The Victims Of
September 11, 2001
And Our Flag Was Still There!
It's been 19 years and the memories are still as vivid as the day I received them. Below are the first hand accounts from our Rockaway family. I am reposting them as a stark reminder of how deeply felt the pain was. I am still grateful to those who chose to take the time to share their stories.
For the past few days I have been in a state of shock. My heart told me that I must post something on this website to address the horror of what happened on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Quite frankly, I wanted to right away but I just didn't know what to say. So many of us who are living all over the world, watched as our beloved New York became the target of hatred. Communications were cut off and as hard as I tried to reach my cousin Ellyn in Manhattan, the circuits were overloaded and I just couldn't get through. It took a few days of repeated attempts to finally get through. I am happy to say that she is all right. But I fear that the same thing can't be said of all of our Rockaway alumni who live and work in Manhattan. I pray that your loved ones are safe.
My wake up call to post something came today.....I received a few letters asking me if I had heard from anyone in New York or knew of any alumni who had been affected by this tragedy. The answer is No, I didn't. Until today! Below is one extremely moving story sent to me by Ann-Marie Rooney, Class of 1974. If you would like to use this page for sharing your experiences and thoughts about what happened the day America changed, please email me at email@example.com Below is Ann-Marie''s letter.
Alan 'Skip' Weinstock
Class of 1963
My dear friend David Lim is from Far Rockaway. His parents owned On-on Kitchen across from St. Mary's Church. He is a Port Authority Police K-9 officer who was stationed at the WTC. It is nothing short of a miracle that he survived on Tuesday. Here is his chilling and graphic account in an email he sent to me yesterday, because I couldn't get through to him by phone. He will be on NBC Dateline tonight between 8 and 11pm EST.
I'm not very articulate, so bear with me. It was 0845hrs when the the first plane struck the North Tower. I locked Sirius in his kennel & proceeded to the Plaza of #1 WTC to assist in evacuation. I noted a body that had either jumped or was thrown out a higher floor. I had never seen anything like this in my life. While calling in the DOA, another body landed 50 ft from the first. I was advised of multiple aideds on the upper floors & proceeded up the "B" staircase. I stopped on the 27th floor to assist & sat with FDNY to rest before we continued. They were wearing full bunker gear & hauling a lot of equipment. I called Diane (my wife) & told her I was all right.
I made it to the 44th floor skylobby & while I directed people to the stairway, I saw the 2nd plane strike the South Tower. I was knocked off my feet by the concussion. I quickly gathered the remaining people & firemen & headed back down the stairs. On the way we encountered some elderly & physically challenged persons. The fireman began dropping their equipment & carrying them down. On the 21st floor I saw 3 other officers & was advised of the collapse of the South Tower. We assisted another aided & kept moving down. On the 5th floor I found a Battalion Chief trying to help an injured woman. I stopped to help & we got to the 4th floor when the North Tower collapsed on top of us. Myself, 6 firemen from Ladder 6 & Josephine survived only suffering minor injuries.
We gathered our radio's & began signaling "Maydays & 10-13's". I called my wife on my cell phone & passed the phone to the others to call their families. I made a friend in "Mikey" keeping him awake (concussion). We were rescued by Rescue 43 @ 1430hrs, but still had to traverse the debris mountains to get out. Small fires, exploding ammo (US Customs armory), electrical wires & gaping holes hindered our escape. After finally getting out, we looked backed & realized how lucky we really were. The scene was both surreal & horrific.
I have been a Police Officer for almost 22 years & have never seen such devastation. This made WTC/1993 look like a firecracker in comparison. I grieve for those friends that I have lost & those I will never know. I also grieve for the best partner I ever had. Sirius is still in his kennel waiting for me.
Dave "Out on a" Lim
David (front left) being honored by New York City, ringing the opening bell at the N.Y. S. E. on September 17, 2001.
I have a message for all the rescuers too:
To all of you who are involved in the rescue efforts and are exposed to the devastation day after day...to those of you who are experiencing the pain of knowing your friends are missing and yet you still continue with the rescue...to you who can't come home and hug your family because you are so involved in saving others...To you who have come to our aid from other states and agencies...My heart goes out to you with sincere gratitude for the tremendous work you're doing. You are all so brave and we will never forget you. Be safe. Peace to you.
