I am a 9/11 first responder and son of 30 year FDNY firefighter Rich Murray from Engine 205 and Ladder 118, we were a first due firehouse and lost many men that day, mentors and heroes that raised me and some of my fathers best friends.
My father was off work that day at his home in staten island when he called me the morning of 9/11 and said "this is going to be a big problem" for the guys and he was on his way to the firehouse in downtown brooklyn next to the brooklyn bridge. There was only a fire at this point and no one had yet realized what was happening. He picked up 3 fireman friends on the way and i met him at his firehouse. When he arrived other off duty fireman packed his car and were hanging out of the trunk to get to the trade center and help. Thousands of people were running from manhattan and there was my dad and his friends in his toyota solara and me following with other fireman in my volkswagen jetta driving the wrong way over the brooklyn bridge. I couldnt make it thru the traffic but my dad and his friends did.
I was forced to turn back, parked my car at engine 205 and ran by foot after my dad. As i ran across the bridge the first tower collapsed, i was panicked that my dad had gotten there minutes prior and worried about his fate. I arrived in at the foot of the brooklyn bridge and what i saw was nothing short of an armgeddon like scene from a movie. There was one police office and no firetrucks visible thru the smoke and debris but there was my dad's car, covered in silt parked in the middle of the street. He and his friends were nowhere to be found. I found one other person who worked on the nyse and we waited in a building vestibule as the second tower came down. It sounded like war. It was one of the scariest situations ive ever experienced and on top of that i thought we lost my dad. After waiting for him for some time i went back to the firehouse which was empty, and i started to assist elderly and other people of needed who needed water or to sit and rest for a few moments.
Off duty fireman started to arrive from all over the city but they couldnt get into manhattan. I started to drive them over the bridge in the oncoming traffic lane and every trip back i ferried people who needed help. On one trip i drove a fireman and a priest back to squad 1 in brooklyn, he had just lost many men from his house- it was surreal for he and a priest to be in my car under these circumstance. I still did not know of my dad was alive.
At 3pm my father came back to the firehouse from the hospital with burns to his eyes. He could not go back in that night, he had temporary blindness. He gave me his bunker gear and boots, and gave his blessing for me to go back to the trade center with of his peers..
It was dark by the time we got there, fire was pouring out of various places and Century 21 dept store was being looted when we arrived. These are the visuals that will never leave my mind. As we got to the southeast corner we started climbing what was left of the tower, looking back we were all on the most jagged peak surround a pit of fire. There was a rope line, smoke billowing everywhere, flames and heat shooting out of this whole were a building once stood. Here I was with my lifetime heroes in gear looking for survivors. One man was brought out of the whole, stripped naked and barely alive. Wow. What a moment. It was probably midnight when one of my dads friends had his eyes burnt so we rushed to the triage unit that was setup in brooks brothers clothing. Young kids and volunteers were running with orange juice and eye flush trying to help the injured men in what used to be a high end mens clothing store it was something i could have never imagined.
I spent the next five days away from my job at smith barney digging at the site and working the bucket lines day and night living at my dads firehouse.
We lost many men, dads and sons that day, I was lucky to not have lost mine. My Dad is now disabled with several cancer bouts and other health issues but luckily he's still here.
9/11 is burned in my soul, Never Forget is not a just a phrase in my family or life. Not sure if this is what you were looking for but it was somewhat cathartic to write. I would welcome a quality tattoo memorializing this time in my life.
Rich was tattooed during Healing Ink NY by artist Brad Fink at the Rivington Hotel overlooking the Freedom Tower on July 12th, 2017