April 30, 2002, The Washington Post, A Heart's Ground Zero; His Two Sons Died on Sept. 11. And Still, John Vigiano Keeps Vigil, by Lynne Duke,
John Vigiano squints through his binoculars on a sweaty mid-April day. He's standing at the edge of a 70-foot-deep crater, the footprint of the World Trade Center, and watching the tedious work down below. He's got a fire department radio clipped to his jeans. He wants to hear when a discovery is made by the men and women in hard hats and respirators who are combing through the last mountain of terrorism's rubble, piled six stories high inside the crater. With their small shovels and rakes and hoes, they search gingerly for bones, bodies, shoes, pieces of clothing -- any sign of the lives lost. Vigiano still is hoping that they'll find something for him, though he knows the chances now are slim.
Since Sept. 11, he has come here -- every day at first, now only two or three times a week. For the ride in from Long Island, he piles in the car with a group of old pals -- Frank Montuori, Paul Carosotto, Tony Bruno, Joe Curry -- all retired firefighters like him. Vigiano, 63, has known these guys for 20, 30 years. They surround him and keep him sane. With old firehouse jokes, they try to keep him laughing, to somehow ease the withering sorrow that brings Vigiano to this place.
Here, Vigiano watches and waits. He prays and he hopes. He cries sometimes, too, but always stands tall. He comes here for his boys, John and Joey. On Sept. 11, he lost them both, his only children.
Vigiano stood here in October when Storm, a search and rescue dog, found Joseph Vincent Vigiano, 34, a New York City police officer, deep in the rubble. Vigiano fought back tears that day as cops and firefighters formed an honor guard through the city for the ambulance and police motorcade that took Joey to the morgue.
And Vigiano still is waiting at ground zero for his namesake to be found -- John Thomas Vigiano II, 36, the New York City firefighter.
Early on, Vigiano could look out over the 16-acre site of twisted steel and pulverized concrete and know that John's body was out there somewhere. But the rubble has stubbornly, selfishly refused to surrender his remains. More than 1.5 million tons have already been sorted, sifted and removed. Only a few hundred thousand tons are left. And within a few weeks, that will be gone, too.
Not even able to have his son's body -- it is the final insult.
A fair-haired man with a blunt yet gracious manner, Vigiano is trying to come to grips with this. And trying to help his family through it, too. While the rest of the city, and the nation, seem to have moved on, hundreds of families like the Vigianos can't even claim the solace of burying their loved ones. Of the 2,823 people killed at the Trade Center, only a third have been found and identified. And fewer than 300 of those were found as whole bodies. That's how devastating the terror strikes were. They killed. They shredded. They incinerated.
For all these months, the Vigianos, devout Catholics, have delayed holding any kind of service. They waited, expecting that something of John would be found to fill a coffin. But earlier this month, Vigiano took John's widow, Maria, down to the site. He wanted her to see for herself how little rubble remained.
The family has set May 23 for a memorial service; technically, without a body, it can't be called a funeral. And without a body, the loss is more haunting for its lack of evidence.
"I just feel so empty," Vigiano says at his home after the memorial plans were finalized. "But on the positive side, we've got another month." Another month in which John's remains still could be found.
It is a long shot, and he knows it. That is why his eyes well up and his voice breaks as he whispers, "I'm gonna hold out."
Then he just weeps. Jan, his wife of 40 years, sits across the room and cries softly, too.
They are weary, worn down.
People come by, call, talk to them about strength and peace and healing. But they are just words, meaningless. Jan, a woman of 61 with curly bright blond hair, hates to hear one word in particular: "closure."
There is no such thing for a mother who loses a child, she says.
"You know what closure is? When they bury me. Then I'll forget."
And don't tell Vigiano that he is strong. People like to tell him that his strength inspires the workers still digging at the site.
Before Sept. 11, you bet Vigiano thought himself strong. He's a former Marine, a cancer survivor and a highly decorated fire captain who saved many lives during his 36-year career. He twice defied the reading of the last rites when smoke filled his lungs and doctors thought him a goner. But all those notions of strength mean nothing now.
"I'm not strong. I don't know what strong means," he says, wiping his cheeks. "Strong means you can pick up heavy weights. Emotionally? I fold like a cheap suit, sometimes at the drop of a hat. I draw my strength from her. She draws it from me. Do we try to keep a strong face? Yeah. . . . Police officers, firefighters, politicians come to me saying, 'You're an inspiration.' What kind of inspiration am I? I'm just a father that's hurtin'."
Ruddy-cheeked and stout, with heavy boots, long-handled garden hoe and a pickax swinging from the hip, Bill Butler, 62, arrives to join the day's vigil. There are handshakes and hugs between Vigiano and Butler, later joined by Dennis O'Berg and Lee Ielpi. They are all part of the sad fraternity of firefighters who lost their firefighting sons. Of the 343 people the FDNY lost, several were second-, even third-generation firefighters.
Vigiano and these other fathers are fixtures at ground zero. They talk quietly among themselves, checking on each other's families -- the daughters-in-laws, the grandkids. They congregate near the crater, at the south end of the terror site, along what is left of Liberty Street, at a wooden shack that is the command post for searchers from the fire department.
That's what it's like down here: temporary shacks and trailers for the city, state and federal agencies involved, all the workers who blend into one massive effort to bring out as many dead as possible and then clear the site. At its height, the operation had more than 3,000 searchers. Now it's dwindled to about 700. There are still cranes and grapplers and trucks, just fewer than before.
For the fathers, some coming here to search, others to wait, is like walking a spiritual bridge -- between the halcyon days when their boys were alive and these painful, menacing days since their deaths. For them, indeed for all the survivors of those who perished here, this is hallowed ground.
They are drawn to this place. They feel better, in an odd way, when they're here. "I feel like this is my place to be," says Butler. He misses it when he is away.
Butler fought fires for 32 years. He retired as a captain in 1994. His son Thomas joined the fire department in 1989. He ended up out here, somewhere in the rubble. So the father comes to search. He has suspended his plans, along with his wife, to join the snowbirds down in Florida. They're selling their retirement condo there. Now, all attention focuses on the grandchildren.
Since Sept. 11, Butler says, "I've had a knot in the bottom of my stomach. It's still here. It hurts." But he still has Steve, his other son, a police officer.
Butler has found lots of bodies, and parts of bodies, at the site. And with each discovery, he is thinking of Tom. "I'm thinking: 'Is this him? Do I want to see him like this?' It's a horrible situation."
