September 24, 2001, People Magazine, Louie Cacchioli, 51, is a firefighter assigned to Engine 47 in Harlem. page 34,
December 10, 2001, Interview Date, World Trade Center Task Force Interview, Lieutenant William Wall.
November 26, 2002, New York Daily News, Some Bravest say chief's book exaggerates his role, by Alice McQuillan,
July 20 2005, Arctic Beacon, [Full Text at Prison Planet], NY Fireman Lou Cacchioli Says 9/11 Comission Twisted His Words, by Greg Szymanski,
August 7, 2009, Burnaby News Leader / thebravest.com, A Survivor's Story: Life After 9/11,
March 10, 2010, Associated Press, Room With a View … of Tragedy and Rebirth, By Samantha Gross,
May, 2010, Book Proposal, Soldier of a War That Never Ends: A Memoir of a 9/11 Firefighter, by Louie Cacchioli,
September 7, 2010, The Record (North Jersey) "WTC Steel Column Installed At Ground Zero"
Szymanski's "humble effort to set the 9/11 Commission's record straight and put the correct version of hero Lou Cacchioli's story back in the history books," provided us in 2005 with "the unedited version...as told by the man in an extended telephone conversation this week from his New York home;" and with 998 words in 24 paragraphs of direct quotations, highlighted below in blue, the onus for the discrepancies with a latter version of Cacchioli's story---told in a first-person narrative in a recent book proposal, (transcribed below,) falls squarely on the subject's veracity, and not on any failing of the enthusiastic and gullible scribe Szymanski. Hopelessly naive and probably corrupt, Szymanski was, for his time at least, the best of a bad lot.
July 20 2005, Arctic Beacon, [Full Text at Prison Planet], NY Fireman Lou Cacchioli Says 9/11 Comission Twisted His Words, by Greg Szymanski,
New York fireman Lou Cacchioli looked the devil square in the eye the morning of 9/11. He stared him down, threw him aside and walked into the depths of hell like a true hero, knowing he may never walk out again.
Like a hero, he risked his life to save others, never once thinking about himself at a time when one wrong a turn, a slight move in the wrong direction, meant sure death.
Although he survived, a little bit of Lou Cacchioli died that tragic morning in the north tower.
A little bit of the Italian boy, born in northern Italy who came to New York at the age of 10, was left behind in the rubble along with thousands of unlucky souls who didn't make it out of hell that morning.
And if you look closely, a little bit of the Italian boy can still be seen hovering high above where the WTC once stood, flying high with the hearts and souls of his firefighter friends who perished that morning.
Look even closer through the clouds and you can probably still see a silhouette of Cacchioli and his best friend, Tommy Hedsall, both proudly wearing their FDNY uniforms and still rescuing people in the north tower's 24th floor, the last place Cacchioli ever saw his friend alive.
Four years later, Cacchioli hasn't talked much about the nightmare he lived on 9/11. First, he really didn't want to talk about. Next, he got tired of having his words twisted by the 9/11 Commission and finally, the New York media basically never sought him out to get the true account of what he saw and heard in the north tower right before the building collapsed.
Originally, on September 12, 2001, People Magazine ran a few short paragraphs about the 20-year veteran New York fireman hearing what sounded like bombs exploding in the north tower.
Short and sweet, that was it. A few short words about bombs exploding, but words that were repeated over and over again in story after story by writers and broadcasters who never even bothered to talk to him in the first place.
After that, a little angry and a little disgusted, he pretty much disappeared into the New York landscape, his story only appearing in an obscure book released called "American Spirit," and his 2004 testimony given in private to the 9/11 Commission never released to the public in the commission's final report.
So, it's safe to say Cacchioli's story, the story of an American hero, is probably unknown to most Americans even though 9/11 will be forever etched in everyone's hearts and souls for all time.
In a humble effort to set the 9/11 Commission's record straight and put the correct version of hero Lou Cacchioli's story back in the history books, here is the unedited version, better late then never, as told by the man in an extended telephone conversation this week from his New York home:
THEN AND NOW
Losing his buddies, his job and his health, there was time after 9/11 he seriously considered suicide. But after counseling, a bit of soul searching and a loving family, the man who went through the depths of hell is now a happy grandfather.
Although he's finally able to cope with the horror and grief of 9/11 after four long years, the tough-talking Italian with a heart of gold, admitted:
"I still have my moments, I still break down sometimes and I still go to counseling. But I feel a lot better, a whole lot better. I have a wonderful wife of 30 years, three great children and now a little granddaughter. What more could a man want?"
And the man who almost lost it all after saving so many lives is back living safely on the "happy side of heaven," keeping close touch with the fire department he loves and vowing to never leave the streets of New York, the only life he really knows.
And like a true Italian, headstrong, independent and not afraid to speak his mind, he said:
"Nothing's going to push Lou Cacchioli out of this town, nothing!"
THE MORNING OF 9/11
Cacchioli was one of those tough New York firefighters, the kind of guy you'd like to have a coffee or beer with or the kind of guy who could talk your arm off about Yankee baseball.
For most of his career, "Tough Lou" was a Company 47 engine man in the equally as tough Harlem District. He was the type of fireman who you picture sitting around the firehouse dinner table, shooting the breeze and talking war stories about the last big blaze up on 42nd Street.
He was the type of fearless New York fireman who, up until 9/11, thought he saw it all, including the WTC bombing in 1993.
But that was before 9/11. That was before Cacchioli was thrown into depths of hell when the Company 47 bell sounded, telling the fire crew to head to the south tower of the WTC.
And like the sound of the bell marking the 15th round at Madison Square Garden, it was the last bell Cacchioli ever heard, as he never worked another day for the FDNY after 9/11.
Although it was like someone ripped his heart out on January 4, 2002, when doctors told him due a pulmonary condition from the 9/11 contaminants he'd never work as a fireman again, Cacchioli somehow still finds the strength to recall what he calls the most horrifying day a man could ever imagine.
But back on 9/11, Cacchioli was in true form, headstrong and ready to take on the blaze like he'd done so many times before. Although he readily admits "none of the finest fireman in the world were prepared for 9/11," he said never once did he think the buildings would topple, but at the same time, never did he think the fire could ever be contained.
CACCHIOLI AND ENGINE CO. 47 ARRIVE ON THE SCENE
When Co. 47 arrived with Cacchioli leading the way as the senior member of the crew, the second plane had already hit the south tower and they were told to head directly to the Marriot Hotel across from the WTC, since a fire was blazing form debris falling from the towers. Cacchioli recalls hearing radio reports of "people jumping" and when he got closer to the Marriot, the reports turned into reality.
"I looked up and there were about 6 to 10 people flying through the air coming down right on us," said Cacchioli. "It was horrible when they hit the ground, something you had to turn your eyes away from. One of the jumpers landed directly on fireman Danny Sur, killing him on the spot. I remember saying, 'Oh my God, what are we getting into?'"
Cacchioli then recalls entering the Marriot, trying to lead "the kids" as he called them, adding that words could not describe the screaming and chaos within.
"There was debris flying everywhere and it was just mass chaos," said Cacchioli. "At that point, orders were changing fast and furious and our company was directed to lend assistance in the north tower."
CACCHIOLI AND CREW ENTER NORTH TOWER AND GO UP TO 24TH FLOOR
Although the Marriot was a bad scene, the north tower looked like a war zone. When he entered the lobby, Cacchioli recalls elevator doors completely blown out and another scene of mass chaos with people running, screaming and being hit with debris.
"I remember thinking to myself, my God, how could this be happening so quickly if a plane hit way above. It didn't make sense," said Cacchioli.
At that point, Cacchioli found one of the only functioning elevators, one only going as high as the 24th floor, a twist of fate that probably saved his life.
"Looking back if it was one of the elevators that went higher, I wouldn't be here talking today," added Cacchioli.
As he made his way up along with men from Engine Co. 21, 22 and Ladder Co. 13, the doors opened on the 24th floor, a scene again that hardly made sense to the seasoned fireman, claiming the heavy dust and haze of smoke he encountered was unusual considering the location of the strike.
"Tommy Hedsal was with me and everybody else also gets out of the elevator when it stops on the 24th floor," said Cacchioli, "There was a huge amount of smoke. Tommy and I had to go back down the elevator for tools and no sooner did the elevators close behind us, we heard this huge explosion that sounded like a bomb. It was such a loud noise, it knocked off the lights and stalled the elevator.