This is from my friend Dave Lim, Port Authority Police officer and hero extraordinaire. If you want to give, I sincerely recommend this.
If anyone is interested in donating to victims of the WTC Attack, please consider the following & forward to as many people as possible. Thank You
The Port Authority PBA is extremely grateful to all those who have offered assistance to our membership in this time of need. We have had innumerable offers of financial help for the families of members of the Port Authority Police Department affected by the World Trade Center disaster. The PBA has set up a separate fund specifically for the purpose of aiding and assisting the survivors. Tax deductible donations may be made to:
Port Authority Police; World
Trade Center Disaster Survivors' Fund;
c/o Port Authority PBA, Inc.;
611 Palisade Avenue; Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
My name is Alan Levy, Class of 65. One of our graduates has been missing since 9/11. He graduated also in 1965. His name is Sandy Stoller. He had worked on the 94th floor in Tower 1. I have been in constant contact with his Wife Trudy who also graduated from Far Rock class of 68 and I had talked to her today and as of this afternoon still no word. I don't know if anybody else is missing from our area. Skip, I also work in the area. I am several blocks south of the towers and I had gotten a phone call about the first plane. My wife had called to let me know. Then I went downstairs to see what was going on. In the lobby I heard the rev of the jet engine and as soon as I walked outside I saw the explosion of the second jet. At that point all buildings were evacuating people and a short while later police were advising people that were closer to Battery Park to get into the park because of all the mess coming off the towers. A short while later people were screaming and running. I turned around and saw the towers collapse. The whole downtown area was like seeing a nuclear holocust. I worked downtown since I got out of high school and this was the worse thing I ever encountered. I got lucky and as I was working North near the South Street Seaport and I found a bus going into Queens and took it. You can add my story as well if you like. It is so hard to imagine what happened by watching it on TV. Being there was worse. But people were working together and helping one another and that was great.
Talk to you soon
BULLY FOR JOHNNY
by Donna Gaines, Class of 1968
Village Voice, October 3, 2001
When he met the Bullys in
1998, Marky Ramone liked the band so much he produced their first album,
Stomposition. Feral as Deadboys, polished as Professionals, bridge-and-tunnel
like the Ramones (three of the original members grew up in my hometown,
Rockaway Beach), the Bullys mixed old-school punk with a Gen X face and
a strong left hook. Songs chronicled life on
suburbia's mean streets. "It's Still My Home" was an oath of blood loyalty, a Celtic warrior's do-or-die pledge to love and defend his turf.
Bandmates agree that Johnny Heff was the Bullys. The rhythm guitarist sang backups, wrote most of the material, set up their Web site, fronted cash for recording, and booked shows. Onstage, Johnny and voxman Joey Lanz boasted of bad-boy brawling, boozing, and womanizing. Offstage, Johnny didn't drink, he was a devoted son, and his heart belonged to his wife, Laurie, and her nine-year-old daughter, Samantha. He was also a firefighter with Engine 28-Ladder 11 on East 2nd Street. He had eight years on the job. On September 11, FF John Heffernan had the day off, but he decided to go in for the overtime. By the second alarm, John's truck headed out toward the WTC. To date, all six members of Ladder 11 are M.I.A.
The Bullys already had a show booked for September 22 at their favorite punk palace, the Continental. With hope still alive, nobody wanted to call it a memorial, so owner Trigger declared the event a tribute, donating the night's earnings to a family relief fund. The Waldos, Turbo AC's, and Pisser played for free and the club rotated the Bullys' second album, Tonight We Fight Again. On September 11, Johnny walked into hell, in full stomp position. Whether you were his friend, his blood, bandmate, neighbor, or FF brother, Johnny had you covered. That day, homeboy showed the real bullies what our Bullys are made of.
