Tuesday, May 24, 2011


FBI Chaplain Paul Wierichs
September 11, 2006, Palm Beach Post, "FBI chaplain recalls unparalleled havoc," by John Lantigua
Wierichs worked for 14 years as the Catholic chaplain to FBI agents in New York City. He bolstered them as they investigated the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, which killed six and injured more than 1,000. He offered them spiritual support as they scoured the grisly remains of TWA Flight 800, which crashed on Long Island in 1996, killing 230 people.
During the following week, Wierichs recalls, 18 people were pulled alive from the wreckage, but hundreds and hundreds were brought out dead, day and night.
"The fire department guys always insisted on carrying their own," he says. "Everyone would stop and salute and I would step forward and anoint them."
He also discovered a makeshift morgue established nearby in a Brooks Brothers men's clothing store.
"They had no body bags yet, so they used Brooks Brothers apparel bags to hold the body parts," he says, with a shake of the head and, even now a look of disbelief.
One day he went to nearby St. Patrick Church, where more bodies had been taken. Lying right in front of the altar was a corpse covered by a blanket and a priest's stole draped over it. The stole is the narrow vestment a priest wears over his shoulders for certain ceremonies.
The body was that of the Rev. Mychal Judge, a fire department chaplain who had died with his men inside the World Trade Center.

September 28, 2005, The Maple Leaf (Canadian National Defense) "The humanity of inhumanity: September 11 revisited," by Kristina Davis,
Senior Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Chaplain (New York Division) Stephen Unger.
The "pastor of disaster"
The traffic was gridlocked in Manhattan as he snagged a ride toward the towers with three NYPD officers. Ironically, they were trying to get to the chaos as hundreds and even thousands of people streamed from the downtown. One officer, Scott, who Chaplain Unger describes as "a little excitable” decided he would clear the traffic—waving his 9 mm in the middle of the street.
Though the tactic worked, Chaplain Unger turned to the officer and said: “Scott, you know I’m a chaplain and that’s not good for my image. Next time, you can borrow my crucifix if you’d like.”
He speaks about Father Mychal Judge the New York City Fire Department chaplain who died of a heart attack shortly after the first tower was hit. Truly loved, his death certificate bears the number 00001, making him the first official casualty of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Chaplain Unger was one of the men who came upon Father Judge’s body, lovingly laid in the 163-year-old St. Peter’s Church. He had been carried there in a chair by some of New York City’s finest and laid at the altar—his body covered by a sheet, his head surrounded by his own blood, and his credentials—as they are called—placed on the sheet.
And while it was erroneously reported that Father Judge died while giving last rites to a firefighter, Chaplain Unger confirms he did die of a heart attack. And he died first, the firefighters who loved him say, so he could be there to greet them at Heaven’s gate.

Dr. Michael K. Haynes is the President and Founder of The Faith Based Counselor Training Institute. Michael is a prolific creative writer and the author of 60 books in addition to curriculums for FBCTI, Canyon Creek Seminary and numerous other schools. Dr. Haynes also founded Crisis Chaplaincy Care following his year of service at Ground Zero in New York City during the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of9/11. He is a licensed pastoral counselor having served as a senior pastor for 16 years. He also operated a private counseling practice and center for several years following. Dr. Haynes has been in the ministry since 1969.

Bishop David Hartman has an extensive background in crisis intervention. He was appointed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to oversee the entire crisis clergy coordination at Ground Zero in New York City following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He is a 22 year veteran retired detective with the New York Police Department and over sees over 200 churches around the world. He holds a Ph.D. in counseling and is a highly sought after speaker. Dr. Hartman and Dr. Haynes became close friends as they worked for over a year together helping the victim’s family's of 9/11. He is also heavily involved in developing the churches of Nigeria.