"Luckily, we weren't caught between floors and were able to pry open the doors. People were going crazy, yelling and screaming. And all the time, I am crawling low and making my way in the dark with a flashlight to the staircase and thinking Tommy is right behind me.
"I somehow got into the stairwell and there were more people there. When I began to try and direct down, another huge explosion like the first one hits. This one hits about two minutes later, although it's hard to tell, but I'm thinking, 'Oh. My God, these bastards put bombs in here like they did in 1993!'
"But still it never crossed my mind the building was going to collapse. I really only had two things on my mind and that was getting people out and saving lives. That's what I was trained for and that’s what I was going to do.
"I remember at that point in the stairwell between the 23rd and 24th floor, I threw myself down on the steps because of the smoke. It was pitch black, I had my mask on and I was crawling down the steps until I found the door on the 23rd floor."
When Cacchioli entered the 23rd floor, he found a "little man" holding a handkerchief in front of his face and hiding under the standpipes on the wall, used for pumping water on the floor in case of fire.
Leading the man by the arm, he then ran into a group down the hall of about 35 to 40 people, finding his way down the 23rd floor stairwell and beginning their descent to safety.
"Then as soon as we get in the stairwell, I hear another huge explosion like the other two. Then I heard bang, bang, bang - huge bangs – and surmised later it was the floors pan caking on top of one another.
"I knew we had to get out of there fast and on the 12th floor a man even jumped on my back because he thought he couldn't make it any farther. Everybody was shocked and dazed and it was a miracle all of us got this far."
When the group led by Cacchioli finally made it to the lobby level, he was unable to open the door at first, the concussion of the explosions or perhaps the south tower falling, jamming the lobby door.
Finally jarring it loose, the group entered the lobby finding total devastation with windows blown out and marble falling form the walls, but strangely no people. At that point, it was either left or right to an exit, Cacchioli, the man he originally found by the standpipes and another lady going right while the others went left, a move which by the grace of God saved his life.
"It seemed like every move I made that morning was the right move," said Cacchioli.
"I should have been killed at least five times. The people that went left didn't make it out, but we came out alive on West Street."
OUTSIDE AND APPARENTLY OUT OF HARMS WAY
After making sure the two civilians were attended to, Cacchioli went to his fire truck finding Lance, the driver, who was attending to the truck and waiting for the crew to return.
Looking up at the north tower directly above, Cacchioli recalls not having the slightest idea when he exited that the south tower had already collapsed. He also remembers wondering about the fate of his crew members, the driver telling him two were missing and two others injured and already taken to the hospital.
"Next thing, we look up and see the tower collapsing. We saw it starting to come down fast, Lance running towards the water to safety and I headed down West Side Highway."
Cacchioli said he remembers looking back at the north tower antenna falling, at the same time trying to stay ahead of the huge ball of black smoke gaining ground. He then threw of[f] his mask to make himself lighter, a move that allowed him to run faster and perhaps save his life, while eventually having to throw himself on the ground from the heavy sawdust-like air mixed with glass that was choking him to death and taking away his vision.
Landing in debris, he luckily fell by the wheels of another fire truck, another twist of fate that may have saved his life, where he then managed to find a compressed air breathing mask. He then passed out and recalls waking up some time later after another fireman pulled him to safety.
"I don't really know how much time passed, but once I felt better, I quickly went back to look for my friends and stayed till I couldn't walk anymore," said Cacchioli, who began crying when he talked about his close friend. "They finally found Tommy's body in the debris about 10 days later. I went back to Ground Zero every day for a long time, going AWOL, until I finally went to a doctor and was put on medical leave.
"They were very good about it. Everybody understood. It got to the point I couldn't bread[sic]th anymore and I lost a lot of vision due to the broken glass getting into my eyes. Finally, the doctors told me in January 2002, I couldn't work and I remember feeling devastated like my whole world was coming to an end.
"I couldn't tell this story for the longest time and I have to admit it is still difficult."
THE 2004 9/11 COMMISSION HEARINGS: WHAT A WAY TO TREAT A HERO!
Cacchioli was called to testify privately, but walked out on several members of the committee before they finished, feeling like he was being interrogated and cross-examined rather than simply allowed to tell the truth about what occurred in the north tower on 9/11.
"My story was never mentioned in the final report and I felt like I was being put on trial in a court room," said Cacchioli. "I finally walked out. They were trying to twist my words and make the story fit only what they wanted to hear. All I wanted to do was tell the truth and when they wouldn’t let me do that, I walked out.
"It was a disgrace to everyone, the victims and the family members who lost loved ones. I don’t agree with the 9/11 Commission. The whole experience was terrible."
HIS LIFE NOW
Cacchioli spends a majority of his spare time hanging around the firehouse, trying to stay in touch with the department he loves and trying to lend a hand to some of the younger kids in the department.
"I talk to the kids and I want to make sure they are keeping up to snuff so they're ready if something happens," said Cacchioli, who also plays softball in the FDNY league, something he regularly did when he was on active duty. "I don't want to lose this connection because the fire department is a part of who I am and who I always will be."
Asked if he ever was pressured to keep quiet about his 9/11 experience, he added:
"Nobody has bothered me. I don't think I should be bothered. I know what happened that day and I know the whole truth hasn't come out yet. I have my own conscience, my own mind and no one, I mean no one, is going to force Lou Cacchioli to say something that didn't happen and wasn't the truth."
For more informative articles, go to www.arcticbeacon.com where donations are accepted to keep the news flowing.
September 24, 2001, People Magazine, Louie Cacchioli, 51, is a firefighter assigned to Engine 47 in Harlem. page 34,
Louie Cacchioli, 51, is a firefighter assigned to Engine 47 in Harlem.
We were the first ones in the second tower after the plane struck. I was taking firefighters up in the elevator to the 24th floor to get in position to evacuate workers. On the last trip up a bomb went off. We think there was bombs set in the building. I had just asked another firefighter to stay with me, which was a good thing because we were trapped inside the elevator and he had the tools to get out.
There were probably 500 people trapped in the stairwell. It was mass chaos. The power went out. It was dark. Everybody was screaming. We had oxygen masks and we were giving people oxygen. Some of us made it out and some of us didn't. I know of at least 30 firefighters who are still missing. This is my 20th year. I am seriously considering retiring. This might have done it.
Cacchioli is full of shit. Nowhere in the transcript of the fire department's radio communications is there any mention of a Chief Galvin manning a command center in the Marriott Hotel; or of Engine Company 47 being officially dispatched. Likewise, nowhere does Cacchioli mention Chief Barbara who headed the actual South Tower command post at West and Liberty Streets, then later at Albany and West Streets. Cacchioli and his crew were ordered to the South Tower on 9/11, but when an unnamed trade center employee misdirected them into the North Tower by mistake, what did they do? Did they make their way to their assigned assignment by making their way to the South Tower? No. They commandeered an elevator in the North Tower which was otherwise unknown to the Chief's in charge there.
We now have evidence of two distinct responses on 9/11. The official, ostensibly professional one and the occult shadow which overlapped it. Maybe Cacchioli went all the way up to the 104th floor and got his hands on one of the Rodin sculptures, an example of which survived and was photographed in firemen's hands, only to disappear afterward.
September 11, 2001, FDNY, Manhattan Dispatcher Audio Tape Transcript, Response Tape 1 Side A, 8:46-9:31,
RESPONSE TAPE 1 SIDE A, 8:46-9:31
May, 2010, Book Proposal, Soldier of a War That Never Ends: A Memoir of a 9/11 Firefighter, by Louie Cacchioli,
Date: May, 20110,
[Funny, first-page typo--is it meant to confuse the years 2010 and 2011 for some reason? Certainly wouldn't help his credibility with prospective non-fiction editors (in the real-world, that is.)]
Soldier of a War That Never Ends: A Memoir of a 9/11 Firefighter
AUTHOR'S CONTACT INFORMATION
Louie D. Cacchioli
100 Scarborough Way
Marlboro, N.J. 07746
(Rose Mt. Estates)
646 – 498 – 1076 (C)
732 – 317 – 4547 (H)
Thank you for your interest in the book Soldier of a War That Never Ends by Louie Cacchioli.
This book is a first-person narrative told by Louie D. Cacchioli, a retired New York City firefighter and 9/11 survivor who had been assigned for twenty-years to Manhattan’s Engine Co. 47. The book takes a good look at the life and struggles of a 9/11 firefighter – before, during, and after – in a way that has not been done before.