Dennis O'Berg arrives with a small shovel in hand and a battered black fireman's hat on his head. He lost a son, too: Dennis Patrick O'Berg. Father and son were both on duty on Sept. 11. Only the father survived. O'Berg retired immediately. He remembers very little of what happened that heinous day.
Lee Ielpi pops in with news for Vigiano and the others on memorial services and progress in identifying remains and to offer moral support. He doesn't have to wait anymore. He doesn't have to wonder. His son, Jonathan Lee Ielpi, was pulled from the rubble in December. At least this one father is no longer in limbo. Jonathan loved life, loved being a firefighter. That's what Ielpi is saying when he suddenly starts to cry. It is uncomfortable to watch, but he shrugs away any apologies. "I cry every day," he says.
But he is thankful for what Sept. 11 left untouched. His other firefighting son, Brendan, happened to be off duty that day. He was not among the first-responding units that took such heavy tolls. "Thank God," Ielpi says. "I could have become another John Vigiano."
There is no way to divvy up grief, to say the grief over the death of one son is quantitatively less than the grief over two. Grief is too personal, too individually tailored, to quantify that way. But John and Jan Vigiano hold a sad distinction among the firefighting and police families in having lost all of their children Sept. 11.
Out in the Suffolk County, N.Y., community of Deer Park, a suburban neighborhood of split-levels, scout troops and lawns fronted by flapping American flags, the Vigiano home is filled with gifts. There are knitted quilts and teddy bears sent by strangers. There are buttons, plaques, photos, paintings, plants, poems, place mats, statuettes, even the kind of MIA bracelets so many people wore during the Vietnam War. Missing in action: that pretty much describes John, says Vigiano. Someone even sent a plaque showing that two stars had been named for the Vigiano sons. So much has poured in that a credenza in the dining room has become a shrine to John and Joey.
The outpouring has been tremendous. It still is. Jan hasn't cooked in months; friends and neighbors bring over meals. The phone rings every 10 minutes. There are meetings on the needs of surviving families, on memorial plans, on fundraising. It is all overwhelming.
A teacher's assistant for special-education students, Jan stopped working on Sept. 11. Along with John, who retired from the fire department in 1998, she has had no choice but to accept that her life has become centered on death. She goes to ground zero only on Sundays, simply to pray. With the exception of the time she spends babysitting the grandchildren, who are her only source of joy, each day is like a wake.
Instead of spending the usual three or four days receiving condolences, the Vigianos have spent more than seven months going through the public rituals of grief. Of the callers and drop-in visitors and people who want to help or cook or drive, John says, "You can't say no. You can't be rude. You have to respect them. But we look forward to 11 o'clock at night. The phone doesn't ring." At least he can go through his sleepless nights uninterrupted.
It's not that they don't want support; they desperately do, says Jan. "It's just that it's seven months of this, just to let people know what we're going through."
And there are seven others going through it, too. Think of the two daughters-in-law and the five grandchildren. Decisions had to be made on funerals and on things like taking personal effects of the deceased -- combs, toothbrushes -- to the medical examiner's office for DNA testing against remains found at the Trade Center. There were household issues of all kinds, and the matter of how to ease the grandchildren through the crisis. One of John's girls cries when she sees other children with their fathers, Jan says; the other girl, a toddler, believes John still talks to her. As for Maria, their mother, she prefers not to speak to the media.
Vigiano wants very much to be the strong guy who somehow makes it all better. But he can't. No one can. And that is a huge part of John Vigiano's anger and frustration. So it is understandable that he has blown a gasket.
It happened in January. He'd had enough of the fire department bureaucracy, enough of the slights he perceived from brass who should have been more sensitive, enough of being kept out of the fire department's loop on information about his dead sons, because parents, unlike spouses, are not considered next of kin. The final straw, the thing that really got him, was when someone asked if he planned to wear his dress uniform to John's funeral. His son's funeral. Just the thought of it enraged him. Parents aren't supposed to see their children die.
He remembers grabbing his formal Fire Department of New York uniform, a navy-blue affair with its seven rows of medals on the chest, and cramming it into a trash bag and throwing it near the garbage cans in the garage.
Jan was furious with her husband. The real heart and soul of the fire department wasn't the brass, she told him, but the ordinary firefighters out there digging in the rubble each day.
"Her wisdom opened my eyes," John says.
Jan retrieved the uniform and had it cleaned and pressed.
Vigiano's father was a firefighter, which is why he became one, which is why John II became one. Three generations in the FDNY. That's how it goes. Though some outsiders don't like this form of nepotism, it is why the New York City fire department is such a tightknit, even closed, culture -- heavily Irish and Italian, staunchly Catholic, very much a brotherhood.
Unlike John, Joey became a cop, and a swashbuckling cop at that -- shot three times and lived to tell it. He was a member of an elite emergency services unit.
Just two years apart, the brothers were close. Each had a young family, and each was involved with his children's activities. John and Maria, a teacher, had two girls, Nicolette, 6, and Ariane, 2 1/ 2. Joseph and his wife, Kathy, a police officer like him, had three boys: Joseph, 9, James, 7, and John, 10 months. The entire family had been together on Sept. 1 for baby John's christening.
John's disappearance defied logic. His father couldn't figure it out. How could the six men of Ladder Company 132 (not to mention much of Ladder 105 and 101, also from Brooklyn) simply vanish?
As the months dragged on, Vigiano became increasingly desperate. He started his own investigation. He interviewed as many firefighters as he could find who had been at the towers. He combed media reports. He gathered official fire department information, such as the times of key radio transmissions (those that got through) and command orders. He racked his brain, conjuring what he would have done in John's situation.
He retraced John's steps. The fire department itself wasn't doing such a reconstruction. So much chaos ensued on Sept. 11 -- with the rush of so many firefighters, on and off duty, the loss of radio contact, and the towers' collapse -- that the department still does not know who was deployed where and when.
What Vigiano found is this: The ladder truck from 132, with six men on board, roared out of its station in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, just after the first plane struck the North Tower. It arrived on the scene at 9:03 a.m., just before a second plane struck the South Tower. There is very little indication from radio traffic records just what Ladder 132 did on arrival or precisely where it was, says Vigiano. He found only sketchy radio communications.