The Spirit of the Law,
Spiritual Resources For Law Enforcement,

Dr. Steven Davis spearheaded SpiritoftheLaw.org website as a resource for Law Enforcement Administration, EAP units,

Steven L. Davis, Ph.D., is an FBI Chaplain, assigned to Washington, DC and Quantico, VA. In this capacity he is a resource provided by the Bureau to the employees and families of the agency. FBI chaplains work in cooperation with the Employee Assistance Program, and are available for call outs 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide critical incident debriefings, to help employees and their family members find direction in solving personal, family and emotional problems. He was called out to the PentBomb site for the first several days after the terrorist attacks in September 2001. The presence of a Chaplain is requested at critical incidents, such as the 9-11-2001 attacks in New York and the Pentagon, as well as to ERT, death notifications and on an as-needed basis at the request of an employee or of the Bureau.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rudi Giuliani, Michael Gorumba, and What the Talmud Teaches

Starting back in 2004 and 2005, Ray Ubinger, along with other researchers, analyzed the Naudet brothers/James Hanlon-produced documentary film, 9 11, and laid out a case that it constituted a coded portrayal of a sinister subtext underlying the attacks of September 11, 2001. Ubinger calls it "a snuff film."

In a December, 2005 thread at Democratic Underground, Strange Death of Michael Gorumba, he spells out this position:
"I posit that the Naudet-FDNY team had Michael Gorumba MURDERED (on August 28, 2001), maybe with a heart-attack-mimicking drug, for the specific purpose of advancing the plot and increasing the dramatic tension of the Naudet movie."
adding for good measure
"I am confident that Joseph Pfeifer and Jules Naudet had direct involvement in a murder against Mychal F. Judge, or/and filming Mychal F. Judge being murdered, inside WTC-1 on 9/11. I am strongly suspicious that James Hanlon and Eddie Fahey helped Pfeifer and Jules Naudet in this."
I subsequently looked into the case of Father Mychal Judge, and I am equally as confident as Ubinger that Judge's death was a premeditated, sacrificial murder executed by members of the New York City Fire Department for its value as public relations, and for the purposes of storytelling.

I hadn't looked into the death of Firefighter Michael Gorumba before now. He was the young probationary firefighter who died a line-of-duty death fighting a fire on Staten Island on August 28, 2001---just 13 days before the epochal attack that killed a further 343 of his brothers---and the story of his death serves in the film as a stylistic presage, or coded premonitory of what is to come.

In the DU thread, Ubinger mentions that
"He was reportedly found dead, alone in the firetruck, by a PLAINCLOTHES COP who just HAPPENED to be (wink, wink) passing by the scene of the fire."
In studying the media record available online, this reference remained a mystery to me---until recently, when by chance, I came upon a copy of the journalism that records it: an article in the Staten Island Advance from August 29, 2001, headlined, "Firefighter Felled By Apparent Heart Attack At Auto Shop Blaze," by Frank Donnelly and Ryan Lillis.

This article is both a primary and singular source for new information like this, elements which call into question the known media reporting on the event, and I have no doubt it was effectively suppressed by an active and determined agency for these past nine years. Its veracity can be judged by the standards of professional journalism, but in its effect it does more than further disintegrate the official narrative. By coming to light as it does now, it challenges our presumptions of how truth and reality can be known, which may be the ultimate lesson we have to learn from 9/11.

I have assembled a worksheet on Michael Garumba aimed at determining the facts of his death, as well as several other highly publicized uniformed-service fatalities, which taken together buttress a central point--- that the publicized demarcation between an individual's life and death can be manipulated by governments and authorities working in conjunction with a cooperative corporate media. In other words, death can be faked for political ends; with mock funerals for people still living but remaining in seclusion; or, with the help of agents and actors playing the roles of survivors and "family members," simulating the death of computer generated identities for consumption second-hand in newspapers and on television.

And nothing was more politically motivated than the 3,000 deaths on 9-11.