In the book Mr. Cacchioli shares with the reader stories about his extraordinary life. He discusses what it was like (from his point of view) to have earned the right to wear the uniform, to have fought some of the most serious fires New York City ever faced, and to have been part of a rescue-team that came to grief at the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Cacchioli also discusses his struggles that happened in the aftermath of the tragedy and the rebuilding of his shattered life after having lost his job due to injuries suffered at Ground Zero. He also shares from his unique perspective of having become an activist heavily involved in 9/11 remembrance, special events, and litigation against the financial supporters of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization.
( 1 )
The main body of the book is roughly 150,000 words in length. It has more than 45 photographs (some very rare), artwork (of different styles from four different artists), some unique documents, and one appendix. The manuscript also features an Introduction, Forward, and a Preface.
COMPLETION OF MANUSCRIPT
The manuscript is almost entirely complete and will be finished upon delivery of the introduction, which should be delivered very soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louie D. Cacchioli was born in Borgo Val di Taro (or Borgotaro for short), a small town in Emilia, north central Italy. After immigrating to the United States with his family at age 10, Mr. Cacchioli struggled as an immigrant. Louie's family settled in Queens, New York. After graduating from Long Island City High School Louie attended New York City Community College, where he studied accounting.
Louie graduated from the fire academy in April 1982. Then for the next two decades Cacchioli rode with Engine Company 47 and fought some of the worst fires in New York City history.
On September 11, 2001, Engine-47 responded to the disaster at the World Trade Center. Mr. Cacchioli was part of a four company rescue-team that responded to the North Tower. Louie was separated from his fire company and single handedly saved the lives of some forty civilians by leading them out of Tower 1. Moments before the North Tower fell Cacchioli was helping an injured Battalion ( 2 ) Chief to safety; a moment that was captured by a Daily News photographer. Louie was caught in the collapse and barely survived. Several members of this rescue-team were killed. Nine of them belonged to the same firehouse in the Yorkville section of Manhattan's Upper East Side and were later dubbed "The Yorkville Nine."
Due to the tragedy and injuries suffered from Ground Zero, Mr. Cacchioli lost many close friends, his health, and his career. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Cacchioli has rebuilt his shattered life. He has been active with physical therapy and involvement in a 9/11 survivors group.
Throughout much of 2002, Cacchioli took part in the project Faces of Ground Zero: A Photographic Tribute to America's Heroes, a traveling 9/11 photo exhibit. (Faces was the brainchild of Joe McNally, a freelance photographer who has shot assignments for numerous advertising agencies and publications.)
To promote the 9/11 exhibit, Mr. Cacchioli's photo was chosen to be featured in numerous advertisements which put a face on the tragedy. Twenty-six portraits of this exhibit, including Cacchioli's, later appeared in the Life photo-book: One Nation: America Remembers September 11, 2001. (One Nation spent five months on The New York Times Best Sellers list.)
The photo-book Faces of Ground Zero: Portraits of the Heroes of September 11, 2001 followed next. It contains 150 McNally portraits; those from the exhibition as well as several that had previously never been shown before. Mr. Cacchioli's photo is prominently featured on the front cover of both the hardcover and abridged soft-cover versions of that book. The American Spirit: Meeting the Challenge of September 11 was a 2002 follow-up book that featured new essays regarding the 9/11 tragedy. Mr. Cacchioli ( 3 ) was featured in that book as well.
He has been featured in several documentaries, television programs, and radio shows including the very popular well respected television news program 60 Minutes and Imus in the Morning. Soldier is not the first book Cacchioli has collaborated with. He can also be seen in the Life photo books that have been listed on The New York Times Best Sellers List; Faces of Ground Zero: Portraits of the Heroes of September 11, 2001, One Nation: America Remembers September 11, 2001 and The American Spirit: Meeting the Challenge of September 11 which also contains an exclusive interview with Cacchioli.
(One Nation alone spent more than five months on NYT Best Sellers List.) Louie was also mentioned prominently in the book Debunking 9/11 Lies by The Editors of Popular Mechanics.
Recently Mr. Cacchioli took part in a photo shoot and his picture will be appearing in an upcoming LIFE photobook that is due out in September 2011. (That book does not yet have a title.) Louie was also recently interviewed for a new book, From Battlemind to Homemind, about post-traumatic stress disorder, that is due out in 2012 by Henrik Krogh. Over the next four months Cacchioli is going to be interviewed and featured in two television documentaries.
Louie became an activist who has been heavily involved in a variety of causes including 9/11 remembrance, charities, and the World Police & Fire Games. He is also participating with 9/11 Families United Against Terrorism, a class action lawsuit against those who financed the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization. When possible, Louie volunteers his time giving guided tours at Ground Zero, which is coordinated through Tribute WTC 9/11 Visitor Center. Louie Cacchioli ( 4 ) currently lives in Marlboro, New Jersey.
It should be pointed out that there is only a small number of books that were put out by other firefighters who were also survivors of 9/11. However, of all those books, each of the authors was an officer in the FDNY. In addition to Strong of Heart by Commissioner Thomas Von Essen (2002) and Last Man Down by Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto (2003), there was also First In, Last Out by Battalion Chief John J. Salka Jr. (2005), American by Choice by Captain Alfredo Fuentes (2004), and The Second Tower's Down: A firefighter's Story by Lt. John McCole (2002). Two more that deserve mention in this category are Closure: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Recovery Mission by PAPD Lt. William Keegan Jr. and The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice by Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.
Louie Cacchioli's book is the first (and so far only known) book of this kind written by a "grunt" (non-officer). That makes Soldier distinct in this unique category and provides a very different perspective that has not been previously explored. Cacchioli has elaborated on how his book was different: "Instead of someone who was giving orders, I was taking orders. That is just one way how my story is different from the other books in this field."
Commissioner Von Essen's Strong of Heart is an excellent book. Unfortunately the role of the Fire Commissioner is not to take part in coordinating actual fire/rescue situations. Von Essen was with the mayor on 9/11 and not inside the burning towers.
Also the Commissioner's book was published in early 2002 and did not have luxury of ( 5 ) discussing the long term aftermath. So his perspective is very different. Salka's book First In, Last Out in described as a book that is about "lessons in leadership" in which the author takes his experiences and applies them to real life situations. This is a very different approach when compared to Cacchioli's. The books by Captain Fuentes and Lt. McCole did not receive widespread distribution.
The author of Fuentes's book is a creative writing teacher and the book was not picked up by a major publisher (self-published). Keegan's Closure and Kerik's The Lost Son deal with NYPD and PAPD police departments. Police issues are obviously very different from the material discussed in Cacchioli's book.
Of all the books mentioned here Last Man Down by Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto is probably the closest to Cacchioli's. Unfortunately that book encountered some difficulties. Among some of the criticisms is that the book only discusses the events of just one particular day. To fill up space, there was a lot of unnecessary description of details. Worst of all, the book unfortunately ran into controversy after it was published. ("9/11 STORY DOUBTED: Some Bravest Say Chief's Book Exaggerates His Role" New York Daily News 26 November 2002).
This book is a natural for both talk radio and television. Because of the unique nature of his story, Mr. Cacchioli had previously received extensive press coverage and continues to receive requests for more interviews. During the Faces of Ground Zero exhibit, Cacchioli's image was used in numerous advertisements during a massive international advertisement campaign to generate interest for the exhibit. His photo was ( 6 ) seen all around the world by millions of people. Mr. Cacchioli has several contacts within mass media who may prove to be very beneficial when the book comes out.
The potential market for this book is not only vast, but also expanding. It will be of major interest to anyone who is involved in firefighting, interested in firemen, or Sept. 11th. There are well over 1 million paid and volunteer firemen in the United States. (It will also serve as a valuable resource for anyone who intends to write about New York City firemen, past or present.) With the announcement of the recent death of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden, the opening of both the National Memorial (2011) and Memorial Museum (2012) at Ground Zero, the opening of the Freedom Tower (2013), and the upcoming movie (currently titled) "Kill Bin Laden" we are anticipating a renewed interest in the story of 9/11. Once the official memorial is open in Sept. 2011, officials estimate 7.1 million people will visit Ground Zero in just the first year alone.
QUOTES FROM WELL-KNOWN PERSONS
"Louie not only is an amazing person, but he has an amazing story......"
– Joe McNally (Official Photographer of the Faces of Ground Zero Project)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(See following page.)
( 7 )
Preface by Joe McNally, Official Photographer of the Faces of Ground Zero Project
Already Dead ..………...……….…………..…………………………………………...…..p.xii.