For information regarding donations to the family and future events in honor of FF John Heffernan, log on to the band's Web site at www.thebullys.com or e-mail Walt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: John's body was found the day after the Village Voice went to press. His funeral at St Camillus was attended by over 1000 people including state officials, reps from Pataki's office and uniformed persons. Mayor Giuliani visited the wake as well as the cemetary. A memorial concert at the Continental is being planned for December.
Memory of Henry Miller Jr. Class of 1967
By Víctor Manuel Ramos
September 30, 2001
Firefighter Henry A. Miller Jr. had a lot to look forward to in his life. A longtime Massapequa resident and cancer survivor, he was to celebrate his 53rd birthday and seventh wedding anniversary with relatives and friends next month. After 28 years of service with downtown Brooklyn's Ladder 105, Miller was also considering retirement two years from now, finally yielding to repeated requests from his concerned wife.
But Miller was right across the bridge from the World Trade Center last Tuesday morning and, just as he did after the terrorist trade center bombing in 1993, drove one of the company's hook and ladder trucks to be with his colleagues among the first emergency personnel at the scene.
Miller never returned and is officially listed among the missing in last week's attack.
His relatives and friends want to remember him as the gentle and jovial fellow he was, a bulky man who loved the sea, surfing and scuba diving, but who mostly saw himself as a firefighter, always willing and ready to help.
Miller, whose father retired as a 38-year veteran of the department, had been injured in the line of duty before, including the time when he suffered serious smoke inhalation trying to rescue people after the 1993 bombing.
Miller was born in New York City and grew up in the Rosedale section of Queens. Although he started studies to become an accountant at Manhattan's City College, he soon decided he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a firefighter.
He was of composed character, rarely raising his voice or losing his temper about anything, relatives and friends said, a trait that fit well with his devotion to help those in need.
But he was also a fun-loving Irishman who knew where to get the best pizza on Long Island and in New York City, and who loved practical jokes.
When Miller was diagnosed with cancer about eight years ago, he kept going with his work and life, eventually beating the disease. He and his wife, Diane, married seven years ago next month, and Miller was secretly preparing to commemorate the event. When Diane went through his belongings this past week, she found a folded receipt from the jeweler's store where he had purchased a gift for her. His birthday would have been on Oct. 18.
More than once, Miller had the opportunity to retire but couldn't see himself not helping people.
"He was a part of so many people's lives," said his stepson, 30-year-old Scott Freedman. "He taught me how to be a man, how to deal with this. He was always a wonderful father to me."
Miller's relatives include a daughter, Melissa Lansbury of Falls Church, Va.; his parents, Henry Sr. and Beatie of Rockaway Park, Queens; a granddaughter, Rachel, 18 months old; a brother, Wayne, of Far Rockaway, Queens, and sisters, Corrine Warnock of Rockaway Park and Janice Testa of Valley Stream.
There is going to be a memorial service for him tomorrow, Monday, October 1, in Rosedale
This city has been in an unbelieveable state since the attacks. People have pulled together in a way I never believed possible of New Yorkers, and I have never been so proud of my city and my country.
Yesterday, Friday, September 28th, I had an experience on the way to my office that I would like to share with you:
As I walked from the subway, along Seventh Aveneue towards Carnegie Hall, I passed a hotel, and saw 2 shovels propped against the side of the building, and a young man sitting on a small pile of baggage, some of them marked with masking tape bearing the legend "Canada" with the name of a town I don't remember, and others marked "metal".
On impulse I doubled back and went up to the young man, who was in his mid-twenties, probably the age of so many of our sons and daughters. I said "Excuse me" and when he looked up I asked "Are those yours?", pointing to the shovels. He said yes, and then I asked "Were you here to help?" and pointed in the direction of downtown. He said yes again, and I could do no more than hold out my hand and say "Thank you" while tears filled my eyes, and then "Thank you" again. He replied "No problem", but I suspect that probably wasn't the truth.
I cry every time I think of that encounter, and suspect that it will stay with me for some time. I'm one of the fortunate ones. My life has been not been touched by personal loss, just a terrible sense of loss as a New Yorker. My family and friends are safe (thankfully my daughter works just a few blocks away from me, and rushed to my office right after it happened. We walked home to Rego Park together with tens of thousands of stunned New Yorkers that unforgettable morning), but I know so many people who lives were directly touched.