If death is faked to serve manipulative agendas, so are many aspects of life put to such use. Another reference from Ubinger's DU thread hints at this:
"In an intriguing side note, Rudy Giuliani scored political points by arranging for himself to give away Gorumba's sister at her wedding on September 15, 2001."
Ubinger is mistaken to classify Giuliani's performance following 9/11 as a political victory. The effect of his role was far deeper and more psychologically profound than that. A traumatized public needed a heroic leader to guide them in the aftermath, and who better to play the role than a foreknowledged participant who hadn't undergone the same traumatization process? A key player in front of the camera who likely had been given ample time and unlimited resources to prepare and rehearse for his role.

Not only was Giuliani immune from the psychic scorch of the millennial attack affecting the public, he was part of the operational planning, which for a scheme on the scale of 9/11 didn't stop when the second tower came down, or the third, for that matter. A road map for the aftermath was clearly set in place, at least until the Iraqi people stood up to the corruption of the American military occupation under Paul Bremer, and the tattered plans had to be recalibrated.

So the wedding of Michael Gorumba's sister, scheduled for the Saturday four days after the attacks, and the larger circumstances which necessitated a surrogate's role of escorting the bride down the aisle (in addition to her brother's death, her father and grandfather had both died within the year, with some accounts placing their deaths within the preceding few months,) afforded an opportunity that could function as a turning point, between the despair of the still yet undetermined losses, and a promised return to a hopeful normalcy. And what is more hopeful than a wedding?

Nothing in the 9/11 narrative has the fingerprints of psychologists and scriptwriters all over it as much as does Giuliani's wedding interlude.

And nothing could provide a more just irony than Giuliani, the man who informed his second wife he was leaving her by way of a city hall press conference, being fitted into such shoes.

It doesn't take the return of a prodigal-son newspaper article to make this case either. The record is replete with glaring inconsistencies and garish performances, which might have worked as public relations spin under the emotional shock of the moment, but it is startlingly galling to witness now.

A bride whose determined mother insists a wedding go forward two weeks after the sudden death of her 27-year-old, only son, with the loss of both her husband and father still fresh in memory, wouldn't let a little thing like 9/11 intervene, would she?

Is it normal to travel from this

to this, but while also sharing the communal experience of September 11th, only four days before?

Did this service that Giuliani volunteered to perform really require the presence of an international press corps there to record it? Supposedly, Giuliani's arrival outside the church caused the crowds gathered there to begin a chant of "USA! USA! USA!" that could be heard inside. His actual entrance as he walked down the aisle gave rise to spontaneousness applause by the attendees. Who exactly was doing whom a service in this scenario?

Only Giuliani Partners knows for sure.

I've spelled out the anomalous detail more fully here. But evidence of the writerly nature of this piece of the 9/11 narrative comes from another source---Mr. Giuliani himself.

He wrote about his experience in walking Miss Gorumba down the aisle in a first-person account that was included in a book Marlo Thomas edited, called, 'The Right Words at the Right Time." Published in 2004, it is a compilation of feel-good vignettes written by bold-face names, and Giuliani's fits in very nicely here. The beginnings of his story are available online at Google Books, and I've extracted small samples from the copyrighted work under provision of the Fair Use Act.

Because a problem presents itself. I found a second version of Mr. Giuliani's story online, on a page from the website of the Beth Tzedec Congregation of Toronto. Called Weddings and Funerals, Yom Tov and Yizkor, although no author's attribution is given, the page says it is copyrighted 2008, by the Beth Tzedec Congregation itself. I've also excerpted brief passages from it for the purpose of a comparison.

For it appears that one party is plagiarizing the other, in a classic case where long stretches are lifted directly from the same source, and while both follow an identical development, enough variation exists to hint that an attempt at disguise has been made.


