I live in New Jersey, I was on my way to work at giants stadium, while driving I heard the report of a plane hitting the WTC, on the radio,Howard Stern. I immediately, thought it must 've been a small cessna type plane, until i rounded the corner and crested the Hill by the Bendix Diner on rt 17 and it was obvious it was not a cessna. The tower looked like a lit ciggarette. a few minutes later when i got into the lot at the stadium, the second plane hit, it was just a streak in the corner of my eye then, a large explosion. I couldn't belive what i was seeing. when the first tower collapsed i thought it was the subways exploding. I just couldn't comprehend the buildings collapsing.
At that point everyone decided to leave and go home, on my way home the bergen cty task force was activated, we went and stood by at a park in leonia, but never moved from there.
two days later, myself and 3 other members of our dept could not sit idle any longer, we went around and collected socks , flashlights, water , clean clothes dust masks, etc... and decide to bring them into the city. We brought our gear w/ us just in case. we figured that we would be turned away,but we all knew many that were killed that day, and we hoped we could help find them.
as we progressed down the west side hiway, we were waved through every check point until no vehicles could go any further.the national guardsman told us to park there and get on a bus that would bring us down to GZ. we put our gear on and proceeded onto the bus. the bus took us and a few others medics, soldiers, & police to a small marina, where we got on a ferry and they sailed us around to directly behind the large building between the towers and the river. a few minutes later my whole life changed. the next 3 days we spent on the pile working feverishly with thousands of other people. not much was said, one of the guy's i was with got a nasty laceration on his arm, a medic stitched him right there on the pile. at one point we slept for a few hours on some desks in a building down the street whose windows had been blown out. by saturday command regained some structure and all of those who shouldn't be there, were forced to leave. we left, got back on a bus and they took us back up to about where our car was. whwn we got out there were thousands of people lining the streets coming up and hugging us, thanking us offering food and water, calling us hero's. I have never felt less like a hero then that day. the car ride home remained silent like much of the previous few days. the four of us still remain friends and 3 of us are still firefighters, but we have never discussed ground zero.
I would like to take a moment, many of you may disapprove of the fact that myself and others went down there. many may feel that we didn't belong. I have battled with that decision many times in the last seven yrs.I have the utmost respect for the FDNY and it's past and present members. I've heard some call others like me sightseer's, It just wasn't true. everyone i saw was working! searching, hoping. many people in this country lost friends that day. i know we found remains in those few days, who they werei don't know. i'm just glad i could return them to their families!