At 9:22, Ladder 132 requested instructions. He's not sure if they got any response. Then at 9:46, a Fire Chief Peter Ganci (who would die a short time later) issued a call for ladder companies to go to the South Tower. The trail of evidence suggests Ladder 132 may have heard that call and responded. A surviving firefighter told Vigiano he'd seen firefighters from Ladders 132, 105 and 101 moving through the lobby of the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel, next to the South Tower.
But at 9:55, the South Tower collapsed, followed a half-hour later by the North Tower. And John and his brothers from Ladder 132 disappeared without a trace. Their truck was found crushed beneath a collapsed pedestrian bridge that crossed West Street near the North Tower, apparently where they'd parked it. Their thermal imaging camera, used to detect body heat when visibility is poor, was found a bit farther south on West Street, near the Marriott. And that is all. Nothing else of Ladder 132 has surfaced.
In the terrible inferno of the planes crashing into the towers and the fiery collapse of the buildings, Vigiano says, "there's a possibility a lot of these people were cremated." But he doesn't know. He may never know.
So he stands vigil there at the crater, squinting through binoculars. He's wearing a black polo shirt that says "In the eye of the storm." It's the motto of Ladder 132.
Paul Carosotto, a dead ringer for Bill Clinton, playfully slathers a wad of sunblock on Vigiano's sunburned arm. Tony Bruno, today's driver for the group, carries a camera on his shoulder, looking for shots. Frank Montuori makes a running comic commentary on everything and nothing, just to keep some levity in the air. These guys gave Montuori the nickname "Crazy" a long time ago. "You have to be," Crazy says. "There's enough sorrow here."
On the fire department radio that Vigiano wears on his hip, a voice says the letters "GPS." Someone on the pile is calling for a special fire department team with global positioning system devices to map the precise location of human remains and possessions at the site. "GPS" means something has been found. It happens all the time. This time, it is a bone.
A little while later, Mike Leddy, a burly, red-faced retired firefighter who digs at the site, strides over bearing a gift. It's a satiny drawstring bag containing a shard of plate glass an inch thick and about eight inches long that he found at the site. On it, he's etched the twin towers and the names John and Joey.
"Labor of love, John," is all Leddy says as he hands the bag to Vigiano, then lumbers away.
Vigiano has known Leddy only a few months, met him right here at the site.
"What do you say to these people?" Vigiano asks, the kindness overwhelming him.
By 1 p.m., Vigiano and company have been here six hours. Without any progress, it has become just the latest in the long march of days since Sept. 11 that have whittled away his hopes. He decides to head home. As he and his comrades gather up their hard hats and bags, Vigiano looks pensive and drawn.
There is no hope on his face.
He turns to walk away from the crater and says, "I just want it to be over."
May 2, 2003 , The Columbian (Vancouver, WA), Scholarship granted in name of New York heroes, by Dean Baker,
Their two sons died as heroes in the 9/11 Twin Towers attack, but John and Jan Vigiano are keeping their legacy alive in Vancouver today.
The Vigianos will talk about the day their sons, a New York City firefighter and a policeman, died when the airplanes struck the World Trade Center towers.
They'll also present a $2,000 scholarship in their sons' names to Prairie High School senior Nathan Clark, 18. The son of Ken and Coleen Clark of Ridgefield plans to study engineering at Cedarville (Ohio) University.
"Actually, we've seen more good come from Sept. 11 than bad," the retired New York City fire captain said Thursday while relaxing over a cup of coffee in Portland.
The couple have been able to present scholarships raised by several organizations and named after their sons: John Vigiano Jr., 36, a firefighter, and Joseph Vigiano, 34, a police detective.
The brothers ran back into the World Trade Center after the attack and died attempting to rescue victims.
"Now here we are in Oregon to give a scholarship to a young man who is going to be given a chance at an education, and he'll note the names on the scholarship and their names will be perpetuated; he'll get the thing that I value the most, which is education," said Vigiano.
These funds were raised through the Portland-based Honor Thy Children Foundation. It is the brainchild of Nancy Dorr, who has organized several Support the Troops rallies in Vancouver, Portland and Salem.
It was Dorr's persistence over many months that brought the Vigianos to town.
"She was so nice, and she kept asking so often that finally we felt guilty turning her down," said John Vigiano, 64. "We're just two Americans. We're not celebrities. But we said to each other, 'We can't just keep saying no to her.'"
Many reporters across the nation have told the Vigiano story. An Academy Award-winning 34-minute documentary, "Twin Towers," by Bill Guttentag and Robert David Port, was built around the story. It's likely to be seen on television in the future, Vigiano said.
The brothers were themselves described as "Twin Towers" by New York First District Fire Commissioner Joseph Dunne.
Joe Vigiano was a hero even before 9/11. He had been wounded twice by gunfire in the line of duty.
Both the Vigiano sons were veterans John a firefighter for 14 years, Joe a police officer for 10. Both knew the risks when they charged into the buildings, said their father, himself a veteran of 36 years as a New York City firefighter.
"It isn't a job," he said. "It's a way of life, and it's what you do."
Himself legendary in New York firefighting circles, John the elder was twice given last rites after firefighting mishaps, and he survived a 1984 fight with throat cancer.
"I lived the life," he said, modestly.
John Sr. wears the ring of his father, also a New York City firefighter. And he said he plans to pass the ring on to Joe's son, Joseph, now 10 years old.
Both the Vigiano sons were married. Joseph and his wife, Kathy, who is also a police officer, have two other boys: James, 8, and John, 2. John and his wife, Colette, had two girls: Colette, 7, and Ariana, 2.
The 9/11 tragedy will never be resolved for them, the Vigianos said. Their eyes filled with tears several times during the conversation.
"On Sept. 11, until the day we die, we'll be in New York," said Vigiano. "Not in the city, but at the cemetery with the boys. That's a given."
What: John and Joe Vigiano Memorial Scholarship presented at a "Support the Troops" Rally
When: 7 to 9 p.m. today
Where: Building 721, Vancouver Barracks
Sponsor: Portland-based Honor Thy Children Foundation
ON THE WEB: www.honorthychildren.us
WAR ON TERROR: SINISTER MESSAGE: It was the darkest day in US history but also the greatest rescue mission we've ever had.(News)
The Mirror (London, England); November 7, 2001; 700+ words ...Editor ANDY LINES with NewYork police chief Bernard Kerik...standing alongside JosephVigiano, one of 23 NYPD officers...most dangerous job in theNew York police department. "He...explode; GRIEF: With Vigianophotograph
Queen's hero cop badge.(News)
Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland); November 15, 2001; 282 words ...with the badge of a NewYork police officer killed...Detective Joseph Vigiano, is a token of...Dwyer said: "The New York Police Commissioner asked DetectiveVigiano's family and they...Queen said Detective Vigiano was an incredible...plane to crash in NewYork." ...