PART ONE: THE AMERICAN
1. Don't Be Afraid……………….………………………………………………………...…...p.01.
2. It's Wonderful To Be In Love…………………………………………………………p.09.
4. The Rock………………………………………………………….………………..........…..p.19.
PART TWO: THE WAR THAT NEVER ENDS
5. Year One………………………………………..…………..…….………………......…...p.25.
6. In Harm's Way………………………………………………………………………….….......p.32.
7. Life On The Edge……………………………………...…………………….….……....p.40.
8. An American Dream……...…………………………………………..……………..…..p.50.
PART THREE: TALES OF SURVIVAL
9. Devil's Doorway………………………………………………………….....…………....p.57.
10. In The Name Of God……………………………………………………….....……...p.65.
11. The Lower Depths…………………………………………………………………….......p.72.
12. One Night In The Life……………………………………………………...….………p.81.
PART FOUR: FIRES IN THE SKY
13. It's Going To Be A Long Day………..……………………………………………p.89.
14. Hell Storm…………..………………...…………………………..……………...……..p.100.
15. Surrealistic Nightmare..………………………………………..……………………p.108.
16. Death & Life………………………...…………………………………...……………p.117.
17. The Hand Of God………………………………………………………….……………......p.128.
PART FIVE: TEARS FOR SEPTEMBER
18. I Will Find You…………….……………………………………………….…...…...…p.141.
19. Special Assignment……….……………..……………………………………….….….p.151.
20. The Wounded…………………..……………………….…………………….…......…..p.157.
21. War Within………...……………………………………………….……...……….…....p.168.
( 8 )
PART SIX: REDEMPTION
23. Unfinished Business…..…………………………………………………………...….p.188.
24. The Financiers of Murder……………………………………………………………..p.196.
25. For A Better Tomorrow…..……………………………………………………...……p.206.
PART SEVEN: LIFE AFTER DEATH
26. September's Ashes…...…………………………………………....…………...…p.217.
27. A Few Comments………….…………………………………………..…….....…....p.227.
28. Observations Of A Survivor……..…………….…………………..…………p.239.
29. Why We Do What We Do……..…..…………………………………...…..………p.248.
A Life More Ordinary…......………….…………..….…………….…………………p.255.
A. Skyscraper Escape Pod Technical Reference………………………p.261.
PLACES TO SEE………………………………...………………………………...........……p.318.
A FIREFIGHTER’S PRAYER…….……………………………………………..…….......p.322.
"Rage of the Fire" by Michael J. Elferis…………………………………p.324.
SPECIAL LETTER FROM THE CO-AUTHOR...………………………...……………p.325.
( 9 )
It's Going to Be a Long Day
Just because something has never happened does not mean it never will.
There was one particular day in my life that I could never forget. It was a Tuesday. That morning, I awakened early to a gorgeous, bright, sunny, clear, blue sky.
The temperature that day was going to be about 80-degrees in Manhattan. At about 6:30 AM, I left my house in Bayside, Queens and drove into Manhattan.
It took me only about twenty-minutes to arrive at my firehouse. My tour was not scheduled to begin until 9 AM that day and I was to relieve Matt Barnes of Ladder-25 ("The Pride Of The West Side") who worked the night tour with Engine-47, because we were temporarily under-manned. The guys who worked the overnight shift were all still sleeping when I entered.
When coming in for the morning shift it was always polite to bring something for the other firefighters to have with their breakfast. That particular day I brought in with me a bag of fresh bread rolls. After checking in with the housewatch, I went into the kitchen to eat my breakfast. As I read a newspaper, I ate a bagel and drank a cup of coffee.
Unfortunately, it was a slow news day. Nothing exciting was happening. The most controversial story the paper had to report was how the New York City school system was considering a new dress-code standard because young boys were showing up to school dressed very sloppy, while young girls were dressing too slutty. Such clothing ( 10 ) was considered disruptive for a school environment. (It seemed that poor parenting, singer Britney Spears, and Cosmo Girl magazine were the bad influences that were responsible for this trend.)
At around 07:30 AM, the guys started to wake up and come downstairs to join me for breakfast in the kitchen. When Matt finally came into the kitchen, I teased him: "Matt, what time did you get here last night? Did you get here before 6 O’clock?"
That was an inside joke. Senior firemen like to stress to the junior guys that they should always arrive a little early before their tour begins so that the firefighter being relieved is able to leave on time. Barnes was groggy, but understood the joke. He replied:
"Yeah, yeah, Louie. I got here at eight-thirty."
Then I asked: "What position did you have?" Barnes answered: "Control." At that point, I decided to relieve Matt early so that he would be able to get back to his firehouse on time because he was scheduled to work a double-shift that day. I said: "Okay, I'm ready to ride for you." Then I added: "Take up! You're covered." As Barnes departed, his last words to me were: "Thanks, Louie."
On the "riding list" that morning was Keith Murphy on Nozzle, Tom Turilli in the Control position, and Steve Viola at the Door position. Lance Lizzul was the ECC and Lt. William "Billy" Wall was the officer on duty. As for myself, the senior-man, I was assigned to the Back-up position. After spending a few minutes talking with the guys, I went to my locker up on the third-floor to prepare for the "day tour."
Soon after I changed into my uniform, there were suddenly numerous voice alarms coming in over the firehouse intercom system. The dispatcher announced that a second-alarm had been transmitted and various fire companies were to report to box ( 11 ) number "8084." It seemed a little odd for so many fire companies to be suddenly ordered to one location. Something was not right. In the room was a small television set that someone had forgotten to turn off. As I continued to get ready, I noticed that on the TV was a special news report about a big accident that had just occurred somewhere in the city.
After putting on my uniform, I walked down-stairs to the officer's quarters on the second-floor. Concerned, I asked Lt. Billy Wall if he knew anything about what was occurring downtown. Lt. Wall had been monitoring radio transmissions. He looked at me, and calmly answered: "Yes. A plane went into one of the Towers." We then looked at each other with amazement.
After conferring with my lieutenant, I returned to the first-floor and found the rest of the guys huddled in the kitchen in front of the television. They were watching live coverage of the events unfolding in Lower Manhattan on Channel 5. We could see on the TV that a lot of smoke was billowing from the upper-floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. There was also lots of commotion on the street-level.
The air-space above New York City was restricted. So we firefighters wondered how it was possible that an airplane could have gotten close enough to have crashed into the Trade Center. There was no fog that day. How the hell did this plane go into the Tower? We figured that a very small plane, probably the size of a single-engine Cessna or a Piper Meridian, had probably gotten lost and flew too low before accidentally colliding with one of the Twin Towers. Maybe the pilot had a heart attack or had gotten disoriented? No one knew what to make of it.
At that moment in time there was nothing that indicated terrorism. Later we ( 12 ) would learn that a passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11, out of Boston, Massachusetts, had been hijacked mid-flight and deliberately flown into the WTC in a kamikaze style attack. The plane crashed into the commercial skyscraper and ripped a massive triangular-shaped hole approximately between the ninety-third and ninety-ninth-floors. The Boeing 767 was carrying onboard many tons of jet fuel, which turned the upper-floors of the North Tower (1 WTC) into a raging inferno.
Announcements were continuing to come in over the intercom from dispatch for numerous other fire companies to report to the North Tower. To find out more information, Turilli and Viola left the kitchen and ran to the housewatch station to monitor the Department's communication radio.
About ten-minutes passed. At 09:03 AM firefighter Keith Murphy pointed to the television and said: "Hey, look at this! Here comes another plane!" Both he and I watched in total disbelief as another passenger plane flew across the television screen from the left side to the right. The Boeing 767, hijacked United Airlines Flight 175, smashed into the South Tower building between floors seventy-seven and eighty-five.
There was a massive fireball as the plane pierced the face of the building and disappeared inside.
My first reaction was to think that we were watching a movie. Murphy quickly left the kitchen and ran over to the housewatch station to inform the others of this latest development. Before "Murf" had an opportunity to say anything, he was interrupted by the voice alarm. The fire dispatcher announced that a second airplane had indeed struck the World Trade Center.
It suddenly became obvious to everyone in the firehouse what was occurring.
( 13 )
Someone said: "Oh, my God, this is no accident! This has to be a terrorist attack!"
Manhattan had been targeted by terrorists in the past. Immediately, thoughts of how militants tried to blow up the WTC in 1993 with a truck-bomb came to mind. But this attack was very different.