Even being here when it happened doesn't make it seem any more real than it must seem to those out of town. It still seems like we've been watching another one of those special effects films that we so often see on TV.
I am thankful to the wonderful firefighters and police and EMS and Port Authority workers and volunteers from all over who came to help, and will never forget their contributions. The city will rebuild, but never forget.
Ellen Smith Hansen
Support for the United States is pouring in from countries all over the globe. Below is a letter I received from Paul Friedman, Class of 1965. Paul was stationed on the USS Forrestal and injured when the ship had its terrible fire several years ago. Paul has stayed in touch with many of his shipmates and received this wonderful letter written by one of his buddies to his father. I am passing it along to you as an example of how much pride and support we have all around the world.
This letter was by Paul's former shipmate stationed aboard the USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL to his father just after the September 11th attack, and a copy of the letter was sent to Paul.
Well, we are still out at
sea, with little direction as to what our next priority is. The remainder
of our port visits, which were to be centered around max liberty
and goodwill to the United Kingdom, have all but been cancelled.
We have spent every day since the attacks going back and forth within
imaginary boxes drawn in the ocean, standing high-security watches,
and trying to make the best of our time. It hasn't been that fun I must confess, and to be even more honest, a lot of people are frustrated at the fact that they either can't be home, or we don't have more direction right now. We have seen the articles and the photographs, and they are
sickening. Being isolated as we are, I don't think we appreciate the full scope of what is happening back home, but we are definitely feeling the effects.
About two hours ago the junior
officers were called to the bridge to conduct Shiphandling drills. We were
about to do a man overboard when we got a call from the LUTJENS(D185),
a German warship that was moored ahead of us on the pier in Plymouth, England.
While in port, the WINSTON S. CHURCHILL and the LUTJENS got together for
a sports day/cookout on our
fantail, and we made some pretty good friends.
Now sea they called over on bridge-to- bridge, requesting to pass us close up on our port side, to say goodbye. We prepared to render them honors on the bridgewing, and the Captain told the crew to come topside to wish them farewell. As they were making their approach, our Conning Officer announced through her binoculars that they were flying an American flag. As they came even closer, we saw that it was flying at half-mast. The bridgewing was crowded with people as the Boatswain's Mate blew two whistles -Attention to Port- the ship came up alongside and we saw that the entire crew of the German ship were manning the rails, in their dress blues. They had made up a sign that was displayed on the side that read "We Stand By You". (Click on the photo to view it in its larger format)
Needless to say there was not a dry eye on the bridge as they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and we cut our salutes. It was probably the most powerful thing I have seen in my entire life and more than a few of us fought to retain our composure. It was a beautiful day outside today.
We are no longer at liberty
to divulge over unsecure e-mail our location, but we could not have asked
for a finer day at sea. The German Navy did an incredible thing for
this crew, and it has truly been the highest point in the days since the
attacks. It's amazing to think that only a
half-century ago things were quite different, and to see the unity that is being demonstrated throughout Europe and the world makes us all feel proud to be out here doing our job. After the ship pulled away and we prepared to begin our man overboard drills the Officer of the Deck turned to me and said "I'm staying Navy." I'll write you when I know more about when I'll be home, but for now, this is probably the best news that I could send you. Love you guys.
Jonathan "John" Bush, Class
of '74 here. Just read your moving account of 9/11/01.
I'm in seminary in Baltimore, MD, to hopefully be ordained a Catholic priest in 2005. Needless to say, we have been doing a lot of praying here. I have heard of many friends and otherwise who were involved in the horror.
I saw David Lim on NBC. He is in my prayers now more than ever. I wondered if you know of any other alums involved in any way. I am also most interested to find Edward "Eddie" Conroy, also '74, who also became a policeman.
New York is in my prayers... always.