War on Terror: WTC shield for Queen.
The Birmingham Post (England); November 15, 2001; 450 words ...belonged to Detective Joseph Vigiano, was given as a token...the current crisis. New Yorkpolice Lieutenant Frank...Goodenough College. DetVigiano, who had survived being...The Queen said Det Vigianowas an incredible individual...another plane to crash in New York,' he said. ...
MICK TITLE-LESS AND ANGRY.(NEWS)
The Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, OH); November 16, 2001; 348 words ...of the British people, a New YorkCity police officer presented...belonged to Detective Joseph Vigiano, who was killed alongside...terrorist attacks. ''TheNew York police commissioner asked Detective Vigiano's family, and they were...
Ground Zero flag going to Marines: ; Flag filled with messages of hurt, hope and revenge
Charleston Daily Mail; November 27, 2001; THE ASSOCIATED PRESS; 540 words NEW YORK - Scrawled with messages of...a Marine Corps spokesman in NewYork, said he believes the troops...my sons ... Joe and JohnVigiano. They gave their lives doing...contain the names of the 23New York police officers lost in the..
TROOPS TO RECEIVE GROUND ZERO FLAG.(NEWS)
The Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, OH); November 27, 2001; 670 words ...Byline: Associated Press NEWYORK -- Scrawled with messages...Marine Corps spokesman in New York, said he believes the...sons ... Joe and JohnVigiano. They gave their lives...contain the names of the 23New York police officers lost in...
Ceremony honors fallen N.Y. officers: ; Survivors accept medals on behalf of 23 victims
Charleston Daily Mail; December 5, 2001; THE ASSOCIATED PRESS; 432 words NEW YORK - Two-year-old Patricia...young to fully understand. The New York Police Department's highest...honored Smith and the 22 other New Yorkpolice officers who died in...colleagues. Detective JosephVigiano, 34, and his firefighter...
DONATIONS FLOWING TO BEREAVED IN N.Y. CITY
The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY); December 14, 2001; T.J. PIGNATARO; 669 words ...is 10 years removed from New York City, the tragedy hit...s wedding party was aNew York firefighter killed Sept...Jr. and Matthew Ryan, New York Fire Department battalion...with Firefighters John Vigiano II, Andrew Jordan, Thomas.
French filmmakers' Sept. 11 tape shows firefighter response from inside Tower 1
AP Worldstream; February 18, 2002; STEPHANIE GASKELL, Associated Press Writer; 700+ words 00-00-0000 Dateline: NEW YORKThe firefighters' movements are calm...their last. It has made the rounds of New York firehouses since Sept. 11 and was...was very apprehensive," said John Vigiano, a retired firefighter whose sons.
THE TERRORIST ATTACKSSIX MONTHS LATER: Firefighters praise Sept. 11 documentary; Show called accurate, sensitive account of events
Charleston Daily Mail; March 11, 2002; THE ASSOCIATED PRESS; 700+ words NEW YORK - Firefighters who watched...said retired firefighter John Vigiano, who lost both his sons in...fearful face on any of them." Vigiano said while he watched the...for any sign of his son Joe Vigiano, a police officer last seen.
Firefighters call 9/11 documentary accurate; 'Captures a true feeling': CBS executive says timing was right to remember the pain
Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque); March 12, 2002; ASSOCIATED PRESS; 645 words NEW YORK (AP) - Firefighters who...said retired firefighter JohnVigiano, who lost both his sons in...not knowing what to do." Vigianosaid while he watched the...for any sign of his son Joe Vigiano, a police officer last seen.
Profile: Workers continue recovery and cleaning up at ground zero
NPR Morning Edition; March 29, 2002; BOB EDWARDS; 700+ words ...mission soon will be over. FromNew York, NPR's Melissa Block reports...sift through rubble. JohnVigiano is a retired firefighter...found in October. Mr. JOHN VIGIANO(Retired Firefighter): In...Storm. BLOCK: Storm? Mr. VIGIANO: Yeah, the handler gave me..
The Reliable Source
The Washington Post; May 24, 2002; Lloyd Grove Washington Post Staff Writer; 700+ words ...acknowledged with a laugh. For Sunday's 8 p.m. concert, he'll read from the letter of retired New YorkCity firefighter John Vigiano, who lost two sons in the terrorist attacks. "Everybody's still a little nervous. We got a real..
MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT; 9/11 Heroes Join Roll Of Holiday Honorees
The Washington Post; May 26, 2002; Patricia Brennan Washington Post Staff Writer; 700+ words ...the story of retired New York firefighter John Vigiano, who lost two sons...Palmer, Battalion 7, New YorkFire Department. Dana...Bataan Death March. Vigiano, Palmer and Tenney...who worked as a New Yorkfireman for four years..
MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT; 9/11 Heroes Join Roll Of Holiday Honorees
The Washington Post; May 26, 2002; Patricia Brennan Washington Post Staff Writer; 700+ words ...the story of retired New York firefighter John Vigiano, who lost two sons...Palmer, Battalion 7, New YorkFire Department. Dana...Bataan Death March. Vigiano, Palmer and Tenney...who worked as a New Yorkfireman for four years..
A Memorial Day Concert With Special Echoes
The Washington Post; May 27, 2002; Joseph McLellan; 700+ words ...Joe Mantegna reading a statement by retired firefighter John Vigiano, who lost two sons, a policeman and a firefighter, at the...applauded, but the most enthusiastic reception was given to New York's singing policeman, Daniel Rodriguez, who had a perfect...
Woods Finds Trouble in Final Tuneup
AP Online; June 12, 2002; PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer; 700+ words ...the Fire Department of NewYork and accepted a golf ball...dozen promotional balls the New YorkShipping Association had...families of Joseph and John Vigiano, who were both killed...of the brothers, one a New York City police officer and..
THE U.S. OPEN; NOTEBOOK; Firefighter brings WTC find.(Sports)
The Boston Herald; June 13, 2002; Gordon, Joe; 581 words ...The ball was discovered by New York City Firefighter John Caputo...leveled, Caputo telephoned John Vigiano and discovered the FDNY captain...others. Yesterday, JosephVigiano's sons, Jimmy and Joseph...with the names of the lateVigiano brothers. Flags of the fire.
