“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the firefighter has to do believe that his is a noble calling."
-Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY circa 1910
Seventeen years out from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, nearly 10,000 first responders and others who were in the World Trade Center area have been diagnosed with cancer. More than 2,000 deaths have been attributed to 9/11 illnesses.It will get worse. By the end of 2018, many expect that more people will have died from their toxic exposure from 9/11 than were killed on that terrible Tuesday.
“We’re nervous,” said Dr. Michael Crane, medical director of the World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at Mount Sinai.
Robert Reeg of Stony Point, New York, knows the feeling. The retired Fire Department of New York firefighter was seriously injured in the South Tower collapse. In the last 17 years, he's seen fellow first responders who survived the attacks fall victim to the illnesses caused by the contaminants that were spewed all over.
"You lose track, there's so many of them," the 66-year-old said. As for his own health risks, given the growing incidents of cancer among 9/11 first responders, Reeg said he doesn't dwell on it. "It's at the back of your mind. But you can't let it control you."
The average age of a 9/11 first responder is now about 55. While many people face a cancer diagnosis as they age, the rate of some cancers among first responders is up to 30 percent higher than in the general population, Crane said.
The Town of Hempstead renamed a Point Lookout street to commemorate a local FDNY firefighter who died of a 9/11-related illness. The street sign reading “Ginny Ann Avenue,” named for Virginia Ann Culkin-Spinelli, a longtime Point Lookout resident who participated in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, was unveiled Saturday morning in an emotional ceremony. “While this is just a simple street sign, this sign will be a lasting tribute to the legacy of Ginny Ann,” said Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney (R-Wantagh). “Heroes like Ginny Ann should never be forgotten".
Councilwoman Sweeney was joined by Culkin-Spinelli's friends & family at the corner of Lynbrook Avenue, now Ginny Ann Avenue & Bayside Drive. Members of the community, the FDNY & local fire departments also were present.
"Mom has been honored in Colorado Springs, Albany & the town park", said Spinelli's daughter, Shannon Llewellyn. "This is more of an honor. It hits closer to home"
Culkin-Spinelli joined the FDNY in 1982 & was part of the 1st class of female firefighters to join the department, Sweeney said. She served Engine 226 in Brooklyn, later transfered to Engine 329 in Rockaway.
She was a member of the FDNY for 20 years, retiring to St Augustine, Florida with her husband Vincent Spinelli in 2002.
Retired FDNY Battalion Chief Robert Miuccio, a Ground Zero hero famed for walking through burning buildings with a cigar in his mouth instead of an air mask, died Thursday of 9/11-related cancer, his family said. He was 76.
"My dad never stopped thinking about the guys in the department," his son, retired firefighter Robert Miuccio Jr., told the Daily News. "When we were at the hospital, he was talking in his sleep. 'Come on boys! We gotta put the fire out.'"
Miuccio, who served with the department for 39 years, died after a two-year battle with lung cancer, officials and family said.
When planes crashed into the Twin Towers, the Staten Island firefighter — whose brother Richard, 55, worked on the 86th floor of 2 World Trade Center — grabbed his gear and boarded a ferry headed downtown.
Miuccio's brother perished in the terror attack. He set aside his grief for the next 3½ months as he led firefighters' efforts to recover the remains of the dead.
You have heard many stories about the heroic acts on 9/11, but did you hear about the mysterious man in the red bandana? Welles Crowther was working as an American Equities trader on 9/11/01 at the World Trade Center. Truth be told, the 24 year old wasn't looking forward to a desk job for the rest of his life. He had further dreams, and plenty of time to fulfill them. When he turned 16, Welles joined the Volunteer Fire Service, joining the footsteps of his father at Nyack Empire Hook & Ladder company.
At the age of 6, Welles' father gave him a red bandana which stayed with him through the years. It became his signature trademark, a link between father and son. While playing lacrosse at Boston College, Welles wore his bandana under his helmet. In 1999, he graduated with honors degree in economics, which led to his career at the World Trade Center; his office was on the 104th floor of the South Tower. At 9:03am on September 11th, 2001, United flight 175 struck the South Tower between floors 78 & 85. Welles called his mother at 9:12am and left a calm message assuring his family he was OK. He fought the smoke and flames down to the 78th floor sky lobby, where he found survivors. Crowther left his trading career in his office and his firefighting bloodlines took over. He was ready to do his job, the calling that was sent for him at a young age. In an authoritive voice, he directed ambulatory patients to the A stairway which he previously descended from his office. He used his red bandana to cover his nose and mouth, and was carrying a woman down 15 flights. Welles job wasn't done, knowing the danger his life was in, he put it aside and went back up to rescue more.
In May, the New York Times published accounts of 9/11 which Welles' parents were reading. 1 account stood out. Judy Wein, a survivor from the South Tower noted a mysterious man in a red bandana coming to the aide of numerous people. His parents knew immediately, they found what their son was doing before he died.
