Gazing from the depths of a void, past the crumbling facade, we could make out the silhouette of the World Financial Center in the distance. Surrounded by twisted steel and blanketed in smoke, we ventured into the chaos, desperately searching for any signs of life. Despite the dangers of the heat and smoke, we held onto hope and pushed forward, determined to never stop until we found what we were looking for. In that moment, the idea of giving up simply wasn't an option.
Gazing from the depths of a void
As the heat and smoke obscured our vision, it was as if Gibby - our fearless friend and comrade, had been swallowed whole by the disaster. Yet, even amidst the chaos, he pressed forward with unyielding determination. With a skill and training honed by years of experience, he fearlessly navigated the twisted and bent remnants of the structures, searching for any sign of life. His resolve was unwavering, his bravery unmatched as he ventured into the depths of the wreckage, in the hopes of finding some closure for the families of his fallen brother firefighters. It was a testament to his strength and character that he was known as the "Juggernaut" amongst us.
Gibson Gibby Craig "surrounded by danger"
As we delve deeper into the depths of the rubble, we are faced with the reality of the dangerous conditions that our brother firefighters endured. In this image of Gibson Craig, taken six stories below the World Trade Center, we find ourselves in a parking garage that once held the promise of hope. Here, the Juggernaut stands alert, his coat adorned with the names of our fallen brothers from Squad 41. Despite the destruction and chaos surrounding us, we are drawn to the red substance splattered across his coat, which we soon recognize as hydraulic fluid from a malfunctioning tool. The memory of the difficulties faced and overcome by our fellow firefighters is inescapable. Yet, amidst the destruction, we are also greeted by mysterious orbs floating around Gibson, a phenomenon that has sparked intrigue and speculation for years to come. The scene is a testament to the bravery of those who risked their lives to save others, even in the face of insurmountable odds.
the Juggernaut stands alert, his coat adorned with the names of our fallen brothers from Squad 41
"Do you want to talk about a dangerous operation? Ed Walsh, a firefighter, describes the caustic mix in the air at Ground Zero, with smoke and heat from the obliterated glass, concrete, and asbestos. Two fire officers are seen looking down into the twisted steel, where two squad firefighters have just descended into the intense heat and danger. Despite the hellish and frightening conditions, they held out hope that they might find someone, some remains, to bring closure to a heartbroken family. The first week at Ground Zero was a harrowing experience, even for these brave firefighters."
"The view around the corner from Ground Zero is frightening. My comrade Gibby and I sought refuge behind a building to escape the scene for a moment. as we looked up, we saw the remnants of the fallen towers hanging from a nearby building. The thought of an elderly woman in one of the apartments during the chaos is unbearable. This was just a coffee break for us, in a few minutes, we'll be walking back into the aftermath of the tragedy. We won't stop until we find something, someone, or some remains."
Nighttime operations at Ground Zero were extremely perilous. Despite the risks, we worked around the clock, 24/7. The outside heat and smoke were overwhelming, making it unbearably hot, with steel melting beneath our feet in some places. It was a constant struggle to navigate the darkness, but we persevered with as many tools and lights as we could carry, knowing that we were searching for survivors and human remains. When the morning sun finally rose, it brought a sense of relief, knowing that the day crew wouldn't have to face the same dangerous conditions that we had. Despite the hardships and danger, we continued to work tirelessly to bring closure to families and to honor the memories of those lost.
I gave Scotty the nickname 'Iron Man' and he probably doesn't even know it. He's an unbelievable firefighter, a fantastic guy, and a family man. He put himself in harm's way time and time again and did things that must be remembered and can't be forgotten.
On September 11, 2001, Scotty, or Ironman Schrimpe, recalls how the average New York City firefighter's gear changed as hours turned into days and days into weeks. Masks were mandatory, bunker gear was shredded to slip in and out of voids easier, hard hats were worn over fire helmets, and marking paint was used to identify victims. Rubber gloves and Vick's were used for protection when recovering remains.