WITH HEAVY HEARTS, FIREFIGHTERS SHARE OPEN STAGE
The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY); June 13, 2002; MARK GAUGHAN; 700+ words ...firefighter John Vigiano, who lost two sons...world can see thatNew York is back and better...friends with the Vigiano brothers. It was...floor office of the New YorkShipping Association...It's not easy,Vigiano said. "My grandchildren...thinking about us inNew
France honors NY firefighters for courage in Sept. 11 attacks
AP Worldstream; July 12, 2002; JOSEPH COLEMAN, Associated Press Writer; 587 words ...Retired firefighter John Vigianostood silently Friday...award on behalf of the New York Fire Department for...were heroes," saidVigiano of Deer Park, New York, showing the photographs...inside of his blue cap. Vigiano, a retired captain.
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO); July 13, 2002; 700+ words ...Retired firefighter John Vigianostood silently Friday as he...French award on behalf of the New York Fire Department for courage...They were heroes,' said Vigiano of Deer Park, N.Y., showing...the inside of his blue cap. Vigiano, a retired captain with 36..
A father's sorrow and pride. (Letters).
The Saturday Evening Post; September 1, 2002; Fitz-Patrick, Bill; 266 words ...row of the audience was Joe Vigiano, Sr., retired New York City firefighter and father...Center attack. Son Jack was aNew York Police Department detective, and his brother, Joe, was aNew York firefighter. At one very moving...
The Saturday Evening Post; September 1, 2002; Anonymous; 700+ words ...Carol A. Ehlers East Aurora, NewYork Editor's note: We forwarded...row of the audience was Joe Vigiano, Sr., retired New YorkCity firefighter and father...Center attack. Son Jack was a New YorkPolice Department detective..
TV Puts 9/11 at Center Stage: Smith's "Report" One of Many to Mark Terror Anniversary
Irish Voice; September 10, 2002; Deignan, Tom; 700+ words ...which ultimately killed 23 New Yorkcops, 37 Port Authority copsand 343New York firefighters - was unmatched...Nelson - then-governor of New York - built the Twin Towers...interview with firefighter John Vigiano - who lost two sons, John..
Heroic 9/11 spirit remembered.(News)
The Boston Herald; September 10, 2002; Gelzinis, Peter; 700+ words ...Perry said, not long after NewYork's mayor, police commissioner...Pettit left behind areNew York police officers, a third...Regards to Broadway," JohnVigiano tried in vain to elude...last year, this retired New York fire captain searched for..
Etched In Stone
The Record (Bergen County, NJ); September 10, 2002; DEVLIN BARRETT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS; 535 words ...Star P. One Star B NEW YORK The names of the 23New York Police Department officers...year-old Jimmy Vigianoneeded both hands to...with his father Joseph Vigiano's shield, cradling...long history of the NewYork PD, the worst day..
America at War -- Officers Remembered -- WTC casualties added to memorial wall
Yakima Herald-Republic; September 10, 2002; 455 words NEW YORKDAILY NEWS NEW YORK - A shroud of black bunting was pulled...will never be simply a list of names,"New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "They...this just happened again," said Jan Vigiano, who suffered an unimaginable loss Sept.
Sept. 11 -- The Year and Now -- Some Skip Remembrance -- For family of victims of WTC attack, the grief is too strong
Yakima Herald-Republic; September 11, 2002; 700+ words NEWSDAYNEW YORK - When dignitaries and survivors...morning of remembrances, John Vigiano won't be among them.He'll...don't like the place," said Vigiano, who lost sons Det. Joseph Vigiano and firefighter John Vigiano II...
'The hijacked plane ... slammed into my office'.(Special Section)
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL); September 11, 2002; 590 words ...particularly personally. New Yorkand the Pentagon were not...visited ground zero in New York. At a flag- raising ceremony...approached me wearing a New York Fire Department windbreaker...Marine Corps ball cap. John Vigiano is a retired FDNY fire.
New York Fire Department, Police Struggle with Loses
CBS Evening News with Dan Rather; September 11, 2002; Dan Rather, Jim Axelrod; 700+ words ...NICHOLAS SCOPPETTA, NEWYORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT...learning lessons, Jan Vigiano, a mother who lost two...anything positive. JAN VIGIANO, VICTIM`S MOTHER...search for meaning may be New York`s biggest challenge..
September 11 Anniversary
Getty Images; September 11, 2002; Stephen Chernin; 226 words ...Stephen Chernin Getty Images 09-11-2002 NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11: New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and reitred Captain of theNew York City Fire Department JohnVigiano light the eternal flame September 11, 2002
Honoring Those Who Died to Save Others; D.C. Ceremonies Laud Fallen U.S. Firefighters
The Washington Post; October 7, 2002; Steve Vogel; 700+ words ...boy, Joseph, was a New York City police officer...doesn't stop," said Vigiano, a retired New York fire captain. "There...January 2001. The list ofNew York firefighters lost was...course, and John T. Vigiano II's name came toward.
9/11 BROTHERS HAUNT SUNDANCE FILM.(MAIN)
Albany Times Union (Albany, NY); January 22, 2003; 700+ words ...reality-TV pilot on a New York City police squad became...Fourteen of the 23 New York City police officers...34-year-old Joe Vigiano, a highly decorated...PRESS THE LIVES OF New York City firefighter JohnVigiano Jr., left, and his.
Film venerates twin brothers killed 9/11
The Herald News - Joliet (IL); January 23, 2003; 607 words ...reality-TV pilot on a New York City police squad became...rescue.Fourteen of the 23New York City police officers killed...them 34-year-old Joe Vigiano, a highly decorated cop...Joe's brother, John Vigiano Jr., 36. After the.
FINDING THE SHORTEST ROUTE TO FILMMAKING EXCELLENCE.(Entertainment/Weekend/Spotlight)
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO); April 5, 2003; Denerstein^, Robert; 700+ words ...based division of the New York Police Department Emergency...films about Sept. 11 andNew York as I could stand. But...were 34-year-old Joe Vigiano, a policeman, and his...Their father, a retired New York City fireman, talks about..