December 15th, 2006, Commissioner Scoppetta and Chief Cassano posthumously named Welles Crowther Honorary Firefighter with the FDNY. Following Welles' death, his family found a partially filled out application to take the test for the FDNY. Knowing it would be a huge pay cut, Welles' still planned to follow his dream.
Everyone deals with depression in their own way. As the anniversary of 9/11 quickly approaches, I would like to share my story of dealing with PTSD, and I manage it every anniversary.
I only worked at the site for a day on 9/12/01, and what I saw will stay with me forever. I can remember 9/11/02 was a restless day and very depressing. On 9/11/03, I decided not to sit around and cry, so I drove into Brooklyn. I found a park in Brooklyn Heights that had a great view of Lower Manhattan. There were a lot of other New Yorkers there, candles were lit and we just watched our City and the skyline that will never be the same. I had a camera with me, in the early 2000's, digital cameras were up and coming. So I took a few pictures. Little did I know, this was me dealing with my PTSD. I was still depressed but I managed to find something to occupy my night and kind of keep me occupied. 9/11/04, I ended up doing the same thing and to this day, I plan accordingly. Since I became an FDNY Firefighter, I got creative. I spent a lot of money on a good camera. During the day I spend the anniversary with my firehouse family as we remember everyone who was lost from the firehouse that day. At night, I do the same thing I did on 9/11/03. 9/11/13, I reached out to a friend on the Fire Boat and they took me out around Manhattan. 9/11/14 & 9/11/15, I went to New Jersey.
While I have plenty of pictures, I will continue the tradition. What took place on that day was nothing but the best of the FDNY and the Country's Fire Service. Members in different capacities gave it their all. Some were working, some weren't. Some were retired, working at the WTC as Fire Safety Directors, others were on injury at Headquarters and still responded. Retired members from home who didn't have to come out, did. An actor/former FDNY Firefighter turned the cameras off and went to his former firehouse to help. On 9/11/01, I responded as a volunteer from Long Island, I met a lot of other members from departments in NY, NJ and across the country.
Below are pictures I have taken. There are 3 pictures that I took from 2003 at the park. We lost members right after 9/11 to PTSD suicide. I wish I could turn back the clock and tell them, there is another way, but I understand their pain.... we all do. If anyone struggles, the FDNY CTU is there for you. Don't deal with it alone, because your not.
God bless America
15 years ago, on September 11th, 2001, the United States of America took a terrorist hit from radical extremists. This event was felt worldwide; and as a Country- we saw the best and the worst humanity has to offer. Through tragedy, the good hearts stood out and shined brightly. From 1st responders to volunteers, whether it was every day civilians to medical professionals, we all rose to the occation. Funds were set up, musicians and celebrities put on a concert to raise money (The Concert for America). It was a time when we united to recover and respond. Through the dust and rubble rose the stars and stripes, a symbol that we will not back down.
15 years later, we are still recovering. There are many out there that do not realize, hearts are still sore. Our brothers/sisters/mothers/fathers are still dying, many others suffering and fighting cancer and other various illnesses. A dose of reality, that you *hopefully* will never feel, is when you go to the Cancer Center and see friends/co-workers there. That is what is happening today! More than 150 NYC Firefighters have lost their lives to post-9/11 illness. Many are actively fighting. Some recieved their date of death from the doctors but are still here because they refuse to give up.
In a sense, the nightmare that was 9/11/01 is still happening. I feel the need to write this because, perhaps Facebook has changed something in their marketing scheme, or there really are sneaky people out there that see money in tragedy. Over the past few weeks, I have seen advertising posts from pages I have not 'liked' on Facebook, advertising a 9/11 15th Anniversary t-shirt. An Anniversary t-shirt is a great idea, to keep the memory alive, provided the motive behind the shirt is respectable ie: Proceeds to a foundation so that they may reach those who lived the tragedy and are fighting to live. Unfortunately, we know many people who have questioned some of these fly-by-night pages on facebook and our questions go unanswered/deleted, our accounts are banned from the page. This is called Damage Control by those running the page, deleting the negativity. They avoid the spotlight and continue doing what their doing.
We are asking you, if you really are enthusiastic about seeing an awesome looking t-shirt commemorating one of our worst attacks on our home soil, please do your research. Don't open your wallet so quickly. Inquire where the money is going. DO NOT accept a vague reply. Get specifics. The page 'Support Firefighters' has a 9/11 anniversary t-shirt.... but it is a design that is already out there. Go to www.fdnyshop.com and you will find the original design. www.fdnyshop.com is an official page of the FDNY Foundation, a legit foundation that is there helping FDNY firefighters, and the facebook page 'Support Firefighters' took the design and changed minor details and are marketing it on-line.
Facebook will not shut their page down, it is up to us to look into it. Please share this article, spread the word.