Scotty carried spare batteries and blades in his backpack for seawalls and rebar cutters, and he always had a three-foot crowbar that he pulled off of Squad 41's rig on that fateful day. He had it during the entire operation until May of 2002, and it was spray-painted fluorescent orange so he wouldn't lose it in the debris. If it could talk, it would only cry."
Scott Schrimpe Squad 41 FDNY
Nestled in the depths of the disaster lay a labyrinth of twisted steel rebar, stripped of its former anchorage in concrete and reduced to mere inches amidst the rubble. The force of the collapse had transformed hundreds of feet of solid flooring into a fine powder, mixing with shards of glass and countless toxic substances to form a toxic plume that hung ominously over the site. This caustic mixture of concrete, glass, and countless noxious chemicals remains largely unknown to this day, posing a persistent danger to those who brave its treacherous depths.
FF Gibson Craig Squad 41 FDNY looks up from deep below the disaster
"Our brother's name is now emblazoned on the juggernaut coat. Here, on this street, ironworkers are showing up - people from all walks of life - hoping to help. We're just waiting, whether it's for an assignment or an opportunity to sneak in (laughs). Every moment of opportunity, we had to get in the air and do our job, putting our training and years of experience to work. We were determined to do it, and we were there to do it. We continued on until June 2002, and we closed out that operation. We brought home as many souls as we could, providing closure for as many families as we could, including our own brothers from "the Squad"."
Capt. Russell Vomero FF Gibson Craig FF Ed Walsh
"The west side façade, tough as nails Bruce, stood strong as a symbol of resilience. Some say it resembled a tombstone, but it was a testament to the fact that it wasn't going to fall. We were determined to finish the job, to use all of our powers to search through the high heat and caustic mix of ground glass, smoke, and concrete. We donned paper masks to shield ourselves from the dangerous environment, putting aside the fear and the risks. It was early, but we were already back in there, ready to do everything in our power to bring closure to the families and to honor the memory of those we lost."
"The west side façade, tough as nails FF Bruce VanNosdall FDNY Squad 41
Here we were, 5-6 stories below the disaster, surrounded by heat, smoke, and a caustic mix of pulverized glass, concrete, and asbestos. Two cars, possibly government vehicles, were parked down here, covered in the debris that rained down through this place. Despite the fear and danger of the situation, we knew that these cars represented a potential place where someone could have survived the disaster. We were determined to search every inch of these vehicles, to get as far in as we could, for as long as we could. We were driven by the desire to find someone, to bring closure to a family, and to make a difference in the midst of this tragedy.
vehicles deep below the disaster covered a caustic mix of pulverized glass, concrete and more.
Several stories below the once towering Twin Towers, the cacophony of sounds, searing heat, and overwhelming stench made it an outright terrifying place. But amidst the chaos, it appeared as a probable spot for survival. Take this car, for example, someone could have survived the collapse and taken refuge in it. The Twin Towers, now reduced to a crater, loomed above us, and from our vantage point, we could survey the devastation. One car teetered dangerously close to the edge of the gaping hole. We searched from crevice to crevice, exploring anywhere and everywhere we could for survivors.
Upon exiting the site of the World Trade Center, we came across a chair in the Marriott's lobby that had miraculously survived the collapse. Although I posed for a quick photo, I was in no way taking the situation lightly. The surreal scene around us included photos still hanging on the walls, plants surviving in pots, and only three stories remaining of the once 250-foot building. The rest of the structure had collapsed onto this spot, resulting in the death of 40 people out of the 940 registered guests at the Marriott on September 11. Most of the victims were employees, including some firefighters. This is just another tragic example of the devastation wrought on that day, and it serves as a reminder of the bravery of the police and fire departments who worked tirelessly to rescue as many people as possible. It is a story that deserves to be preserved in history forever, on the blockchain.
FF Ed Walsh the Marriott lobby September 2001