Father of two 9/11 victims to speak
The Columbian (Vancouver, WA); April 28, 2003; The Columbian; 353 words ...VigianoMemorial Scholarship. It is named after Vigiano's sons who died: JohnVigiano Jr., of the New York Fire Department, and Joseph Vigiano, of the New York Police Department, said Nancy Dorr, who started the foundation. In Portland..
Scholarship granted in name of New York heroes
The Columbian (Vancouver, WA); May 2, 2003; DEAN BAKER, Columbian; 700+ words ...television in the future, Vigiano said. The brothers...as "Twin Towers" by NewYork First District Fire...Commissioner Joseph Dunne. Joe Vigiano was a hero even before...die, we'll be in New York," said Vigiano. "Not in the city..
TelevisionWeek; May 19, 2003; 471 words ...Dick Wolf, left, former NewYork Police Commissioner Bernard...winning documentary inNew York. The screening was for...colleagues of John and JoeVigiano, who died in the line...film Soldier Girl May 8 in New York are, from left, producer...
Project Salute seals troop-biz bond. (Guest Column).(film screenings at military bases)
Daily Variety; July 2, 2003; Byrne, Gerry; 700+ words ...attack on the World Trade Center. Christy Ferer and Ginny Bauer both lost their husbands, and John Vigiano lost his only two sons, one a New York City fireman, the other a policeman. A warm, reflecting silence filled the arena as Christy called.
Back From Iraq and Prouder Than Ever: I lost my father and my husband to war, but a visit with our soldiers proved their spirits still live on.
Newsweek; July 7, 2003; Ferer, Christy; 700+ words ...Jersey mother of three, whose husband David was killed, and John Vigiano, who lost his two sons--John Jr. was a firefighter and Joe was with an elite unit of theNew York City Police. My own husband was 46 when he died. As the newly appointed..
The Insider; 'Towers' Heroes Remembered.(TV Currents)
TelevisionWeek; October 4, 2004; Greppi, Michele; 683 words ...when he first met Mr. Block, who was a New York-based NBC PR executive for more than 20...CAPTION(S): Fallen heroes: Brothers John Vigiano, left, a NewYork firefighter and Joey Vigiano Jr. of the NYPD are featured in "Twin Towers...
MONUMENTAL COURAGE: THE NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS MEMORIAL
Italian America; April 1, 2005; W, Craig; 700+ words ...emergency service officer for the New York City Police Department, LaSala...first female commander of the NewYork/New Jersey Port Authority...on a rescue mission. So were New YorkCity Police Detective Joseph Vigiano, Inspector Anthony P. Infante.
Bush awards medals of valor to families of fallen 9/11 emergency workers.
Daily News (New York, NY); September 9, 2005; 651 words ...met in the past four years. "This was nice," said Kathy Vigiano, whose husband, Joey, a detective with NYPD Emergency Services...www.NYDailyNews.com. Copyright (c) 2005, Daily News, NewYork Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. For..
Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation Annual Gala.(delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld)(Speech)
U.S. Department of Defense Speeches; April 7, 2006; 700+ words ...Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Waldorf Astoria, New York. NY, Friday, April 7, 2006 Thank you...About a year ago I met a man named John Vigiano former fire captain with Ladder 176 here in NewYork City. He's also a former Marine. He told.
Remains Still Being Found at WTC Site
AP Online; September 8, 2006; 700+ words NEW YORK - Ralph Geidel cannot remember...human remains entombed next to New York City's trash, and are asking...memorabilia instead of bodies. The Vigiano family had to do both. Detective JosephVigiano was found, but his brother John...
Bushes Lay Wreaths to Mark 9/11 in N.Y.
AP Online; September 10, 2006; 700+ words ...Rudy Giuliani, who was New York mayor at the time of the attacks. Across New York, residents marked the...Bush in the pew was Jane Vigiano, who lost two sons in...victim George Howard, aNew York Port Authority police officer...
Bush tours sites on anniversary: One year after attacks, the president paid visit to each location, but has not done so since
Charleston Daily Mail; September 11, 2006; JENNIFER LOVEN; 700+ words ...speeches from the Pentagon and New York's Ellis Island. But...24 hours traveling fromNew York's ground zero to the...Paul's Chapel. Jane Vigiano, who lost two sons in...victim George Howard, a New York Port Authority police officer.
Bushes Lay Wreaths at Trade Center Site
AP Online; September 11, 2006; 700+ words ...speaking at the Pentagon and New York's Ellis Island. Since...each anniversary. Across New York on Sunday, residents marked...experience of the attacks. Jane Vigiano, who lost two sons in...victim George Howard, aNew York Port Authority police officer..
9/11 still fresh after 5 years - Bush: 'Day of renewing resolve' promised
The Columbian (Vancouver, WA); September 11, 2006; JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press writer; 700+ words ...speaking at the Pentagon and New York's Ellis Island. Since...Ceremonies diverse Across New York on Sunday, residents marked...experience of the attacks. Jane Vigiano, who lost two sons in...victim George Howard, aNew York Port Authority police officer.
Bush marks day grimly
Deseret News (Salt Lake City); September 11, 2006; Jennifer Loven Associated Press; 700+ words ...York Gov. George Pataki, New YorkMayor Michael Bloomberg, and Rudy Giuliani, who was New York mayor at the time of the...experience of the attacks. Jane Vigiano, who lost two sons in...victim George Howard, aNew York Port Authority police officer..
A nation still healing; Bushes lay wreaths at ground zero
Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque); September 11, 2006; ASSOCIATED PRESS; 700+ words ...Rudy Giuliani, who was NewYork mayor at the time of the attacks. Across New York, residents marked the...Bush in the pew was JaneVigiano, who lost two sons in...victim George Howard, a New York Port Authority police officer..
Many families still pray for closure; Retired firefighter man is obsessed with finding a piece of his brother
Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque); September 11, 2006; ASSOCIATED PRESS; 700+ words NEW YORK (AP) - Ralph Geidel cannot...human remains entombed next to New York City's trash, and are asking...memorabilia instead of bodies. The Vigiano family had to do both. Detective JosephVigiano was found, but his brother John..
FORMER MARINE RECALLS LOSING ONLY SONS IN SEPT. 11 ATTACKS
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; November 16, 2006; 700+ words ...Corps he became a New York City firefighter...d try it," Vigianoexplained...firefighters in New YorkCity history, Vigiano retired as a captain...of the city, Vigianocontinued...second grade in the NewYork history at 34...
