“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

Mysterious man in Red Bandana

 

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. 

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9/11 Dealing with PTSD.

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

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The never ending disaster... 15 years later

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. 

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Remembering Chief Stack, Safety Battalion

Remembering Chief Stack, Safety Battalion

Following the attacks on 9/11/01, like many families, the Stack family held out hope that one day the remains of Lawrence Stack would show up. Anything would do, something with DNA that they can say good bye to. 14 years with nothing and the door has yet to be closed, so the family made the ultimate decision they would attempt to locate something from him that they could say good bye to. Larry and his wife, Kathleen, were blood donors. Kathleen contacted the Blood bank in a blind attempt to locate his donation. A few months went by and the phone rings- Larry's blood was found in storage in Minnesota. The donation was donated back to the family, which they chose to use as a piece of a loving husband, father, brother, best friend to say to good bye to.

Larry Stack was one of many real life heroes that day, but his life leading up to his death was nothing short of spectacular. Before he joined the FDNY, Larry spent 6 years in the US Navy. His last year was the Vietnam War. February 19, 1966, he joined the NYPD for a short period following his honorable discharge from the Navy, but being from a family of FDNY firefighters, joining the department was a no brainer. His father spent 38 years on the job, his brother Dennis retired as a Captain with over 25 years on, his 2 sons; Michael joined the FDNY in 1994 and is presently a Lieutenant in Ladder 176 and Brian is in Ladder 123 detailed to Rescue 4, and his brother-in-law retired as a Lieutenant with over 25 years on the job. 

October 19, 1968, Chief Stack joined the FDNY assigned to Ladder 107 then to Ladder 175 in 1970. In 1981, he was promoted to Lieutenant and after a year of bouncing he was assigned to 35 Truck in Lincoln Center on Manhattan's Upper West Side.  On April 5th, 1984, he was promoted to Captain. He bounced around Manhattan until January 6th, 1987 when he got the spot in Engine 8, Midtown East. March 17th 1990, Larry was promoted to Battalion Chief, working in the 50 Battalion. In 1994, he transfered to the Safety Battalion. 

June 17th, 2016 is the date set for the funeral of Chief Lawrence Stack. This date has significant meaning; It is the 49th wedding anniversary of Larry and Kathleen. Also, June 17th, 2001 was a Sunday, it was also Father's Day and Larry Stack was working the day tour. Around 2pm, Queens Companies were assigned to fire in Hardware Store- Long Island General Store at 12-22 Astoria Blvd. 40 minutes into the fire an explosion occured, this took the life of 3 firemen and injured many more. The Safety Battalion's responsibility, in addition to firefighting duties, is investigating line of duty injuries and deaths. Following this fire, Chief Stack was on administrative detail to conduct his investigation of the fire that took place on June 17th which is known as The Father's Day Fire.

On September 11th, 2001, Chief Stack reported to his office at the Brooklyn Navy Yard ready to put his final report together on the Father's Day fire when the 1st plane flew into the tower. The view from the Brooklyn Navy Yard is lower Manhattan. All members in the firehouse went up to the roof. Larry had his binoculars with him and as he was watching the horror unfold, the 2nd plane struck the other tower. Larry turned to the others and said, "We will be needed, we need to go", and off they went. 

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