From: 'The Right Words at the Right Time, by Marlo Thomas & Rudolph Giuliani
Think about it. At this very moment I have two things in front of me: dealing with my son's death---which I have to do and will do---and dealing with my daughter's wedding. I choose to focus on the wedding. Why? Because life is a combination of great tragedy and great beauty. This family will deal with our tragedy. But we will also celebrate the beauty of this wedding with even greater joy.
She told him: at this moment I have two choices in front of me: dealing with my son’s death — which I have to do and which I will do---and dealing with my daughter’s wedding. I choose to focus on the wedding because, she said, life is a combination of great tragedy and great beauty. We will deal with our tragedy. But we will also celebrate the beauty of this wedding and we will do so with even greater joy.”
From: Weddings and Funerals, Yom Tov and Yizkor, Beth Tzedec Congregation of Toronto,


From: 'The Right Words at the Right Time, by Marlo Thomas & Rudolph Giuliani
The next day, I went to the wake. Mrs. Gorumba approached me with her daughter by her side. "This girl has lost all of the male relatives in her life," Mrs. Gorumba began, "and there's no one left to give her away on her wedding day. Even before this tragedy, our family admired you, so I want to ask you a favor: Could you walk my daughter down the aisle?"
"I would be honored," I told Mrs. Gorumba. I also said what was in my heart: "This was one of the most beautiful things anyone had ever asked of me.
At the wake, Mrs. Gorumba came over to him, with her daughter. She said to him, “We have a favour to ask. My daughter has lost all of the male relatives in her life. In ten months she has lost her father, her grandfather, and now her brother. We have no one left in the family to walk her down the aisle. Our family has always admired you. I would like to ask you a favour. Would you walk my daughter down the wedding aisle, please?” Giuliani told her that this was one of the most beautiful things that anyone had ever asked him to do in his whole life. And he promised that he would be there.
From: Weddings and Funerals, Yom Tov and Yizkor, Beth Tzedec Congregation of Toronto,

I believe this represents the presence of a master underlying narrative script, which both versions use as their foundational source. I have long suspected that these sorts of scripts underlie the work of almost all the journalism written about 9/11. Thousands of such words could be churned out overnight, under the same conditions of shock and dismay then affecting the public. The authorial voice is remarkably consistent across different continents, with the same sappy sentimentality and lack of journalistic rigor crossing over socio-economic and educational divides. The message always stays on point, but nothing ever adds up or develops. It's as if they threw paint at a wall and saw what sticks and nobody ever called them on it.

I suppose it's possible, if unseemly, for the anonymous writer from the Toronto congregation to have lifted long sections from a 2004 copyrighted work to include in his or her own copyrighted work in 2008, but what links the two efforts is a deeper ideology, and definable agenda.

The well spring for the synthetic narrative development known as Giuliani's wedding march is unwittingly telegraphed at the close of the Beth Tzedec page, when wisdom from the Talmud is quoted:

"If a wedding procession arrives at a crossroads at the same time as a funeral procession, which goes first? The wedding procession. We always choose life."

Giuliani's wedding performance on September 15, 2001 was as much an intersection in our emotional manipulation as any literal traffic jam the Talmud proposes. So rather than being an intriguing side note to the murder of Michael Gorumba, as Ray Ubinger suggests, the story of the sister's wedding can be situated more centrally in the plot.

Michael Gorumba, with domestic partner Lori Campbell, and their son Andrew.

Time to memorialize the dead.

News articles on the LODD of FF Michael Gorumba, with full text and links to sources.

See also: www.spingola.com

"The Naudet film contains not one reference to the Fathers' Day fire: because it happened in June, just after they started filming, maybe it just was not as convenient to a Naudet script."

Not only was it not convenient---it was highly inconvenient!

Five years later, September 15, 2006, when Giuliani was running for President, he wrote a different version of the story on his presidential blog, Giuliani Blog-On the Road to the White House, "Rudy - Now More Than Ever: Promises Kept," Rather than asking him directly, an intermediary was involved:
"[Gail] Gorumba asked New York Fire Commissioner Tom Van Essen if he would ask Mayor Giuliani if he would do the honors.

"I would be honored to do it" Rudy replied instantly."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Was the NYC Fire Department Studying the Sociological Aspects of Mass Firefighter Fatality in Advance of 9/11?

