Forum 9/11

“WTC: In Their

Own Words”

I just finished the book WTC: In Their Own Words. Harvey Eisner did a marvelous job of conducting all of those interviews and putting them into a book. I’m sure it will become a major publication and most valuable for the entire fire service.

The personal interviews give the most complete understanding of what actually occurred in the two towers and the exposed buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, than has previously been reported.

The individual and collective actions of FDNY members and their fire companies resulted in the saving of many citizens, at the cost of the lives of 343 members and numerous career-ending disabilities to many others.

The actions of the off-duty members who reported, prior to the recall, out of dedication to the department and the community is also most admirable and noteworthy, in the highest traditions of the fire service.

Chief of Department Peter Ganci’s operation plan included instructions that no extinguishment efforts would be conducted. It also stated that all procedures should concentrate on evacuation and rescue of occupants. Without doubt, this resulted in the saving of scores of lives of citizens and firefighters. Unfortunately, his concentration on implementing this plan, and protecting others, eventually cost him his own life.

Leo Stapleton

Commissioner (ret.)

Boston Fire Department

Boston, MA


Never Forget

The book WTC: In Their Own Words is a wonderful collection of stories from those who endured this tragedy first-hand. This is a powerful and truly fabulous book and one which I will treasure in my own library.

We who witnessed this brutal attack will never forget, should never forget, this cowardly attack on America, but for those too young or not yet born, WTC: In Their Own Words serves as a kind of “Band of Brothers” account of the dedication, the pain, the suffering and the heroics of 9/11. As one reads this book, these personal accounts of those firefighters on the scene, you can’t help but feel the emotions as the words and photographs reach off the page and draw the reader into the dust-covered streets of Lower Manhattan.

WTC: In Their Own Words provides a remarkably complete historical account of the region, of the World Trade Center complex, of the FDNY and of the horrible tragedy of that fateful day 10 years ago. My personal thanks go out to each firefighter who contributed to this book, not only for their brave and selfless service during this attack, but for opening their hearts and minds and sharing their innermost feelings so that all Americans, all people, will never forget.

Every firefighter, past, present and future, should read this book. It brought me back to Rescue 2 in the days after 9/11, drinking coffee at the kitchen table, listening as the fellows shared their thoughts and emotions of that horrible day and of the painful loss of so many dear friends. WTC: In Their Own Words is a remarkable, first-hand account of the greatest rescue effort and most tragic day in American fire service history.

This book brings you into the events of that day in the same way that We Were Soldiers Once...and Young brought the reader into the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam. The words spoken in these interviews like; “dead silence,” “the buildings gone,” “get me out of here” and “whoever was there is dead” are painful reminders of this horrible and cowardly attack on America, but words we all need to hear and remember. This book is a fitting and respectful tribute to the courage of 343 fallen brothers and to the courage of those men who lived.

Michael Veseling

Romeoville Fire Department

& Fire Academy

Romeoville, IL

Copies of WTC: In Their Own Words may be purchased at