A high-rise building fire is the most dangerous type of fire that a firefighter can face. However, incidents involving aircraft were not very common in Manhattan. The last time the Fire Department of New York City had to deal with a major situation, when a very large aircraft collided with a skyscraper, was way back in July 1945. In that incident, a B-25 military aircraft had gotten lost in a dense fog. Due to poor visibility, the plane accidentally crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building. (At that time it was the world's tallest building).
Half of the military plane became lodged inside the building while the other half hung on the outside. High octane aviation fuel from the plane then set several of the Empire State Building's upper-floors on fire. However a four-alarm response resulted in the entire blaze being extinguished within only forty-minutes. The Fire Department of New York had to battle the Empire State building plane crash fire nine-hundred-and-fifteen feet above street level. (That incident later became part of the mandatory training for all NYC firefighters who were in positions of leadership.)
All of us in my fire company knew that we would be mobilizing very soon.
But we didn't yet know exactly where. (If Engine-47 was not going to be ordered to the Trade Center, then we would definitely be relocated to another firehouse to cover for another fire company who was.) However, within minutes after the second plane had crashed, the voice-alarm sounded again with new orders.
( 14 )
The fire dispatcher announced that a fifth-alarm had been transmitted and that various additional fire companies, including Engine-47, were to mobilize immediately and report to the Trade Center. Engine-47 also received specific orders to respond to box number "8087"; the South Tower of the World Trade Center / 2 WTC. We were to report to the fire command post desk that had been set up in the South Tower's main lobby where we would receive further instructions.
It seemed as if nearly every fire company in the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn were being ordered to the Trade Center. Since the FDNY hadn't had to deal with anything like this since World War II, Lt. Wall gathered together everyone on duty and gave us a quick pep talk. Lt. Wall said to us: "All right you guys, we don't know what we're going into. Remember to take it easy! Stay together! Make sure that we have all of our equipment! Get gloves! Bring extra flashlights! Grab all the gear that you can carry and take it with you! Let's get going."
Following our orders, we quickly loaded our Seagrave engine pumper with extra firefighting gear and supplies. Then, Lt. Wall ordered: "EVERYBODY, GET ON THE RIG!" We then boarded our Seagrave pumper. Lance, our chauffer, was in the driver's seat. As I pressed the button to close the firehouse garage door, I realized that I left my cellphone on the housewatch desk. Normally, I didn't take my cellphone on "runs." But this was not a normal situation. As the garage door closed, I quickly ran back inside, grabbed my cellphone from the desk and shoved it into my pocket before rushing back outside and climbing back onto the rig.
With our rig's emergency lights flashing, horn blaring, and siren screaming; Engine-47 took off on its way to the World Trade Center. (None of us were aware that we ( 15 ) were about to become part of the largest rescue effort in the history of New York City.)
Our fire-engine traveled West down 113th St., turned left onto Broadway, and then right onto West End Avenue. From there we made our way over to the West Side Highway.
Along the way, a number of pedestrians, who obviously were aware of what was happening in Lower Manhattan, were waving and cheering us.
As Engine-47's Seagrave pumper flew south towards Lower Manhattan, we passed a fire-truck, Ladder-5. Matt Barnes, who I relieved earlier, was riding on the back. He made it back to his firehouse in time to be part of the response to the WTC. (I didn't know it then, but that would be the last time I would ever see Matt again.) Barnes was one of many firefighters who weren't supposed to work that day. Rather than abandon their brothers to the herculean rescue effort, many off-duty firefighters responded to the disaster at the Trade Center.
As we got closer to Lower Manhattan, the Twin Towers of the WTC came into full view. Sticking my head out of the Seagrave, I could see in the distance that both Towers were venting out massive amounts of thick black smoke. Flames were visible as multiple floors within both buildings were on fire. Without being told, we all knew that this was going to be an extremely difficult job to handle.
Engine-47 kept a spare camera in the rig to document emergency situations. As we flew south towards Lower Manhattan, Lance pulled out the camera and fired off a couple shots. There were a lot of transmissions coming in over the Fire Department radio.
Reports suddenly started coming in that many people were trapped and a number of civilians were jumping from the upper-floors of both towers. The closest that Engine-47 could get to the Trade Center with our rig was about ( 16 ) two-and-a-half blocks away. The end of the West Side Highway was already jammed full of other rescue vehicles that arrived ahead of us – Police, Fire Department, Port Authority, EMS, and ambulance. There were also police helicopters hovering above and FDNY Marine fire-boats were nearby in the harbor. As we got out of our rig, the members of my fire company grabbed our rollups. We also took with us extra gear including flashlights, a standpipe kit, an EMS kit, and additional medical supplies. Lt. Wall instructed all of us to double-check our equipment and remain calm. As senior-man and the oldest member of the group at age 51, I offered a few words of advice: "Alright guys, listen. We stay together. If you have to go somewhere, you pair up with somebody."
Then Engine-47 continued on foot towards the burning South Tower. Lance, our chauffer, stayed behind in order to attend to the rig, monitor radio communications, aid injured civilians, and extinguish some of the many car fires that were burning in the street.
As the firemen of Engine-47 proceeded on foot along the west side of West Street, we passed 6 World Trade on our right. A policeman suddenly appeared from behind a pillar. He told us firefighters to find cover because it had been reported that a third hijacked aircraft was inbound. We ignored the policeman's warning and asked him where the fire department command post was for Tower Two.
The policeman told us that it might be in the lobby of the hotel, but he wasn't sure. Engine-47 then crossed over to the east side of West Street and proceeded further South beneath the North Pedestrian Sky Bridge, (which extended over West Street and connected the North Tower with the North section of the World Financial Center). As we ( 17 ) emerged from beneath the Sky Bridge the base of the massive one-hundred-and-ten-floor North Tower appeared before us to the left. To our far right was the World Financial Center (WFC). My fire company continued walking south, toward Tower 2.
As Engine-47 got closer we could see in the windows of both Towers trapped civilians waving for help. We, in the Fire Department, were their only chance for survival. At least a dozen floors appeared to be burning in each skyscraper. There was the continuous sound of glass breaking as trapped civilians on the upper floors shattered windows for air.
Debris was steadily raining down and we passed several parked cars on the side of the street that were on fire. Engine-47 then proceeded closer toward the one-hundred-and-ten-floor South Tower. But we never made it to 2 World Trade. Suddenly without any warning, human bodies began to rain down, one after another. They were jumpers, from one of the Towers, who had leapt rather than burn to death. As they fell to the ground, many flailed about with their arms and legs waving.
BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! There were at least a dozen human bodies that suddenly struck the ground and exploded like melons around the members of my fire company on West Street. (The jumpers had landed so close that two members of my fire company were splattered with blood.)
It was a sight of absolute horror. Airplane parts, torn clothing, pools of blood, human remains, pieces of the buildings, twisted metal, shards of broken glass, and millions of papers littered the street all around us. Although it was very horrifying sight to witness, unfortunately there was nothing that we could do for the dead. Their physical suffering was over. We had to ignore the carnage and stay focused on trying to save all those who could still be saved.
( 18 )
At that point Engine-47 temporarily took refuge beneath the South Pedestrian Sky Bridge which extended over West Street. We then waited under the skybridge and used it as a shield to protect us from more falling bodies and debris. Since it was far too dangerous to continue any further because of the jumpers and falling debris, we had to find an alternate safer way to reach the South Tower's fire command post. It was then decided that 3 World Trade Center, the Marriott Hotel which lay between the Towers, could be used for cover and was our best option for getting to Tower 2.
After waiting until the coast was clear, we ran to the front entrance of the hotel. Passing beneath an awning, we entered through a large revolving door. As Engine-47 entered the Marriott, a jumper hit the awning directly above us. (The body made a horrendous loud crunching noise as it impacted with glass and steel.)
Then, unexpectedly, we encountered a group of about one-hundred other firefighters. More than a dozen fire companies had assembled in the Marriott lobby, where a staging area, commanded by Deputy Chief Thomas Galvin Sr. (of Division 3) and Assistant Chief Barbara, had been set up. Among the many fire companies who were gathered there were Engine-22, Engine-23, Engine-54, Engine-74, Ladder-2, Ladder-11, Ladder-12, and Ladder-13. Engine-47 then took its place alongside the other fire companies. Among them were many familiar faces, of other firefighters I knew, who were from different firehouses all over the city.