"That sort of childhood experience never entirely goes away, said William Kornblum, a professor of sociology and an urban affairs expert at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. "There's this endless fascination we have with fire equipment and fire lore," Professor Kornblum said. "So the death of a firefighter reaches us in a very visceral way."
January 03, 1996, New York Times, "Why Deaths of Firemen Touch Public,"  by Frank Bruni,

Almost two years have passed since the tragedy at Ladder Company 5 in downtown Manhattan, but Lieut. Michael Warchola still fields sympathetic smiles and tender condolences from strangers on the street.

"How are you guys getting on?" someone will ask him and his fellow firefighters as they respond to routine calls in Greenwich Village or SoHo.

"You guys do a great job," someone else will say, and Lieutenant Warchola knows that beneath that simple salutation lies a powerful subtext: that the men at Ladder Company 5 do their jobs despite grave danger, which led to the deaths of three comrades in connection with one horrifying blaze in March 1994.

Before that fire, we felt that the neighborhood was somewhat indifferent to us," Lieutenant Warchola said yesterday. "But after, you wouldn't have believed all the flowers and cakes and the boxloads of cards. It touched every one of us deeply -- to a man. And it still does."

What Lieutenant Warchola saw back then, and what he said he has noticed repeatedly since, is the special outpouring of public grief that accompanies the loss of a firefighter in the line of duty.

That communal welling of emotion is occurring yet again with the death earlier this week of Lieut. John M. Clancy, 35, a firefighter killed when he stepped inside a burning house in Jamaica, Queens, to make sure that no one was stranded inside.

"It's because a person you don't even know is willing to put his life on the line for you -- it's the selflessness of it," said June Russo, one of more than 200 mourners who grimly filed into the Raynor & D'Andrea Funeral Home in West Sayville, L.I., near Lieutenant Clancy's home in Oakdale, for his wake yesterday afternoon. Surrounding Lieutenant Clancy's coffin were dozens of wreaths and bouquets; nearby, on a small table, sat a teddy bear in a miniature firefighter's uniform.

Ms. Russo knew the Clancy family personally; she taught school with Lieutenant Clancy's wife, Dawn, who is six months pregnant with the couple's first child. But the grief that Ms. Russo expressed over Lieutenant Clancy's death had both personal and public dimensions.

That was true as well for the many firefighters who came to pay their respects and who ruminated aloud about the wide reverberations of a death like Lieutenant Clancy's.

"People are petrified at the thought of fire, of being in a house that's on fire, and I think they kind of idolize the sort of people who walk into a burning house," said Firefighter Joseph Miccio of Ladder Company 127 in Jamaica, where Lieutenant Clancy was most recently assigned.

Firefighter Miccio and others said that Lieutenant Clancy's death carried especially tragic notes. It came, they said, at a moment in his life when so many good things were about to happen for him and his wife. The expected birth of the couple's first child in April represented the culmination of years of trying and hoping. The couple also had plans to buy some property soon and build a new house, friends said.

Those sorts of details have given Lieutenant Clancy's death resonance for many New Yorkers who neither knew him nor have any particular connection to the fraternity of firefighters.

"It hurt me personally because I have a son, and I would hate to be doing my job and be killed for that and not see my son grow up," said Larry Crawford, 24, a school bus driver who lives near Ladder Company 127.

A steady stream of neighbors stopped by Ladder Company 127 yesterday, as they did the day before, to drop off food or cards or simply to express their sympathy.

Sometimes, the City Fire Commissioner, Howard Safir said, the gestures grow much more extravagant than that. He said that one businessman who wished to remain anonymous had in the last two years pledged to provide four-year college scholarships to the children of every firefighter killed on duty.

After the fire that killed three of Lieutenant Warchola's colleagues, Commissioner Safir said, a well-known artist, Michael Molly, painted and donated a portrait of the men.

This widespread public affection for firefighters is attributable in part to the public's uncomplicated relationship with them, firefighters and other observers said.

While police officers can be a bane as well as a blessing, halting speeders and nabbing scofflaws, firefighters are almost solely associated with acts of kindness. They are the ones who, at least in legend, climb tall ladders to coax cats out of tress. And they are the ones who, in fact, show off their intricate equipment and blazing red chariots to bedazzled children.

