I posted earlier about how when I read names on 9/11, it occurred to me that the people I was reading names with were the people who went down there to help and lived. The readers this year were first responders and volunteers. When we were lined up to read, I turned around and took pictures of the people in the line behind me.
Some of you may remember me pointing out the sweet faced guy in the white hat.
A firefighter friend IM’ed me. “The Lt with the nice face is Mickey Kross. Mickey survived in the stairwell remember that group?”
Mickey Kross, a Lieutenant with Engine 16, was in stairwell of the north tower when it collapsed. I found his story in his own words. I’m posting a few excerpts, but the full story is here.
“We had finally made it down to about the 3rd floor when we suddenly heard this tremendous noise. Hurricane winds overcame the stairwell and picked me up. I moved towards the railing to try to make myself as small as possible for shelter; I literally tried to squeeze myself into my helmet. Debris hit me from all angles and enveloped the stairwell in total darkness. I didn’t know what was happening, that the entire tower was collapsing down on top of us, but whatever it was, I didn’t think it was something I could overcome. My prayer was that it just be quick. But, just as suddenly as it began it ended, and I was engulfed by a total silence.”
Stairway B, Tower 1.
“We were given rope to help us extricate ourselves from the debris and we crawled out one by one, but at the top, were faced with a minefield of jagged surfaces and beams. You had no idea where you could and couldn’t step. I started walking what I now know now was east but it brought me to a less stable area. I was told to turn around. Everything from the offices was pulverized, like a blizzard, except a two of clubs playing card which I found in the debris and still have today. Eventually, I saw my captain coming up the pile and that’s when I realized that I was probably going to be all right.”
“There was a desk set up on West and Vesey with a list of about 400 firefighters who were presumed dead, including myself. I still can’t believe that I was able to cross my name off that list, but 343 members of my department remained on there permanently, including many longtime personal friends, six firefighters from Ladder 7, the unit we shared our firehouse with, and the officer from engine 1, who I’d just been traveling up the stairs with. I stayed at the site until 10 p.m. that evening, and returned every day for approximately three months to bring them home.”
“I don’t like to revisit the memories of that day, and thankfully some have been erased from my mind, but I feel compelled to try to remember and express what happened there for sake of those who can’t.”
I don’t know what to say. I wish I had shaken his hand. (All of their hands, really.)