Nine Eleven Part OnePosted: September 11, 2013
This is the story of my 9-11 experience. There is not going to be to many pictures here. I have lots of pictures, but I do not want to put them on the internet because, well, they are mine.
If you are interested in seeing pictures, feel free to come by my bar anytime and I will show them all to you.
I have been meaning to put this down in writing for a while so here it goes:
9:00 am: I was in the shower getting ready for a 12pm to 8pm shift when the phone rang. “Dude, a plane just hit the twin towers.” The towers were located in the 1st precinct and my precinct is darn close. So, I thought..a bit more overtime for me tonight, as I imagined some poor old grizzeled solo pilot suffering a heart attack clipping the roof of one of the towers on his way down into the Hudson. Watching in disbelief with a towel wrapped around me, I hovered in the living room of my East Meadow basement apartment soaking the carpet as I watched the nightmare on TV.
As the towers burned, I thought better call Mom. As a rookie cop, my hours changed so often that no one in my family knew what my schedule was. Hell I did not know what it was. I sat and called mom letting her know I was home and not at work. Next call was to my partner, Rob Friedrich who was already in his car on his way to pick me up. Listening to the nightmare on the TV in the background, I quickly threw on whatever clothes I could find. I ran out the door, up the stairs and out into the street all in one swift move. Remember this is before I became fat.
9:30 am: Waiting for Rob, I called my father and inquired about the status of the LIRR just in case the roads were closed, backed up or just a mess. After talking to my father, I decided trains were not a good option. Rob pulled up and I hopped into his red Mercury Cougar. Driving down the Southern State parkway, I called in and was informed that the muster point was Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn. Rob hopped up onto the median and drove as fast as he could. When we got to the Belt Parkway, we discovered the NY State Troopers closed the Belt Parkway. It was now only open to FDNY, NYPD, EMS only. I think we hit 100mph on the now clear parkway. We arrived at Floyd Bennet Field.
2:o0pm: After signing in, we hopped onto a bus and headed to the precinct. Why did we not go straight to the precinct from the start is a question that still bothers me to this day. I was a rookie and did what I was told. Little did I know that the person that told us to go to Floyd Bennet Field was a complete fucking moron. From the precinct we were directed to go to South St and Pike St, Pathmark parking lot. Once there, I saw a large crowd of cops wearing uniform shirts with regular blue jeans. “uh oh” I thought. Everyone was running around gathering supplies. Mostly painter’s masks and flashlights….and gloves.
5:00 pm: I was assigned to a Mobile Patrol Unit with Lt. Donohue, Rebecca Mayo, Greg Rodriguez, Mark Restivo, Stephanie Brinkley, and Rob Ferriolo. Coming down Church St, I got my first glimpse. To me, it looked like we arrived on a movie set. I thought it was all fake. Has to be fake right? This can’t happen. I remember scrambling to help look for survivors. One memory I have is a Lieutenant running around asking if anyone knew morse code.
”Why?” I asked.
” Because we think there are people trapped in the rubble you can see them flashing something!!” he exclaimed.
”What are the odds some financial white collar guy trapped by rubble knows morse code?” I asked him without thinking. If I had thought about it, I would have just shut up. But the words just came out with reckless abandon. Like bullets fired from a gun, they could not be taken back. He looked at me, actually stared at me and just smirked. I think when the haze of adjrenaline cleared his mind, he knew I had a point. Still, they could be random flashes from people trapped. So off we went climbing the razor sharp steel pile. As we got closer, we could see that the flashes of light were just random reflections from plastic streamers hanging. What exactly those streamers were I have no idea, I just know they were not survivors.
8:00pm- we got back into the van and Lt. decided to return to our original function of Mobile Patrol. We made it over to an area where they were sorting body parts. This was my first experience with random body parts. We walked over to the refridgerated trailer and saw a young doctor wearing a white lab coat, green scrubs, dark hair tied into a pony tail and a 3m painters mask on. Standing in the trailer with a clipboard, cops would carry body parts over to her. She would then kneel down, remove the sheet, write something onto the clipboard. Next, she would place a tag on each body part and put them into the appropriate pile. I imagine what her nightmares must be like today. I wonder if she still has the white lab coat and green scrubs.
Ever see a shoulder with nothing else? Just an elbow? Ever see a foot with black high heel shoe still on? I have. I will spare you from anymore. If you can imagine it, I am sure I saw it by this trailer.
04:00 End of tour. Sometime during the night they decided we would work 12 hour tours, face to face reliefs. Our platoon would be working 4pm-4am.
rooftop photo courtesy of Christine Seppa.