Galvin needed to know the exact location of the main staircase within the hotel. So he asked for a volunteer to investigate: "I need someone to check for stairs!" With my Lieutenant's permission, I volunteered. Together with a hotel maintenance worker, I was able to find the main staircase and quickly report back to Galvin within a few minutes.
( 19 )
Before returning to the staging area in the hotel's main lobby, I said to the maintenance worker: "You wait right here! I'm going to go and get my officer and assignment. Then we'll come back for you." The reason why I sought the maintenance worker's help was because I remembered that there had been lots of confusion when the Trade Center had been bombed in '93.
After several minutes of gathering information, Chief Galvin separated the fire companies by ordering all of the truck companies to move to the right side of the lobby and all of the engine companies to the left side. Galvin then ordered an officer of each of the assembled fire companies to come forward for assignments. Even though the WTC complex encompassed only sixteen-acres, it was more than thirteen-million-square-feet in size; the equivalent of seventy-five city blocks. All of that territory had to be searched and evacuated.
Galvin formed rescue-teams by pairing up various fire companies. The massive WTC complex was divided into sectors and each rescue-team was assigned one sector to conduct search-and-rescue. Chief Galvin instructed everyone that engine companies were not to travel in elevators unless they were paired with a ladder company. (The reason why Galvin gave that order was because engine companies were not equipped with rescue tools. Therefore, if an Engine got stuck alone in an elevator, they would not be able to free themselves.)
Members of Ladder-13 ("The Pride Of Yorkville") were each carrying a spare "bottle" under one arm in preparation for extended fire operation. As everyone patiently waited for further instructions, Joe Grazsiano (of Ladder-13) sensed we were in trouble and commented to me: "Louie, it's going to be a long day."
( 20 )
Another firefighter from Engine-74 ("The Lost World") commented to Keith Murphy that he had been at the Trade Center during the 1993 terrorist attack and couldn't believe that he was back. Ruben Correa (of Engine–74) used his cellphone to call his wife. Ruben informed her he was at the WTC, that he was okay, not to worry, and he loved her. Susan Correa told her husband to be safe. Ruben finished his call and then generously lent his cellphone to other firefighters in the lobby so that they, too, could contact loved ones.
Loud banging noises could be heard. Some of the firefighters in the Marriott lobby at first thought the noises might be small explosions, but the loud sounds were actually that of more jumpers, hitting the awning. A firefighter deals with life-and-death situations every day. This was something that was entirely different. We were dealing with carnage on a level that had never before been experienced in New York City. Anxious to get started with the rescue effort, Ruben Correa complained: "What the fuck are we still doing here?"
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Lt. Wall returned with our assignment. He announced: "We're going to the forty-fourth-floor, in Tower Two!" Engine-47 had been ordered to link-up with Ladder-13 and its sister company Engine-22 ("Double Deuce") and evacuate from the South Tower as many civilians as possible. We were to begin with the complete search and evacuation of the South Tower's forty-fourth-floor (Sky Lobby) before working our way up to the upper-floors.
The forty-fourth-floor was the lowest point in the South Tower where fire had been reported. (Normally it was where office workers who worked between the forty-seventh and seventy-seventh floors changed elevators.) Chief Galvin also informed us ( 21 ) that no fire command posts had been set up yet in the South Tower's upper-floors so my rescue team would be on its own.
Captain Walter Hynes (of Ladder-13) was in command of my rescue-team, while a civilian maintenance worker served as a guide and led the way. Our rescue-team then exited the Marriott hotel and followed the maintenance worker outside. Along the way falling chunks of debris were coming down around us from the burning towers. When we reached our destination the maintenance worker turned and left us. We entered the main lobby of One World Trade Center through a revolving door.
A security guard allowed us to enter and we passed through a turnstile. What we didn't know at the time was that the civilian maintenance worker had led us to the North Tower instead of the South Tower – which was the wrong building! Since the Twin Towers were virtually identical and there was lots of falling debris, jumpers, and much confusion, we ended up at Tower One by mistake.
The main lobby of the North Tower was massive in size – seven stories high. It was also a chaotic environment that looked just like a war zone. Tremendous damage had occurred to the lobby with broken glass and dislodged wall tiles laying on the marble floor. The ground was wet from broken water pipes.
There was screaming and yelling. Thousands of civilians, evacuating from the upper-floors, were pouring out of the stairwells (A and C) in single-file and onto the raised mezzanine above the main lobby floor. From the mezzanine, they were being directed by other firefighters to evacuate down two escalators and out of the building.
Many civilians headed directly below ground to the concourse level. From there they made their way underground for about three or four blocks, before traveling back up ( 22 ) to street-level and emerging safely away from falling debris. But other North Tower evacuees were impatient. They were leaving the building immediately by heading directly outside through the lobby's ground-level exits, even though that action put them at great risk from being struck by falling debris and jumpers.
They were accountants, administrative assistants, analysts, bond traders, chefs, clerks, computer technicians, consultants, dishwashers, electricians, executive assistants, human resource personnel, interns, IT specialists, janitors, office managers, receptionists, secretaries, stock brokers, supervisors, temps, tourists, vice-presidents, waiters, and window washers. Many civilians were dazed. Others were hysterical, sobbing, or crying. Some were badly injured. There were some who were bloodied. One woman I saw had burns on over half of her body. Many, women especially, had no shoes having discarded them in order to be able to move faster.
The first instinct a good firefighter has, when seeing an injured person, is to help that person. As much as I and the other firefighters of my rescue-team may have wanted to comfort those injured, we could not. We had to stay focused on our task and follow our orders. As we had to do with the jumpers we had seen earlier, the members of my rescue-team had to ignore the carnage. If a firefighter abandons his assigned task, even if it is to help someone just for a few moments, then other people could die.
In the North Tower lobby my rescue-team linked up with Engine-21 ("The 21 Club"), a fire company from Midtown's eastside which was being led by Captain William "Billy" Burke Jr. (Engine-21 arrived at the Trade Center as part of the fifth-alarm response to the North Tower and was the only fire company of my rescue-team that was in the right building.) Burke had instructed his men: "We're not going to try to put ( 23 ) the fire out now. We’re going to try to save people."
Captain Hynes led us across the North Tower lobby to an elevator-bank. One elevator that we walked past was completely destroyed. The silver metal doors were badly mangled and smoke was emerging from the shaft. (When the plane hit the building earlier, the cables for that particular elevator were severed, which caused the elevator-car to freefall and crash into the lobby.)
Almost all of the elevators in the North Tower lobby were completely inoperable. At first, we were going to use one of the stairwells. But Captain Burke was able to locate one elevator that was still functioning. Before allowing the rest of us to travel up into the heavily damaged tower, Burke tested the elevator himself to make sure that it was safe to use. Using an elevator override key, Burke rode the elevator up to one of the upper-floors and quickly returned a few minutes later.
When Captain Burke returned with the elevator he was testing, he informed the rest of us that it was safe to use. Captain Hynes said to the rest of our rescue-team: "This is how we're going up – in this elevator!" But that particular elevator only went up as far as the twenty-fourth-floor. To get to the forty-fourth-floor Sky Lobby from the twenty-fourth-floor, we were going to have to either find another working elevator or a stairwell, before walking up the last twenty flights. Because the elevator we were using was not large enough to simultaneously hold all four fire companies, my rescue-team had to travel up in small groups. Firefighter Tommy Hetzel (of Ladder-13) was assigned the task of controlling the elevator with an elevator override key. Engine-21 got into the elevator and traveled up with Hetzel first.
The impact from the plane caused tremendous damage to the building including ( 24 ) the entire lobby. There were puddles of water four- to five-inches deep. Large slabs of marble had fallen from the lobby walls and broken pieces of marble littered the floor. As the rest of my rescue-team waited in the North Tower lobby for Hetzel to return with elevator, we instructed evacuating civilians to remain calm. Then Keith Murphy suddenly yelled: "LOUIE, LOOK OUT! THAT WALL IS COMING DOWN!" Reacting to the warning, I jumped out of the way as a huge thick marble slab fell from a wall. Barely missing me, it landed exactly where I had been standing only a moment earlier. The large slab shattered into pieces, upon impact with the hard lobby floor.
After Engine-21 had successfully gone up, they radioed to the rest of our rescue-team in the main lobby that there was a light haze of smoke on the twenty-fourth-floor. Those of us still in the lobby looked at one another in amazement. How the hell was the fire spreading to the lower levels so quickly? Turning to Lt. Wall, I said: "Lu, we've got smoke already on twenty-four. That's not good."
