September 11

LD17

MIA
So 20 years later, I guess I should take a page from @ex_colonial ..

1. The Prelude

On the morning of September 10 I played my last (didn't know it at the time) ice hockey game for the Precinct team (NYPD is divided in 76 Precincts, 77 now, which are based on something called coterminality. In 1977 the City was divided up so that each neighborhood had its own Community Board, Police Precinct, Fire Coys, etc.) I then came in for a 4x12 tour (1500x2335, Patrol worked eight hours and thirty five minutes, so each tour would overlap, with three of these tours each day. 1st Platoon was Midnights, 2nd Platoon Day Tours, 3rd Platoon Four Bys). It was a normal day, assigned Sector Henry/Ida (Precincts were divided into a varying number of sectors, optimally each sector would get a car with two Cops in it but even with almost 45,000 personnel this rarely happened. BTW we, NYPD, used a different phonetic alphabet...Adam, Boy, Charlie, Eddie, Frank, George,.....) and went End of Tour at 2340. Got home after midnight and watched "Trainspotting". Fell asleep but had to be back at work for 0400, Tuesday September 11 was election day in NYC and the NYPD ran elections in NYC. (There used to be a NYPD Bureau of Elections, the Tammany Hall Democratic machine had previously used it to make sure you voted for the right candidates...) We basically set up the voting machines (these were massive machines which required the voter to throw a lever not unlike a railway track switch lever, to register their votes). Then a Cop stayed at the polling place until it closed, gathered the vote tallies, brought them to the Precinct and then the tallies were entered in an MSDOS (black screen green letters) program by Cops trained to do this, one of them was me, hence the reason I had to be there at 0400 to help set up and prepare for the day.
 

LD17

MIA
2. And So It Begins

So getting to work at 0400, I went about setting up the machines and various polling places and made sure that the Cops (mostly new or flown in from other commands) knew what they had to do. Came back to the Precinct and helped to do roll call for the election detail with my friend (old time Detective) Mike who was running it (Way back when the day to day operations of a Precinct mostly depended on veteran Police Officers and Detectives, though there was a chain of command, these guys/gals really ran The Job. Almost like RSMs). Around 0700 or thereabouts, my work done for now (polls opened at 0600) and not being needed again to probably 0900 I went to take a nap in the lounge (each Precinct had a lounge/dorm, this stems from when the NYPD used to work 24 shifts, you worked for eight, then on reserve for eight, and then eight to sleep. Now it was used for breaks during work, sleepovers if you had court or a detail the next day, or if you were going through a divorce and had nowhere else to stay. Some guys lived at the Precinct for years, even getting their mail there!)

About 0850 myself and everyone else in the lounge wake up to one of the Day tour Cops coming in and turning on the TV saying a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Sure enough, as the TV is turned on, we see that the North Tower is on fire..... the strange thing was there wasn't a cloud in the sky...

Now everyone who had court that day, the SNEU guys (Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit) and my other friend Mike, run into the locker room and start getting bagged-up (putting on our uniforms). Now in the NYPD were are used to mobilizations for various things, usually we train for riots etc. so we call it "hats & bats" (riot helmet and wooden nightstick). So as I am getting dressed grabbing my helmet, I have a big decision to make....at least a big NYPD decision... do I also take my uniform eight point hat (eight points for the "original eight" night watchmen of New Amsterdam) and do I take my memo book (basically a lined and numbered pad where you had to track everything you did or were doing each and every day, including when you were off, RDO= Regular Day Off, or on vacation, or out sick). Well the NYPD hierarchy didn't like if you were without EITHER... but I finally mad a command decision that both would stay in my locker.

I ran upstairs to jump in the van going down.....
 
