Visiting the ghosts of our past 9-11
What can one say about 9-11, a picture is worth a thousand words. After going through one of the hardest experiences of my life and burying alot of feelings,I have finally confronted the ghosts of my past. I sat down one night and searched the web for WTC 9-11 pictures.
I initially found many sites with many pics and they were both vivid and disturbing but I could not stop looking and searching. This has become a regular part of many of my evenings now. I am no hero, just a regular Fireman that arrived right after the second tower came down. Like all of us, I spent part of every day at the pile for the next 12 weeks. We searched and dug and looked and labored but we never found anyone alive. Just body parts and debris. My lungs and throat have been inflamed for 5 months. But worst of all is the part of me that was left behind on Sept 11.
Many of my brother Firefighters and I quickly assembled that morning. We took over a bus and ordered the driver to take us to the Staten Island Ferry. Along the way we grabed any type of tools we could find including the axes from the ferry. When we landed in downtown Manhattan we were greated by hundreds of broken men and women. They were ashen in color and barely able to walk but some how they gathered the strength to give us all a standing ovation as we marched toward what was left of the WTC. Words can never describe the feelings that overcame us from that moment on. The further up town we marched, the thicker was the air and the deeper the debris.
I teamed up with two other brother Fireman from my company and we agreed that what ever happens we would never split up. We reported in to a make shift command post. Chief officers were trying to put together a command post but every thing was in chaos.
The area looked like a scene from the blitz krieg in World War II. Every where one looked there were buildings on fire and cars incinerated and flipped. It was both desolate but busy. We stuck together and went from area to area looking to assist and help were ever we could.
We assisted setting up a tower ladder that was trying to put out building seven. We kept going toward the building and then were ordered out. It was floor after floor of flames and later that night it came down. Next we stumbled to an area were some FD personel were trying to jack someone out of a hole. They were using a tripod and we went over to see of we could help. While operating, I saw an old friend that I worked with years ago in brooklyn and went to shake his hand. As I leaned over, the side of a building came down and took out one of the original three of us. It began to rain debris. Many of us jumped under a tower ladder and then jumped back out for fear of being crushed. I have felt feelings of death many times in my career but this time it was different. There was a very real chance that some of us were going to be killed. As the debris continued to rain down many of us jumped down and dug in hoping for the best. Suddenly things went silent. My friend Tom said ,"did you get hit"? As I answered no, we both saw Bobby laying there. EMS personel jumped towards us and immediatly started a patient assesment. We boarded Bobby and carried him to triage thru the dust debris and chaos. EMS tried to separate us but I said,"no way, Until he's admitted were a team". Bobby was alive but busted up and my other buddy Toms knee was a mess. I told tom we will not leave Bob until he's in a hospital. Tom said ,his knee was shot but other then that he was ok, so we parted and I rode with bobby from triage to a real hospital.
As we arrived at the hospital an army of medical personel were on full alert and ready to go, but it was eerie. There were no patients other then Bobby and myself. Suddenly it dawned on me, there were no survivors. My eyes were cleansed and I rode an ambulance back to ground zero.
The night wore on and my mind became cloudy as I stumbled from area to area looking to help. I never found anyone else from my company that night. As I continued to search, I met an old firefighter that I worked with many years ago. Trying to be positive I said,"its real nice to see retired firefighters coming here to help out, How have you been, do you remember me"? He answered that," he certainly remembered me". Next he said words that I will never forget for the rest of my life. He said,"I have been looking for my son he was on duty in Engine Company.........."
Know what you mean . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Feelings mutual. You'd figure that after numerous months it would be easier to deal with what we've experienced first hand . . . it doesn't.
I saw a copy of a copy of a copy of the WTC video from inside tower 1. My wife came out during the first few min's of playing it, and was amazed and stunned as to the events that unfolded. I would point out things like, there's the commisioner, there's father mike, there's feehan, look at that EMS crew or two or three that came into the lobby. the jumpers hitting the building were still one of the things that still sit in my gut though, hearing the thuds as they hit. Atleast I got to see two former members of my department as they were approching the towers. May they and all lost there rest in peace.
Thanks for the many nice resposes
I just wanted to say thanks to the many brother and sister fire fighters who sent me very nice messages. I would also like to thank those who posted on this thread. It was real nice to hear from each and every one of you. We have been blessed with the support of brother and sister firefighters from all over the country and other countrys thruout this tradgedy. Thier attendance at every funeral and memorial service has helped us provide dignity for the families and has also shown us the pride, dedication and family that the fire service is. The other depts literally held us up at many of these services. In my first post when I had mentioned a firefighter that I had worked with many years ago, His son was recovered many weeks later and it was one of the many services we all attended. There were many firefighter fathers that buried firefighter sons. There were many wifes and children who went home alone. Unfortunatley for myself and many others, the events of 9-11 are going to haunt us for many years to come, both emotionally and physically. We are now beginning to find out that our lungs and health have taken a heavy beating from all this. I am one of the many of us who has chronic lung and treachea inflammation and of course the now common world trade center cough. I started my day by pouring a cup of coffee and sitting down to relax and read the paper. The front page of the paper had a huge article about the respiritory and health problems facing us all, another great start of a day. There is no doubt in my mind now that alot of us are going to have health problems from all of this.
Yesterday is gone and tomorro is not here, we only have today.
Thank you for sharing, happy.
Thank you so much for this post, happy. Like captnstan, I did not know anyone who responded personally. I don't even know anyone who went later, although the people from my area area providing lighting-Musco Lighting. My heart goes out to you, brother. I had tears in my eyes reading your post. Through the miracle of modern television, we were all transported there that horrible morning. When I saw the first tower go down, the first thing I said to my wife was "Oh, my god, all of those FF and EMS people were right there. They are all gone." You have my admiration for responding, and going back after the other collapse. And like Stan, if you, or anyone else needs to vent, just PM me. I usually check in a couple of times a day at least, as work and calls allow. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers daily. You have a worldwide brotherhood here for you.
Once again, thank you, take care, and be safe.