"What's the first class trip you took when you were in school?" asked Harry G. Ryttenberg, a former spokesman for the New York City Fire Department. "To the firehouse."

That sort of childhood experience never entirely goes away, said William Kornblum, a professor of sociology and an urban affairs expert at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. "There's this endless fascination we have with fire equipment and fire lore," Professor Kornblum said. "So the death of a firefighter reaches us in a very visceral way."

Related question:

Did the FDNY study the implications of mock death on their personnel and their families in advance of 9/11, by staging fake fire department fatalities? Wouldn't this sort of study results have been required to effectively enlist hundreds of departmental members into a secret plot?

Colleague's Funeral Is a Lesson in Firefighters' Vulnerability


Published: January 05, 1996

The traffic was light and the course was simple: a straight shot east for about an hour on the Long Island Expressway, with a few quick turns off Exit 62 to get to the church.

But for many of 22 New York City firefighters who left downtown Manhattan on a chartered bus yesterday morning, the journey could not have been more difficult.

Their destination was not merely the funeral of yet another fallen comrade, Lieut. John M. Clancy, 35, the ninth firefighter to be killed on the job in the last two years, grim ones for the Fire Department.

These passengers were traveling as well toward a renewed sense of their own vulnerability, toward a fresh appreciation of the flukes that decide which of them will get to watch their children grow tall and which will leave widows behind.

"It's always a long trip, and it stays with you for a good long while," Firefighter John Collins, 31, said of the sorrowful trek to a fellow firefighter's funeral. He has made it twice previously in just a year and a half on the job.

Each funeral is harder to shake, Firefighter Collins said. "The more time you have on," he said, "the more it hits you, because the more dangerous situations you've encountered, and you think back on each of them and wonder what made the difference -- why you came out O.K."

"Some things in life just happen," he added. "They're beyond our control."

That sense of an unpredictable destiny was deeply felt and widely shared among the men on the bus, as it surely was among all of the estimated 8,000 to 9,000 firefighters who arrived in their crisp dress blues at Our Lady of the Snow Roman Catholic Church in Blue Point, L.I., yesterday, for Lieutenant Clancy's funeral mass. Lieutenant Clancy, of Oakdale, L.I., died on Sunday when he entered a burning house in Queens to check for survivors and the floor collapsed.

Like the men on this particular bus, most of the firefighters, did not get seats inside the church to hear Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani praise Lieutenant Clancy as a model of courage and dedication or to see Lieutenant Clancy's wife, Dawn, who is six months pregnant with the couple's first child, rub her swollen belly over and over again, as if comforting her unborn baby.

And most of them, like the majority of men on the bus, did not personally know Lieutenant Clancy.

But they went because they understood all too well that the figure inside the coffin could have been any of them. They came not just to pay tribute to the dead but to make a promise to the living: this is what we will do for you, should it ever come to that.

"You'd want that support for your family," said Lieut. James Rosenberger, one of the men on the bus. "If you died and 10,000 guys showed up for your funeral, wouldn't your parents think, 'Hey, my son was very important' ?"

The sad but spectacular pageant staged for Lieutenant Clancy yesterday was certainly the kind of farewell accorded a hero.

Shortly after 10:15 A.M., the thousands of firefighters in the street were called to attention. They stood in a rigid, dense phalanx facing the church, their breath rising in clouds in the frigid air. Stray coughs and sneezes could be heard as distinctly as gunshots.

Minutes later came the wail of bagpipes and the beat of drums, heralding the arrival of a fire engine that carried Lieutenant Clancy's exposed coffin, draped in a red and white Fire Department flag.

Eight firefighters carried Lieutenant Clancy's coffin into the church. It rested there at the front of an aisle separating Lieutenant Clancy's family members from the many city politicians and other prominent figures who came to pay their respects.