Members of Engine-22 traveled up next. When Hetzel again returned with the elevator a short time later, it was Ladder-13's turn. Captain Hynes turned to Lt. Wall and said: "We're not coming back! If you guys want the elevator give me your control man to come up with us. He will come back down to get the rest of you."
That day I was originally assigned to Engine-47's Back-up position, while Tommy Turilli was assigned to the Control position. Because I was "senior-man" and had more experience, Lt. Wall ordered me to take the radio from Turilli and stay with the elevator until every single member of our four-company rescue-team was safely brought up to the twenty-fourth-floor. Following my Lieutenant's order, I got into the elevator with the control radio and rode up with the members of Ladder-13.
( 25 )
When the elevator doors opened at the twenty-fourth-floor I witnessed additional chaos. Several people were milling about. There were screams and yelling. A light haze of smoke was in the air. Two other firefighters, who were not part of my rescue-team, were there wearing air-masks.
Ladder-13 then disembarked from the elevator. It was Engine-47's turn to come up next. Hetzel relinquished possession of the override key and exited the elevator. He said to me: "Louie, you got it? Do you know what to do?" Tommy was a young firefighter in his early thirties and a good friend of mine. (We had gotten to know each other very well by having played together in the FDNY softball league. He was very athletic and a great ball player.) I responded half-jokingly: "Yeah, I know what to do. But where are you going? I've got no tools."
Because I didn't have any rescue tools, I asked Tommy to remain behind with me in the elevator, just in case something else went wrong. At that point I had no reason to believe that anything was going to go wrong, but we did have an entire commercial passenger plane burning directly above us, and Chief Galvin's instructions were very strict that engine company personnel were not to ride in any of the working elevators unless they were accompanied by a member of a Truck company.
Tommy then said: "No problem. We'll ride back down together." Following my request, Hetzel got back into the elevator with me. The time was 09:58 AM. Just as the elevator doors closed there was the sound of a massive explosion. The entire building shook violently as though there had been a mild earthquake. Lights inside the elevator flickered several times and then suddenly went out.
The elevator's interior became pitch black. As Tommy and I fiddled with the ( 26 ) elevator's control-panel, he exclaimed: "Oh, shit! We have no power!" The two of us then kicked and pounded on the elevator doors several times and shouted for help while hoping that the other firefighters on the twenty-fourth-floor would hear us. But there was no response. No one could hear us.
So there I was, trapped with fellow firefighter Tommy Hetzel in one of the worst places imaginable – inside a stalled elevator at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
– End –
( 27 )
September 7, 2010, The Record (North Jersey) "WTC Steel Column Installed At Ground Zero"
March 10, 2010, Associated Press, Room With a View … of Tragedy and Rebirth, By Samantha Gross,
Officials estimate 7.1 million people will visit the official memorial once it opens the first year from: "Ground Zero Hotel Wants To Attract 9/11 Tourists" AP
Manhattan's World Center Hotel, still under construction, has opened for business at Ground Zero.
By Samantha Gross, AP
Looking down into the construction site covering the 16 acres where the World Trade Center once stood, some might see a place shadowed by death.
But Cheryl Palmer sees a rebirth —and a business opportunity. She's vice president of Club Quarters Inc., the company opening the World Center Hotel — and as far as she's concerned, the property's location on the edge of the site of the Sept. 11 attacks is a selling point.
"People choose to be here because they want to be close to it. They want to feel it, they want to celebrate. They want to remember," she said, standing by an open-air patio overlooking the site. "We have a very accessible view on it."
The hotel, which began taking reservations last month, offers some rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that open directly onto the construction. Guests and members will have access to the restaurant patio with views of giant cranes, jackhammers and metal scaffolding.
It seems to be the first area hotel to use its proximity to the site as a marketing strategy. The carefully chosen name telegraphs the hotel's location to prospective guests. And visitors to the hotel Web site are greeted by construction photographs and memorial images.
The Millenium Hilton nearby offers similar views from most of its rooms — which were devastated in the collapse of the twin towers and then rebuilt in the following years. With 85 percent of the hotel's current employees carrying with them memories of working there at the time of the attacks, it still feels too soon to incorporate ground zero into its marketing plan, said Jan Larsen, general manager of the hotel.
"People are sensitive to maybe being perceived as taking advantage of a tragedy by utilizing that in any kind of promotional information," Larsen said. "We still get customers here who didn't realize we were across the street from ground zero, and they get emotional about it."
Some, Larsen said, say that had they realized the location of the hotel, they would not have chosen to stay there.
But Club Quarters is making a bet that, for many, the site of the attacks is already becoming more what it will be — and less a shadow of what it was. The scar of metal and concrete gated off from the rest of the city will soon be brightened by trees to be planted before the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Palmer is quick to note. And the public memorial is set to open in 2011.
"They will have all those mixed emotions. But I think at the end of the day what people leave here with is the rebuilding," Palmer said.
Driving up to the hotel, Greg McKinless was excited to see how close to the construction he would be, he said as he checked in one day last week.
"I thought, 'Gee, wouldn't it be neat to be up on the sixth or seventh floor and really see the work in progress?'" the Baltimore salesman said. "You could say it's depressing, but you could also say it's been nine years, the Freedom Tower is going up and there's going to be a memorial. We're looking toward the future."
For guests with the right view, the construction can be a 24-hour spectacle. The yellow bulldozers and workers in hardhats continue their work all day and night. The hotel has installed special soundproof windows that keep out much (though not all) of the noise. And dark curtains block the light from the work.
For now, the restaurant and patio are still a construction site. Most floors in the hotel have yet to be completed. The lower part of the building's shell is all that remains of the office building that was destroyed in the terrorist attack.
With 169 planned rooms (introductory rates as low as $99 on weekends and $179 weekdays) and corporate apartments, the hotel's planners would need to attract only a fraction of the nearly 4,000 people who visit the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site each day. Once the official memorial is open, officials estimate 7.1 million people will visit it in the first year.
Meanwhile, the view the new hotel affords of the site is an unusual one. With the fencing around much of the site blocking sightlines of the construction, camera-wielding tourists can be seen throughout the neighborhood craning their necks and trying to get a better look. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum directs frustrated visitors indoors, where they've set up a live-camera view of the site for those who want to see the rebuilding.
After climbing some steps in a fruitless effort to see inside the pit, Josh Rowlands said he would be glad to have a view over the site from his hotel room.
"You want to be able to see what's going on after you've traveled all this way," said the 23-year-old from Adelaide, Australia.
But not all are convinced they would want their vacation vista to include this particular construction site.
"I wouldn't stay there," Michael Meindorfer said on his visit to ground zero from Frankfurt, Germany. "To go every day and come home and see something like this. ... It's sad."
November 26, 2002, New York Daily News, Some Bravest say chief's book exaggerates his role, by Alice McQuillan, Daily News Police Bureau,
A fire chief who wrote a best-selling book about surviving the collapse of the World Trade Center's north tower is being ripped by firefighters for allegedly exaggerating his role in the Sept. 11 rescue efforts.
In "Last Man Down," Battalion Chief Richard Picciotto depicts himself as a quick-thinking boss who helped save a 59-year-old grandmother from certain death that terrible morning.
But another fire chief, three firefighters and a Port Authority cop who were trapped in the rubble for four hours told the Daily News that Picciotto had nothing to do with the dramatic rescue of Josephine Harris--and otherwise blew his role out of proportion.
"I never once in that stairwell saw John Wayne, and if you read this book you'd think John Wayne was in the stairwell with us," said Firefighter Bill Butler, 39, of Ladder 6.
Last night, Picciotto, 51, conceded he may have made errors in writing that he directed Harris' rescue.
"That was an assumption I made in the book," he said. "I don't remember specifically doing that, I just assumed it. That could well be a false assumption on my part."
Picciotto's book paints a vivid picture of how he spotted Harris, a Port Authority bookkeeper, who was struggling to escape the burning north tower.
"I matched her with an entire company, Ladder Co. 6, out of Chinatown," Picciotto wrote. "There was something about Josephine that seemed deserving of my extra special attention."
In the book, he gives some credit to then-Ladder Co. 6 Chief Jay Jonas, who told The News yesterday that Picciotto had nothing to do with Harris' rescue.
Jonas and other Ladder 6 members said they found the ailing Harris around the 19th floor, after she had walked down more than 50 stories. They had helped her down to about the fourth floor when the tower collapsed.
