Death of bin Laden Stirs Responders' 9/11 Memories

The news brought elation, but also fresh tears for those killed and injured by the attacks.


Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines lit two candles Monday morning in the sanctuary of the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial Chapel -- one for the 343 FDNY firefighters who perished in the World Trade Center attack and one for those who are now suffering from illnesses after working at the site.

"When I heard the news (that Osama bin Laden had been killed), I was thinking not only of the firefighters but the citizens and children throughout the world who have suffered because of that man," Gaines said Monday afternoon.

Gaines said he hopes the death will bring some type of closure for survivors. "I believe justice has been done. An evil man is no longer on earth."

But, he said nothing will bring back the loved ones lost under bin Laden's reign of terror.

Gaines said he can't find the appropriate words to praise the military and special ops units for their perseverance in their mission to find bin Laden. He said the successful mission speaks volumes about America throughout the world.

"Tonight, I will light a candle for them as well as the other soldiers who have been involved in this war on terror," he added.

While he said he shares the pride, he stated that it is not the time to rest on laurels.

"I encourage every firefighter and EMS responder to be cautious and really pay attention," he said, noting that retaliation is very possible. "They really need to be aware for anything out of the ordinary."

Tim Brown, who narrowly escaped the collapse at the World Trade Center, says he's felt a myriad of emotions since learning about the death of bin Laden.

"When I first heard about it last night, I was completely stunned. It's been nearly 10 years. We never thought we'd hear this."

Brown, a firefighter with Rescue 3, was on a detail in the mayor's office of emergency management on Sept. 11. He had just run out of Tower 2 to get an EMS crew, and was headed back in when the ground shook.

He knows just how fortunate he is.

"To hear bin Laden was dead brought elation," he said. "But, it wasn't long before the tears came."

That also was the way retired FDNY Firefighter Vinny Brennan described it. "It's stirred up a lot of memories. I'm elated that they got him, and he's dead. But, I'm also thinking about my brother and the others who died that day," Brennan said.

Brennan's brother, Peter, was killed along with several others from Rescue 4. His remains were never recovered.

"I'm very happy, ecstatic...but it's still not going to bring my brother back."

Brown said of the news that surfaced late Sunday night that the man behind the worst terror attack on U.S. soil was killed: "It's a proud day for America, the world as well as the responders in New York and their families."

He mentioned that the daughter of a fallen firefighter described today as an "emotional rollercoaster."

"We are bursting with pride today, and we owe it to our military for completing the mission," Brennan, a former Marine, said.

Since Sept. 11, Brennan has helped families of other firefighters through his work with the National Fallen Firefighters' Foundation.

He described the mood at the FDNY counseling unit Monday as pleased but subdued. Brown said it's a historic day for America. "So many soldiers have made sacrifices. We'll never forget what they've done to bring justice..."