Addressing the congregation, Fire Commissioner Howard Safir spoke of how Lieutenant Clancy followed in the footsteps of his father, also a city firefighter, and of the valor Lieutenant Clancy showed.

"He did not stop to ask if the victims were black or white, rich or poor, young or old," Commissioner Safir said. "He stepped into harm's way, because that is the life he chose."

Mayor Giuliani told the congregation: "He understood the duty we owe as human beings to all of those who share our humanity."

But perhaps the most touching tribute came in the eulogy by Firefighter Jack Acierno, a longtime friend. "John was a perfectionist," he said. "They say that heaven is perfection. If it's not, Lord help them. John's coming."

Lieutenant Clancy's mother, Geraldine, broke down in tears, burying her face in her hands, but his wife, Dawn, sitting in the same church where the couple was married 10 years ago, was more composed, even managing a weary, proud smile now and then.

When the funeral ended around 12:30 P.M., Lieutenant Clancy's coffin was transported to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram, L.I., where he was to be buried alongside his father, Edward Clancy, who died in 1993.

The men on the bus from downtown Manhattan did not plan to follow Lieutenant Clancy that far. After the funeral, they said, they would attend an enormous gathering of firefighters to eat and maybe drink and begin the process of putting what happened to Lieutenant Clancy out of their minds, so that they can get on with their jobs.

That kind of forgetting has been particularly hard these last two years, said the men, most of whom work out of the firehouse at Avenue of the Americas and Houston Street from which the bus departed. This is the firehouse where three men killed in connection with a March 1994 fire on Watts Street in Manhattan worked. Those deaths ended a period, from 1988 to 1993, when no more than two city firefighters were killed on duty in any year.

In 1994, five firefighters died, and in 1995, four.

As the bus barreled down the highway on the way to the funeral, the men dealt with their journey in different ways. A few sat by themselves, hushed and introspective.

"A lot of us practice denial," said Firefighter David Clifford, in a voice that sounded both pained and frightened. "'It's not going to happen to me.' Everybody on this bus tells himself that. But we know better."

Other men chattered incessantly, and with a cheeriness that was perhaps too insistent, about the football playoffs, the relative merits of different suburbs -- anything but the funeral.

A few cracked open cold beers, and a few even cracked jokes.

"You're either laughing or you're crying," explained Firefighter Gregg Wasserman. He seemed about halfway between the two.

As the bus pulled into Blue Point, the men saw streets teeming with other men dressed just like them.

"When you understand the hurt that's involved, you understand the size of this ceremony," said Capt. Bill Youngson. "There, but for the grace of God, goes any one of us."

All of this sounds profoundly self-conscious to me, and not in the least bit grief stricken.

Read this series of news articles about the death of Lt. John M. Clancy, to see the facts don't add up. I think somehow Frank Bruni captured the subtext behind the event, even if he wasn't in a position at the time to imagine the text, let alone report on it.

January 1, 1996, New York Times, "Searching for Victims in Blaze, Firefighter Takes a Fatal Step," by Richard Perez-Pena,
January 02, 1996, New York Times, "Parolee Faces Murder Charge In Queens Fire," by Joe Sexton,
January 03, 1996, New York Times, "Firefighter Died in Building Once Marked as a Hazard," by Joe Sexton,
January 03, 1996, New York Times, "Why Deaths of Firemen Touch Public," by Frank Bruni,
January 05, 1996, New York Times, "Colleague's Funeral Is a Lesson in Firefighters' Vulnerability," by Frank Bruni,
January 09, 1996, New York Times, "For Widow, Fire Department's Support Is a Lifeline," by Richard Perez-Pena,
November 13, 1996, New York Times, "17 Years in Fatal Arson,"
October 31, 2000, New York Times, "Guilty Verdict Is Overturned In Fatal Blaze," by Shaila K. Dewan,
January 19, 2001, New York Times, "Man Gets 15 Years in Fire That Killed Firefighter,"
by Edward Wong,

Could it really be true that two tragic fires which bookend September 11th--the Watts Street fire in March 1994, which killed three firefighters, and the Deutsch Bank fire in August 2007, which killed Firefighters Joseph Graffagnino, and Robert Beddia---both involved Ladder Company 5 and Engine Company 24?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Searchers Work And Scientists Wait for Bodies Morgue Gears Up to Identify Remains

Searchers Work And Scientists Wait for Bodies
Morgue Gears Up to Identify Remains

By Avram Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 13, 2001; Page B05

Somber recovery crews began collecting human remains from the smoldering rubble of the Pentagon yesterday as military medical examiners prepared to identify hundreds of victims.

