It was a day many Texans will never forget. On February 1st 2003, debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia rained down on many parts of East Texas. All seven astronauts on-board were killed. It was a great tragedy that would also unite our nation.
"It was the most sterling moment," said Paula Johnson who worked with The United Mounted Peace Officers Of Texas. "It made you feel like you were really contributing to the country and the nation."
Wednesday, U.S. Marshal John Moore presented awards to first responders who volunteered their time working in harsh conditions in the recovery.
"It was some of the worst conditions possible," said Moore. "It was February and the weather was terrible. We were basically in uncharted territories in some of the most rural areas of East Texas."
"I found some of the console," said Johnson. "Then we had some kind of a material hanging from a tree limb that three women of the posse found. We felt like it was at least worthwhile that we did find something."
Something that would help NASA piece together the cause of the crash and show the heroic spirit of East Texans. U.S. Marshals said it's been a long and thorough search to identify and reward these individuals. Other awards were presented Wednesday in Sulphur Springs and Franklin counties as well.