I was watching the news last
night and saw they had an Andrew Fisher missing. They had a picture
but it was over exposed and hard to tell if it was the same Andrew Fisher
I knew from Far Rock (Class of 81). I tried his email address but my emails
are coming back with delivery
errors. I was wondering if you have been getting information on any alumni's that may be missing. I would really like to send a card/flowers to Andrew's family or any classmate's families that have been devasted by this horrific act.
Thanks for your help.
Diane Pietro, Class of 1981 Diane.Pietro@nwa.com
I was on my way to work on Tuesday, 9/11 when I heard that a plane crashed into the WTC. At first, I thought it might be a small plane. As soon as I walked into my office, I immediately went to my window. I am on the 6th floor and my view is of the Manhattan skyline. There I saw one of the towers ablaze. Black smoke filled the sky above. I turned away from the window for only a second and when I looked out the window again, I saw the second tower billowing black smoke. I was glued. I shouted to everyone on the floor to come to the window and look. It seems like only minutes later there was a blast of white smoke. At that point we could only see 1 tower billowing black smoke. We just knew that the other tower had collapsed. A bit later on, we once again saw white smoke....when that started to clear, we no longer saw the 2nd tower. From that point on, only black smoke filled the skies.
Alan, I have NEVER seen anything like that in my life. For the rest of the day, we all stood at the window watching, turning on radios and tv sets. We could not believe what we had witnessed.
Later on that week, we had F15's flying over the house chasing private planes away from the airport. Offshore, outside of Debs Inlet, the ships began to anchor. The harbor was being cleared. The George Washington aircraft carrier was patrolling the waters just outside the inlet. As of yesterday, the ships are still anchored outside the harbor.
Two doors away from me, a woman has hung a yellow ribbon on her house hoping that her husband, a nyc fireman who was first on the scene, will be found.
In back of me, my neighbor has done the same in hopes that her nyc policman brother is found.
The mood here in ny is solemn. People walk around crying, myself included. Flags are being flown on every house and street. Candlelight vigils are being conducted in every neighborhood every night.
Now we just hope and pray that more survivors are found but that does not look as if that is going to happen. We know war is imminent and now pray for our children who might be involved in any future endeavors.
Eileen Schultz, Class of 1967
My daughter called me Tuesday
morning with a terse "turn on the TV, any news channel." When the
first screen came up with a live shot of the World Trade Center as the
second plane hit, I couldn't take it in at first. Because of the
small TV screen, it looked like an awful special effects disaster movie.
As the reality sank in, so did the horror. I watched all day as a
my chest grew heavier and heavier. I finally had to turn the TV off in the late afternoon. I couldn't take any more images or sounds of the destruction.
I've gone through all the stages we've all experienced; shock, grief, anger. I tear up easily even now if I think too intently of the great loss of life.
I didn't work at the World Trade Center anytime during my career but for 10 years, I hosted dinners at the Windows on the World for one of my company's incentive programs. I still can't imagine NYC without it but its loss is not in the same category as the loss of all the people trapped and dying as this symbol of our financial power sunk to the ground.
There is no doubt in my mind that this country will not only weather this blow but be stronger and more resolute because of it. The terrorists may believe they have humbled us, weakened us, but to the contrary, they have imbued us with the strongest sense of pride, patriotism and determination. We will prevail.
Patricia Feller, Class of 1956
In the nation's most horrific tragedy ever, hundreds of courageous firemen left their families and risked their lives to save others. These firemen exhibited a courage that no one can ever imagine. Many of these firemen have died in the tragedy, leaving behind families that are in need.
Please take the next few minutes to write a check for $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, $500 or more and send it to the Uniformed Firefighters Association Widow's and Children's Fund.
For more information on the Uniformed Firefighters Association Widow's and Children's Fund, please click here.
Let's help their families by making a donation. Even the smallest amount will help. Please forward this email to as many people you can.
Send your check to:
UFA, Widows and Children's
c/o Uniformed Firefighters Association
204 East 23rd Street, 5th floor
New York, NY 10010
TWO THOUSAND ONE, NINE ELEVEN! Sent in by Robert Schreiber - Thanks
TERRORISM by Susan Marcus Rauch, Class of 1969