Solemn Pipeband March Commemorates Fallen Officers On National Police Week
Getty Images; May 14, 2007; Chip Somodevilla; 269 words ...Size JPG (1189 KB)WASHINGTON - MAY 14:New York Police Department employee Evelyn Sekzer...Washington, DC. Sekzer made a rubbing of Joseph Vigiano's name. Vigiano and his brother, JohnVigiano, were killed when they responded to the.
Firefighter Father Recalls Losing Sons On 9/11
NPR Morning Edition; September 11, 2009; STEVE INSKEEP; 700+ words ...story of two brothers. John VigianoJr. was a New York City firefighter. His younger...retired firefighter JohnVigiano Sr. Mr. JOHN VIGIANO(Retired Firefighter...they assigned him to east New York where I started my career.
SOME 9/11 FAMILIES TO MEET OBAMA IN NYC.
States News Service; May 5, 2011; 658 words ...released by the office of New York Rep. Peter King: John...Ground Zero and talking toNew York first responders, White...Gillibrand and many otherNew York officials. Obama's visit...absent Thursday is JohnVigiano, 72, of Deer Park, who..
Crowd honors vets, military
SouthtownStar (Chicago, IL); June 6, 2011; 700+ words ...called Gold Star Families. Retired New York City fireman and survivor of the...in Iraq and then at Ground Zero in New YorkCity before making their way to Chicago...flags, Brogen read a letter from the Vigiano family, who lost their two sons...
24K visitor passes distributed for 9/11 memorial
AP Online; July 11, 2011; VERENA DOBNIK; 700+ words NEW YORK(AP) — More than 24,000 visitor passes...Victims' Families Association, is a retired New Yorkfirefighter who carried the body of his firefighter...of two friends side-by-side — John Vigiano Jr., a firefighter, and his younger brother.
Larry Wilson: Terrorist attacks and courage of convictions
Pasadena Star-News; September 10, 2011; Larry Wilson; 663 words ...architecture. I lived and worked inNew York City for most of a year and, I...what breaks your heart. Like theNew York dad interviewed the other day on the radio show "StoryCorps." John Vigiano Sr. is a retired FDNY firefighter...
September 11, 2002, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, New York Fire Department, Police Struggle with Loses, by Dan Rather, Jim Axelrod,
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: One year after the attack on America, the Fire Department of New York is still struggling to recover from its devastating losses. But even on this anniversary, even as they mourn, there is a job to be done.
And CBS`s Jim Axelrod reports, the men and women known as New York`s bravest are doing it.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM AXELROD, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What Engine Company 23 went through in one hour this morning is what the entire department has lived with for the last 12 months. Even as they prepared for their firehouse memorial...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: EMS -- 56 and 5th, pedestrian struck.
AXELROD: ... there was business to take care of. First, handling a rescue call, then rushing back to the firehouse...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten-hut.
AXELROD: ... to remember the six firefighters this company lost.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lt. Charles Garbarini, Firefighter Mark Whitman (ph) no longer with us.
AXELROD: It`s a divided life Capt. John Bendick has come to accept.
CAPT. JOHN BENDICK, NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Like anything else in your heart, it`s stuck back there. And every once in a while, you get that little trigger and you think about it, but, basically, you have to go on.
AXELROD (on camera): A year later, the Fire Department faces enormous obstacles. Collectively, the 343 killed had 4,400 years of experience. On top of that, hundreds of firefighters retired after 9/11, and hundreds more may soon have to leave, due to lung damage from working in ground zero.
DANIEL CINTRON, NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: September 11 put me in the state of mind where I was hungry to be in this position.
AXELROD (voice-over): Replacing them are rookies -- probies, they`re called -- like Danny Cintron. A year later, the department is probie heavy, hoping attitude will carry them until experience takes over.
CINTRON: It`s not a decision. You do it because that`s what you`re meant to do.
AXELROD: The probies join a department facing tough questions about communications and coordination failures that hindered rescue efforts a year ago.
CMSR. NICHOLAS SCOPPETTA, NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: We certainly have learned from 9/11. We`re not nearly where we want to be, but we are much further along than people give us credit for.
AXELROD: 9/11 changed police work as well. Today, the Port Authority remembered 37 of its officers, whose job it was to keep the Trade Centers safe. The NYPD honored 23 of its own.
And while both agencies say they, too, are learning lessons, Jan Vigiano, a mother who lost two sons -- a firefighter and a cop -- has trouble finding anything positive.
JAN VIGIANO, VICTIM`S MOTHER: Forget about normal life. There`s no such thing, and there will never be. Everything was taken away from us.
We have nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of the Father, the Son...
AXELROD: A year later, balancing that despair with the search for meaning may be New York`s biggest challenge. For firefighters like Danny Cintron, it means never concentrating fully on either.
CINTRON: If we know we are going to a fire, our demeanor is...
I got to go.
AXELROD: I got to go. Not a bad motto for the city`s firefighters and police officers, those taken a year ago today, and those still here.
Jim Axelrod, CBS News, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) END
June 12, 2002 , Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, A very special golf ball in New York, by Bill Lyon,
FARMINGDALE, N. Y. _ He was running a rake through the debris of ground zero when his eye was caught by a flash of white.
Bone, he thought. Lord knows, he'd seen enough of those.
But no. Not bone. Ball. A golf ball, shining like a pearl in that awful dark, desolation.
John Caputo, a New York City fireman, bent, picked it up, and then the golfer in him took over. On instinct, he licked a thumb and began to clean it.
"And then," he said, "I thought, `Whoa, what are you doing?' "
It felt like something close to blasphemy.
On Wednesday, Caputo presented that golf ball, survivor of 9-11, retrieved from the wreckage of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, to the United States Golf Association, for display in its museum.
It's a Titleist. With a red No. 4. How it did not get crushed is beyond all plausible explanation. A building, a giant colossus of a building, fell on it, and yet it survived. Unbendable steel bent, unbreakable beams broke, and things were vaporized on that terrible, terrible morning, yet a new golf ball, somehow, stayed whole.
It is not lopsided nor dented nor cut. The dimples are splotched with the brown sprinklings of dust, but otherwise it could have just come out of a fresh sleeve.
The symbolism inherent in this causes people to crowd around it and stare with a hushed reverence, as though it were a religious object.
You look at it and it makes something well within you, a geyser of pride.
For like the city in which it was entombed, like this country, it is still here, and defiantly, thunderingly so.
