11 Days of Heroes to September 11th, 2023: Adrienne Walsh

Image from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Read a partial transcript from firefighter Adrienne Walsh, who responded to the World Trade Center when he was off duty on the morning of 9/11. He responded with the second wave of firefighters to leave FDNY Ladder Company 20 and recalls the fall of the North Tower:

 “When you got to City Hall…it’s almost as if it was a curtain…The sky disappeared. There was air and bright light on this side, and there was just gray dust you could barely see on this side…We parked right across from the plaza. And I remember getting out, I had no mask, because our rig was already down there, our guys were already down there. So I went to the back of the rig to try to see if there was another mask, another air-pak for me. And I remember going around to the rig, around the backside of the rig, and as I got to the backside of the rig, I looked up…

“I saw what I can only describe as almost like a tornado hurtling at me. Just this cloud of dust that had to be over 100 feet in the air, and it was literally circling, and it was just bearing down. I mean, I’d never seen anything like that and anything move as fast as that, and I turned around and I yelled, ‘Run, run Cap, run!’ ’Cause the captain was behind me. And he looked up—we all took off down the block, and I thought—I honestly thought in the midst of all that, ‘If this is going to come down and it’s going to fall all at once as a building—if I beat the cloud, I’ll beat the building.’ And I said to myself as I turned and started to run, ‘I’m not gonna beat this cloud. It’s just moving too fast.

“I remember making it through the cloud…I remember drawing a line in the middle of my brain and putting those that I thought were dead on one side and those that I thought had a chance on the other.”

Image from New Civil Engineer