Because many of the bodies disintegrated or were severely burned Tuesday when a hijacked jetliner slammed into the west side of the building, experts will have to use a variety of scientific methods to identify victims, physicians said.

A crew of about 75 military pathologists, dental experts and DNA scientists will be assigned to the job, and reinforcements will be called in from the military and civilian medical communities if necessary, said Christopher C. Kelly, a spokesman for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

The operation will be headed by the institute's director, Navy Capt. Glenn N. Wagner.

The examinations will be done in the port mortuary at Dover (Del.) Air Force Base, which can handle hundreds of examinations a day. That mortuary has examined mass casualties from the Beirut Marine Corps barracks bombing, the Guyana mass suicide and the Nairobi embassy bombing.

"There is no other place in this country that's as well set up to do mass examinations of human remains," said Victor Weedn, a forensic pathologist and a former chief deputy medical examiner for the institute.

"We are prepared to be able to handle in the hundreds over a number of hours," Kelly said. "It's the ideal place to do this kind of work. We're prepared to look at highly fragmented remains and to utilize the DNA expertise we have there."

Because of its role in investigating acts of terrorism, the FBI will lead the investigation on the Pentagon grounds, Kelly said. In addition to its criminal focus, the FBI's fingerprint expertise will be helpful in identifying victims, he said.

A Salvation Army consultant who worked inside the Pentagon all day yesterday said authorities set up an interim morgue in an interior courtyard. Bernie Dake said he saw about a dozen body bags brought from the debris by rescue workers and laid in a grid in the courtyard by midday. By last night, several sets of remains -- borne on stretchers -- were being delivered to refrigerated trucks parked on the perimeter of the building.

"They don't look like corpses," Dake said of the remains delivered to the courtyard. "They look like small bags with remains inside."

Dake said teams of rescue workers entered the damaged area for about an hour at a time and took 15-minute breaks. "The mood there is somber," Dake said. "Many of them are in tears."

Giant Food lent two refrigerated trailers to the Defense Department for storage of remains until they can be taken to Dover. The remains must be kept between 38 and 43 degrees to preserve them. No bodies are expected to arrive in Dover until today at the earliest.

The decision to use the military pathologists came after a behind-the-scenes tug of war with Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Fierro. Arguing that the state forensic pathologists had jurisdiction over the Pentagon's land, she reassigned staff members from three other regional offices to the Northern Virginia office on Braddock Road to prepare for the onslaught of postmortem exams.

"We're in a state of readiness right now," said Rochelle Altholz, state administrator of the agency.

But later in the day, she said the Defense Department informed Fierro that federal law calls for the military to take jurisdiction.

Kelly said he was not certain who made the decision.

Charles J. Stahl, the institute's retired chief medical examiner, predicted the investigation will be extremely complicated. Investigators from the institute will have to coordinate activities with the Defense Department, the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, several disaster mortuary operational response teams and the civilian medical examiners in Virginia, the District and Maryland.

A key advantage in identifying military personnel is that all are required to give blood samples for the institute's DNA repository, Stahl said.

To identify civilians, the medical examiners will rely more on dental records and fingerprints, Stahl said. Reliable DNA samples from civilians -- such as hair, blood or saliva -- also could be compared with remains collected at the Pentagon, but that isn't as easy to arrange, he said.

Weedn said samples should be aggressively collected from the civilians.

"It really makes sense to start going to the families right off the bat and show them they can help in the identification process by providing some DNA samples," he said.