2. And So It Begins

So getting to work at 0400, I went about setting up the machines and various polling places and made sure that the Cops (mostly new or flown in from other commands) knew what they had to do. Came back to the Precinct and helped to do roll call for the election detail with my friend (old time Detective) Mike who was running it (Way back when the day to day operations of a Precinct mostly depended on veteran Police Officers and Detectives, though there was a chain of command, these guys/gals really ran The Job. Almost like RSMs). Around 0700 or thereabouts, my work done for now (polls opened at 0600) and not being needed again to probably 0900 I went to take a nap in the lounge (each Precinct had a lounge/dorm, this stems from when the NYPD used to work 24 shifts, you worked for eight, then on reserve for eight, and then eight to sleep. Now it was used for breaks during work, sleepovers if you had court or a detail the next day, or if you were going through a divorce and had nowhere else to stay. Some guys lived at the Precinct for years, even getting their mail there!)

About 0850 myself and everyone else in the lounge wake up to one of the Day tour Cops coming in and turning on the TV saying a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Sure enough, as the TV is turned on, we see that the North Tower is on fire..... the strange thing was there wasn't a cloud in the sky...

Now everyone who had court that day, the SNEU guys (Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit) and my other friend Mike, run into the locker room and start getting bagged-up (putting on our uniforms). Now in the NYPD were are used to mobilizations for various things, usually we train for riots etc. so we call it "hats & bats" (riot helmet and wooden nightstick). So as I am getting dressed grabbing my helmet, I have a big decision to make....at least a big NYPD decision... do I also take my uniform eight point hat (eight points for the "original eight" night watchmen of New Amsterdam) and do I take my memo book (basically a lined and numbered pad where you had to track everything you did or were doing each and every day, including when you were off, RDO= Regular Day Off, or on vacation, or out sick). Well the NYPD hierarchy didn't like if you were without EITHER... but I finally mad a command decision that both would stay in my locker.

I ran upstairs to jump in the van going down.....

Please stop now.
 
Please stop now.

It’s not for you to moderate. If there’s an issue report it and leave it to the moderators of the site.

If you don’t like it, simply don’t read it.

I think it’s interesting and poignant.
 

LD17

MIA
3. Going Down

So now I am in the van (Marked NYPD Ford Passenger Van) with my friend Mike, and the SNEU team. Ned the Sergeant and DC, JW, Fish, Raj, & CJ (before the widespread use of cellphones Cops had Radio names, so we could communicate on our portable radios without the powers that be knowing who we were referring to. So to say on Division Radio, "Fish, go up" meant for the Cop with the radio name Fish to go to Channel 9, which wasn't recorded. We also used initials.) We head to the West Side Highway and drive south, as we are chatting Fish mentions that a Army B-25 bomber had crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945, but that it had been foggy out that day and today it was bright and clear without a cloud in the sky. As we are heading down the second plane crashes into the South Tower, now we know its not an accident.

Now in the NYPD, when you are mobilized, they give you a mobilization point. So we are told over the radio to head to the Tip of City Hall (Broadway &Park Row) which is a couple of blocks away. As we get closer fighting through traffic and seemingly hundreds of ambulances (NYPD calls then Busses, both transport bodies) and Fire Engines, and it appears to be almost snowing out.... it was in reality ash from the fires and hundreds of pieces of papers from the Towers. We get to the Tip, and no one is there from the NYPD but us... So now the radio squaks with a new mobilization point, Pathmark (think Tesco) parking lot which was on the East Side of Manhattan on the East River. We get there and the same thing, its a ghost town except for us. So we make the command decision, lets just drive right up to the Towers and go in, so we head West again.....
 
@LD17, please carry on. This promises to be a good read.
 

LD17

MIA
4. Going In, well almost

So after the 1993 WTC Bombing, the NYPD's answer to preventing a future attack was to periodically post hundreds of Cops around the WTC area as a deterrent. So all of us had worked in or around the WTC in our career and knew the ins and outs of the area. So we decided to go down one of the side streets, West Broadway which ended at the WTC and then there were stairs to get up from the street level to the mezzanine/plaza area between the two Towers. We parked our van and got out with the intention of just getting into the Towers and making ourselves useful somewhere. All of a sudden an older guy, some Federal Agent as he had a Raid Jacket on (thin nylon jacket imprinted with the initials of the agency you were part of in huge letters for identification) cam running at us with his arms over his head waving us away yelling "Get the **** out of here another plane is coming in!!"... well we didn't need further encouragement, DC jumped into the drivers seat and we more or less jumped into the van, IIRC some of us were just hanging on as we didn't even close the doors. DC then expertly navigated the van, open doors and all, and unheard of speeds in REVERSE through traffic.

