We continue to present the extraordinary stories of those FDNY firefighters who were on the scene and operating in different areas before, during and after the collapse of the World Trade Center's 110-story twin towers following the terrorist attack on 9/11. The interviews were conducted by Harvey...
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I tried to move again. I said that's it. I put my head down and I just started praying. I said this is where I'm gonna buy it. For some reason, I lifted up my head and I saw the guys turn around. They saw me that I couldn't move and they all started running back for me and thank God they did. They grabbed me. They were able to lift up whatever my leg was caught under and they pulled me off and we were able to get to the other side of the highway.
They must have heard from talking to other guys that their seven guys were missing from the truck. So they said to me hey, Lieu, we're going to go off on our own, we've got to find our guys, we heard that they might be missing or dead. I said just watch yourselves, be careful. I said try to hook up with somebody from your battalion, just go do what you've got to do.
From there on, I walked north on the West Side Highway because I heard reports at that point of Maydays from 6 Truck. I could actually hear them over the radio. I heard Ralph Tiso coordinating everything with the command post and whatever guys were up on the pile. The guy did an outstanding job. I just want to say that and my hat's off to the guy. I mean the guy really did a phenomenal job of coordinating everything in that area.
I continued north. I was trying to see where I could get by the North Tower because I heard it was by the North Tower area that 6 Truck was trapped. By the time I got to that portion, I guess where the Marriott used to connect to it, I heard that 43 Truck had gotten to them and proceeded to remove them. Eventually, the Ladder 6 and Engine 39 members were all removed safely.
I saw Nick Visconti working by the American Express Building. I went over to the area between the north overpass and the south overpass. I saw guys digging. I heard that they had confirmed there was a guy buried underneath the rubble, so I just started operating there and sure enough we found a guy. The rest of the day, I just operated down there, digging the rest of the day with everyone else.
I wound up in the hospital late that night. I couldn't see anymore, my eyes were so badly scratched. Even though they washed them out, I wound up being taken to Staten Island Hospital and I couldn't see clearly for three days afterwards. My eyes were infected, but eventually healed.
Going down there, I only had one thing in mind - getting there, fighting the fire. I figured it's going to go on for weeks on end, that we were just going to go floor by floor by floor and everybody was going to get a piece of it and that was it, and we'd go home feeling good. I had no idea whatsoever - it never dawned on me that those towers would come down. It just never did. Maybe the top might have fallen off, but to have a total collapse like that?