WTC” and “9 11 01,” donated to US troops in Afghanistan in 2010, raised the alarm last month when no one seemed to know its location.
“Even people at The Pentagon didn’t know where it was,” said Claudia Thomas, a 9/11 first responder and former civilian contractor in Afghanistan, who was among those trying to determine the fate of the beam.
The 82nd Airborne commanded the base when the Breezy Point, Queens, chapter of the Sons and Daughters of America donated the relic. At the time, the veterans believed the beam would wind up in the 82nd’s museum in Fort Bragg, N.C., after US operations in Afghanistan ceased.
US troops hastily pulled out of Bagram in July, allowing looters to swoop in. When no one at Bagram or Fort Bragg could find the beam, the Queens veterans feared the worst.
“We were afraid we’d see it on TV with the knuckleheads from the Taliban jumping up and down on it,” said former NYPD officer Bob Crowley, who helped lead the effort to donate the beam to Bagram.
It served as a powerful reminder of the mission to root out terrorism and prevent another 9/11 attack, said Col. Stephen Ryan, a Breezy Point native and US Army reservist who served at Bagram.
But the piece of 9/11 history has actually been sitting securely on American soil, at Fort Drum, near Watertown, NY.
Turns out the 10th Mountain Division, which commanded the base after the 82nd, shipped the beam back to its headquarters in upstate New York in 2015 — unbeknownst to its donors, to the 82nd Airborne or to military leaders contacted by The Post.
The beam was installed at Fort Drum in a formal ceremony, said base spokesman Lee Reynolds, and lies in Clark Hall next to a piece of landing gear from one of the aircraft that struck the Twin Towers during the terror attack.
“Since that time it is the indoor focal point for the installation 9-11 ceremony,” Reynolds added.
Col. Ryan said he wished the process had been handled differently.
“But we’re just glad it’s back on US territory. I didn’t care if it was on Route 66 or in Anchorage, Alaska. The people in Breezy Point are happy because it ended up here in New York state.”
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