We finally came to a stop three or four blocks north, we exited and then got caught up in the NYPD response...

Now what I mean is, like the Army, the NYPD relies on its institutional knowledge to handle situations, even though that may not apply for the given situation. So now having hundreds upon hundreds of Cops mobilized, well it was time to line them up, count them and then divide them up into rosters of one Sergeant and eight Police Officers/Detectives each. So imagine if you will, literally a couple of hundred Cops lining up into formation a block away from two burning Towers (Barclay Street just east of Church Street). Now my friend Mike and I are chatting as we are forming up, that's until our Sergeant Ned and some random Captain come up to us. Apparently the Captain needed two Cops to check on a report of part of one of the planes being on the roof of a nearby building, if it was there it was evidence and needed to be secured. Ned had a reluctant look on his face but with the Captain right behind him, he asked if we (Mike and I) would mind going to check it out (he also whispered "And Come right back!"). So Mike and I went our merry way to the building in question.
 

LD17

MIA
5. Nowhere to Go

So Mike and I walk over to 45 Park Place, a block away, as we enter there are seemingly dozens of Federal Agents inside, all wearing Raid Jackets with the initials of their organization. We pay no attention and just ask were the stairs are. One agent asks why, we relate to him that we have to check the roof etc. So he says the elevator is right there.... Well before I go any further Mike was one of those people who you either loved or hated. He was a former Commissioned Officer in the Army, resigned it went to Para training, joined the National Guard, served in the First Gulf War (and BTW still serving in the Army Reserve). Now people hated him because Mike had no filter, just told it like it was in his NY accent. ... So when the Fed showed us to the elevator Mike's answer was "Yeah guy, planes are flying into buildings and you want us to get into a metal box suspended by a tiny cord of wire? Yeah no thanks where are the stairs?"

So we begin walking up 20 plus flights of stairs. Now back in 2001, the NYPD had more Cops than portable radios so you had to sign one out when you went on Patrol, I had grabbed one since I came in early, Mike didn't have one. As we were walking up the stairs I kept cupping my radio to hear, people were giving reports of men with AKs and RPGs on rooftops firing at the Towers, people jumping from the Towers, complete pandemonium but at that moment anything was possible, so I yelled at Mike who was ahead of me to take his gun out of his holster, he asked why and I relayed that there may be people on the roof with AKs or RPGs....his response was to take his .38 revolver out and mutter "oh shit".

With both our weapons drawn we flung the roof door open and proceeded to clear (as best we could) the roof. The way the roof was situated, when you came out the roof door straight in front of you by a couple of feet was the ledge which faced West Broadway and Murray Street. To our left was pipes feeding the HVAC system and to our right the roof was open. So in order to get to the side where we could now see pieces of the plane and landing gear we had walk that way. Before we did we looked up at the South Tower which though four blocks away, seemed to tower right over us. As the wind blew the smoke we could see right through the South Tower.

Now at this time there was no thought in our heads that these Towers would fall, we stood there and commented on how they would have to get ladders or ropes to the upper floors (playing junior structural engineers) and commented (in typical Cop dark humor) on all the people we could see on their rooftops on their cordless home phones. Finally I said "Mike lets just check on these plane parts and get out of here", he agreed and we turned to walk to the other side of the roof it forced us to look north onto West Broadway.....I paused for a second because I noticed people in the street running. I said "Mike why are people running?" We both then turned and looked up, at that moment the South Tower appeared to lean in our direction...