Or, as New York Gov. George Pataki said at Wednesday's presentation: "We're back, and better than ever."
The USGA is holding its Open championship, which begins Thursday, on a public course. It is the first time in the tournament's 102 years that the people's Open is being held on a people's course.
And Bethpage, which is located in the middle of Long Island, is about 50 miles from ground zero.
The golf ball that survived 9-11 seemed most appropriate.
"It was April 1 when I found it," Caputo said. "I looked at it and I just smiled. Isn't that something?"
Like a lot of firefighters and police, Caputo plays golf. He's been among the participants of Midnight Madness, which is what they call the fanatics who sleep in their cars so they can be first off the tee at any of the five courses at Bethpage.
"I had a 10 handicap once upon a time," he said. "Now it's unrecognizable."
There was a pause and then, like a true golfer, he told of his greatest moment: "I did have a hole in one here. On the Fourth of July."
Another pause, and then, just to keep the record straight: "It was on the Yellow course, though, not the Black one."
There are four red letters on the golf ball that John Caputo found when he was raking through the debris: NYSA. New York Shipping Association.
Headquarters: 20th floor, South Tower, World Trade Center. Correction: "Former headquarters.
"But everyone got out," said Beverly Fedorko of the NYSA.
"We had 42 dozen of those golf balls made up, for charities, tournaments, events like that. We'd already given about 12 dozen away. They were kept in a closet in the president's office."
"What do you suppose the odds were on that one surviving?"
The white-haired man who stood for pictures during the presentation ceremony on Wednesday was John Vigiano, a captain in the FDNY, and something of a legend. He lost two sons, Joseph, a policeman, and John, a fireman, on 9-11.
On the breast of his dress blues, Caputo wore a badge that had a picture of the Vigiano boys.
Caputo lives in Hauppauge, a village not far from Bethpage. On the morning of 9-11, he saw the South Tower on TV in flames, saw the second suicide plane slice into the North Tower. He was 50 miles away, but it didn't matter.
"Deb, I've got to go down there," he told his wife. "I've just got to."
Debbie Caputo ran to the front door and blocked him. She would not be budged.
"I'm sure she saved my life," Caputo said Wednesday, his voice choking.
And then, almost seven months later, raking through the remnants of hell, that flash of white caught his eye and he fished out of the wreckage, of all things, a golf ball.
This silly little thing that we hit at and chase after and curse.
You look at it now and you swear that it glows like a candle.
February 19, 2002, Associated Press /Yakima Herald-Republic, America at War -- Heroes' Images, Sounds on Tape -- Video documents impossible mission of New York City firefighters on Sept. 11,
by Stephanie Gaskell,
NEW YORK - The firefighters' movements are calm as they arrive at the burning north tower of the World Trade Center. Their eyes grow wide as the magnitude of their mission becomes clear. Then come the thumps - one after another - and a voice saying that people are jumping.
The horrific noises continue as the videotape shot by two French filmmakers keeps rolling: A drone followed by a sudden bang accompanies the image of a second plane slamming into the south tower and later, a white noise builds to a crescendo as that tower collapses and people run for cover.
The tape by brothers Gedeon and Jules Naudet is an extraordinary account of courage and dread, of composure under pressure and of the cataclysmic moments that, for many of the men captured on it, were their last.
It has made the rounds of New York firehouses since Sept. 11 and was recently reviewed by The Associated Press. CBS plans to air footage on March 10 to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the attacks.
"When I sat down to watch this video, I was very apprehensive," said John Vigiano, a retired firefighter whose sons, firefighter John and police Det. Joseph, died in the attacks. "But when I was finished watching it, the overwhelming emotion I had was pride. There was never a sign of panic in anybody."
The fire department is using the tape as an investigative tool, but it also contains historical significance and great personal meaning, spokesman Francis Gribbon said. Rights to the tape belong to the Naudets, who have worked closely with the department on its use.
"They've been very sensitive to the families and the fact that they've had this footage of a significant number of people who perished that day," Gribbon said.
The brothers were shooting a documentary about the life of a probationary firefighter, as they had been doing for many weeks, when the attacks began.
The opening shot has been seen by millions. The camera, taping firefighters checking a gas leak in lower Manhattan, pans up and captures the first plane slamming into the north tower. Most of the footage was shot by Jules, who accompanied firefighters to the north tower where they set up their first command center.
What happens over the next two hours has not been seen by the public.
As Jules and firefighters race to the scene, someone asks, "What kind of plane was that?" Joe Pfeifer, chief of Battalion 1, answers: "That looked like American Airlines. That looked like a direct attack."
Top fire officials gather to coordinate their strategy in the lobby as the tower's occupants, seen as silhouettes on the mezzanine level above, stream out of the building. Pfeifer tells a firefighter: "Don't go any higher than 70."
Members of Rescue 1, a specialty rescue unit, can be seen heading toward the stairwells to walk up the tower as thousands of people head down. No one from that unit made it out alive that day.
Then the south tower is hit.
Startled, firefighters rush to the windows to look outside. More debris falls. "Mayday! Mayday!" blares over the radios. The thumps continue and sirens wail.
Fire Chaplain Rev. Mychal Judge, dressed in full firefighting gear with his white collar peeking out, paces the floor. Firefighters watch him, as if seeking reassurance. Judge would be dead within the hour.
The call comes over the radio: "Everybody come out now. All units in Tower 1 (the north tower), get out now."
Pfeifer struggles with his radio, trying to get a clear signal. Radio problems plagued the department that day, firefighters later reported. A Port Authority officer frantically presses buttons on the elevator switchboard. "Is anyone in the car?" he asks over and over.
And then it happens.
With a roaring "ssshhh," the south tower collapses. Everyone in the north tower runs for cover and the tape goes blank. When it comes back on, the lens is covered in ash and it is dark everywhere.
Voices cry out, one atop the next: "Everybody all right?" "Guys, we need help here." "We gotta get everybody out. Let's move." "Can we get out that way? The front door is blocked."
Pfeifer gets on the radio: "Command post to all units in Tower 1. Evacuate the building."
He leads a group over a footbridge to the World Financial Center across the street, finally finding a stairwell and heading onto the street. Debris is everywhere. Papers fall from the sky like confetti.
"Mayday! Mayday!" Pfeifer speaks into his radio: "Battalion 1, Division 1, where are you?"
Pfeifer lived, but 21 of his men died that day.