WTC: This Is Their Story - Part V

Captain John M. Sullivan Covering in 6th division (was in Fire Prevention Bureau on 9/11) 16 years I was up in the Bronx working in Fire Prevention, so I had a fire department car. I heard on the radio that the towers had been hit and I started...


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I went back down. When I went down past where the walkway was on the setback of Building 6, where the twisted ladder was, there were people screaming up there. They had a portable ladder, so I went up there and I found a lieutenant who was half in, half out of the building and his head was in bad shape. We put him in a Stokes and carried him down. And then after we got him down, some chief grabs me and said I'm having chest pains, so I started yelling down below. Nobody could hear me with all the noise and everybody running around, so I finally get somebody's attention and I pointed to the chief and I pointed to his heart. So we put him in a Stokes. I couldn't let him walk down there because it was like an almost two-story walk down the ladder.

When we got him down, it dawned on me. I went down the ladder after him. I said to him, Chief, you're going to the hospital, you're not going to need your radio, so I took his radio and off I went. I just spent the rest of the day walking around probably in a daze and digging here, digging there, listening for sounds. It was utter chaos. You would be digging in one section and somebody would say I hear something, I hear something. Everybody that was in that dig would abandon that section, run over to the other section.

One thing I'll never forget, if you went in the Customs Building and I pointed it out to people, where the back of the Customs Building was, you could look across the back and the side of the building - the hole in the side of the building, if you ever saw a doll house, how all the furniture was in, but just the front wall was gone, and in the middle of the whole thing was maybe a 15-foot I-beam sticking straight up with two arms on it like it was a cross. And I pointed that out to a few people.

A lot of the day after that part becomes a bit of a blur. I don't remember a lot of things. I remember digging. I remember being up on a hill running to another spot.

I asked myself the same question a lot of times, why didn't I run in the direction of the command center? You figure that would be the safe place. I go back, and where they found Angelini was I believe in that plaza area. I tell people that I actually never heard it coming down, and people tell me that I was lucky, because if I would have heard it, it would have been too late. I don't know.

I guess the biggest shock was when they told me that all the SOC chiefs were gone. And just utter chaos with everybody trying to dig here, dig there. And there was no equipment per se. Only getting shovels off fire trucks, hooks and whatever you could grab, you grab it. If you put something down, don't turn around because it was gone. Lights and gloves and if anybody had them, the masks. Most guys had no masks. The guys that were there had nothing, nothing. If you had a radio, you were like God.