I tried to pull Mike into the stairwell, he just pulled me down to the deck. Now this is when people ask me if I was scared, I wasn't... not out of bravery or anything but in my mind I couldn't jump off the building and run, and we could never get down those stairs fast enough, well I guess it was a done deal, I was dead and there wasn't anything I could do about it and at that moment I was fine. Our amateur structural engineer training (ie none) didn't prepare us for the Tower going more or less straight down, we had seen it lean ... toward us... so it was coming our way. So on the deck I put my head down and both hands on the back of my neck. The sound, like being next to a freight train at speed, seemed to last for a minute or more, and then here was silence. Mike asked if I was alright and I asked if he was (both of us covered with paper and ash), in response to his affirmative I injected some dark humor again "Mike do you still think we should check out the other side of the roof?" Mike's response was "lets get the **** out of here!"
 
Last edited:

LD17

MIA
6. A New World Part 1

So Mike and I literally make it down the 20 flights of stairs in record time, we actually are just grabbing onto the bannisters with both hands and throwing ourselves down full flights. We get outside, dust and ash are everywhere as we walk south on Church Street. Firemen's helmets, blazers, body parts break up the inches of dust/ash that settled on everything. We head back to the spot we formed up at earlier to find the guys we came down with, no one is there. Now like I said earlier I was the only one that had a radio so as we were standing on the corner a female's voice came over, not panicked but definitely with concern in her voice (though I can never be 100% sure, I believe it was Moira Smith from the 13th Precinct) asking for a 10-13 (Officer needs assistance radio code) She related she appeared to be stuck/trapped with other people but she couldn't see where she was. People were asking her for a landmark or anything that they could pinpoint where she was, again not panicked but her voice became frustrated as she said that she couldn't give a landmark or anything else because she couldn't see where she was, and that she was at the WTC and had other people with her. I started to move in the direction of the Towers but Mike grabbed me and said, "we don't know where she is and we have to find our guys first"....that's the last I heard from her. As we started walking we quickly realized our best course of action was to head west to the Hudson River and hope that the wind would blow the smoke away as we were walking through thick clouds of dust. Mike all of a sudden said to pick up a abandoned blazer, I did and we ripped it up to cover our faces. He also mentioned to look for dead birds, I quickly realized why...again at that point we didn't know if these were passenger planes or specially modified planes and with all the dust we started to worry if there could have been some chemical gas on the planes too...with something else to worry about now we continued to walk west. We eventually came out of the cloud and found a restaurant with white table clothes. We ripped these off (and yes we both tried to do the trick of pulling them off without disturbing the plates, glasses, silverware...we failed!) and made new masks for our faces.

We now found ourselves at the corner of Greenwich Street and Chambers Street where there is a school, now on election days all schools are usually closed (that's were we set up the election machines) but it looked like this school had some sort of day care for the day. There were dozens of parents with strollers frantically trying to get their kids. We joined the group of Cops, Paramedics, Firemen and Day Care workers as we literally started grabbing kids and throwing them to the parents that claimed them with the retort to get out of here and go north.

Doing that in seeming record time we continued to look for our guys we came with, at this point people and vehicles were still streaming North from the first collapse, people covered in debris. We started flagging down any car we saw and putting the shocked and injured people in them with orders to take them north to St. Vincent's Medical Center (at the time the nearest Hospital on the West Side of Manhattan). As we were doing this some, IIRC, CNN reporter attempted to go south. Mike stopped him and told him to head north, his response was that "the story is south" Mikes reply was to grab him by his collar and belt and throw him north saying "I don't care where you want to go, YOU are going north!"

We were still on Greenwich Street when the North Tower collapsed, as the cloud started rolling toward us we, along with some firemen grabbed the parents and children that seemed to still be around us and shoved them all into a deli, which had a basement, you had to pull open a hatch on the floor to go down. Well we got everyone down as the cloud went by. Now as we waited Mike noticed that among the Firemen and parents and children there was one guy who was wearing an FBI raid jacket. So Mike says "Are you FBI?", when he answers in the affirmative Mike just says "Well you guys really dropped the f***in ball on this one didn't you?"
 
Fascinating first hand account.
 
There is some more, just taking a break, stay tuned.

Take your time. It’s emotional reading it, so I can’t begin to imagine what it’s doing to you.
 

Latest Threads

Top