"In the book, he says he assigned Josephine Harris to Ladder 6 to take out," said Firefighter Sal D'Agostino, 32, of Ladder 6. "That never happened. He wasn't anywhere around when we ran into Josephine."
"It's history, and we want to get it factually correct and this book is [expletive]," D'Agostino added.
Port Authority Police Officer David Lim, who also aided Harris and was trapped in the stairwell, echoed the firefighters' accounts.
Harris - nicknamed the Guardian Angel of Ladder 6 - was not reachable for comment yesterday.
But she was quoted by the Mail on Sunday of London as saying she had no recollection of being helped by Picciotto.
"The men from Ladder 6 are the gentlemen I remember," she was quoted as saying.
"They helped me down the stairs."
Swing to freedom
In "Last Man Down," Picciotto also recounts swinging to freedom on a rescue rope over twisted debris, four hours after the collapse of the tower.
Jonas and the firefighters contend he was the first out because he was the most eager to leave - and didn't have any direct subordinates to worry about.
"He paints himself as a great athlete and that's why he was selected to go out first, and that's not true," Jonas said. "He was chosen because he was one of two officers in the stairway and didn't have any men with him, and I was directly responsible for five men in that stairway and Josephine Harris."
Picciotto responded: "No one chose. I was in charge and I did it. It was a dangerous move and a precarious situation, and I didn't want to put anyone in it."
Picciotto, a 26-year FDNY veteran, is on light duty from shoulder injuries suffered at the Trade Center and has put in his retirement papers.
The flap is the latest to center on a Sept. 11-related book. "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center" contains a passage in which firefighters are described as looting a clothing store the day of the attacks. The account has drawn fierce denials and protests.
"He paints himself as a great athlete and that's why he was selected to go out first, and that's not true."
--CHIEF JAY JONAS
"It's history, and we want to get it...correct."
"If you read this book you'd think John Wayne was in the stairwell with us."
"I don't remember specifically doing that, I just assumed it."
--BATTALION CHIEF RICHARD PICCIOTTO
December 10, 2001, Interview Date, World Trade Center Task Force Interview, Lieutenant William Wall.
BATTALION CHIEF KENAHAN: Today's date is December 10, 2001. The time is 6:40 and this is Battalion Chief Dennis Kenahan, Safety Battalion of the Fire Department of the City of New York. I'm conducting an interview with Lieutenant William Wall of Engine 47 in the quarters of Engine 47.
Q. Lieutenant, just account for us what happened on September 11th.
A. We were assigned as additional units on the fifth alarm for the South Tower. We never received a ticket for it until we---you know there was one waiting for us in quarters. We got down and according to the voice alarm we were supposed to report in to the command post in the South Tower. So we made our way down and we parked the rig on approximately Vesey and West Street. We got all our gear together. We took some extra gear, extra bottles. We took our oxygen cylinder from our EMS kit and we started heading down towards the South Tower. We made it as far as---we were on the east of West Street and we made it past the US Customs building but we couldn't go any further on the east side so we crossed over onto the west side of West Street and we made it. We made our way down the west side to the covered overpass and we crossed underneath the covered overpass which was just opposite the hotel where we were informed---we asked a police officer where the command post was. He said he thought it was in the lobby of the hotel.
So we hung out under the covered overpass until we saw it was clear and we ran into the front doors of the hotel where we were---where we met the command post, which was manned by Chief Galvin. Chief Galvin told us to stand fast while he was putting companies together. A short while later he told us Engine 47, Engine 22, Ladder 13, and Engine 21, to follow a building employee who was gonna take us to an elevator bank that still had a serviceable elevator to the 20 something floor. He told us we were going to the South Tower, but the building employee took us to the North Tower.
After we found the elevator the other companies went up and we were the last load to go up. On the second to last load, the guy that was operating the elevator told me that they wanted one of our guys since we were a five man engine to operate the elevator, and since there was only one truck. So I looked over and my control man was kind of a junior man so I asked the senior man working to take the elevator.
He entered the elevator with the last company that went up. They went up to the 24th floor or the 22nd floor, and the company was getting off. I think it was the truck company at that time because he grabbed the last guy getting off who was the irons man and he said you gotta stay with me because I need tools in the elevator.
At that time the doors closed and that's when the power went out, which what we found out later was when the South Tower fell down. They were able to force their way out of the elevator and for some reason the guy from the truck, from 13 truck, went to the right and he went to the left and found a stairwell and he was able to make it out.
Q.--Who is he?
A.-- [Line Redacted] ...Me and the other guys are still in the lobby and it was weird, because the lights went out just before the rumbling started and one of the guys reminded me, just after lights went out, I made a little remark like, "Uh oh."
The lights went out, which was good because it took one of our senses away and then the wind started. It was like a hurricane wind. Just like black stuff, just blowing and hitting us. Me and Tommy Turilli were actually a little bit more into the elevator lobby dead end corridor and Steve Viola and Keith Murphy were in the main corridor and they took a little more beating than we did.
Steve's helmet, the front piece that holds the---the metal piece that holds the front piece, was actually bent on his helmet. Steve still doesn't remember getting out of the building. He was hit good enough in the head. The wind came and pretty much after the wind stopped and the rumbling stopped, it was still black. You couldn't see nothing in front of your face.
I called for a quick roll call. I said "Count." And I could still remember Keith Murphy's face looking at me like, "What are you talking about?" I said, "Oh yeah, shout out your name," so everyone shouted out their name and we got everybody together and I told one of the other guys to hold on to Steve and I went over to the elevator bank and I got in touch with Louie Cacchioli, who was in the elevator. He informed me that he was out of the elevator. He was in the staircase and he was on the way down.
At that time I gathered the other guys together and we locked arm in arm and we made our way out of the building, which was interesting. On the way in I noticed that all the windows in the lobby were just blown out. All the glass, like the arch glass, was all blown out for some reason. I thought it was probably a good way out. Just, you know, always know your way out. For some reason that worked.
I know we had to go from where we were past turnstiles, make a right, go a little ways and then go right again and then just go straight out the building. So we locked on and there was a building worker with us and fireman Turilli was trying to coax this guy into coming with us. He said he had to stay because of his job and Fireman Turilli informed him that "Your job ain't worth this much." So he came with us.
After we got past, we walked down the lobby, through the turnstiles, made a right and we encountered a line of civilians coming down an escalator shaft and they were looking for the way out so they got on the line too.
So we made our way. After we made the right at the turnstile I knew we had to make another right. When we bumped into the wall I knew that was a good time to make the other right and after that, after we made the other right, we just kept walking straight and then it started to clear and we could see the windows and we made our way out of the---kind of the grade floor windows and I was trying to break one because Chief Murphy was going to crawl underneath and he didn't have his gloves on when he kneeled down. He burnt his hand because of all the debris right at the window, right at the outside level was still hot.
We got out and you really couldn't tell you were out. It was just as dark outside as it was in. We made our way. We went straight across West Street before we went north. We found an engine apparatus there and we pulled the booster and one of the gates just to wash our face off, because we couldn't see a thing. Just the face was burning and the eyes were burning.
After that we walked up to I believe it was Vesey Street. They had like ambulance after ambulance after ambulance just lined up. Keith Murphy and Steve Viola were hurt. Steve hurt his neck and took a shot in the head, and Keith, you know, his neck was hurting too, and as he was getting out he burned his hand.
When we got to Vesey we looked up and we saw all the ambulances so we turned left and we were going on Vesey towards---I guess towards the river where all the ambulances were lined up. That's the first point
where we saw that the building actually came down. You know, where we made the left onto Vesey, I looked over my shoulder and to that point we didn't know that the actual building had come down, because on the way in, there was a police officer, underneath the customs building, and he told us to come inside because they were tracking another inbound, which he meant was another airplane, so when the building came down we just thought---we didn't know the building came down. We thought it was another airplane that hit. That was the first time we actually saw that the tower had come down.
We got Steve and Keith into an ambulance and the guy assured me that he would take care of him, even though he didn't. They put them in collars and then as the second building was coming down, he opened the back door and he said, "You gotta run, because the other one is coming down." That's another story.
Me and firefighter Turilli, we grabbed our masks and we found another probie in the street who had just gotten down there and we were on our way back down because now the may-days were coming in. So we were gonna make our way back into the collapse site and we met somebody at West and Vesey right in the middle by the median in the middle of West and Vesey and it was Chief and he said, "We're gonna fall back and regroup."
At that time, we heard an explosion. We looked up and the building was coming down right on top of us, so we ran up West Street. We ran a little bit and then we were overtaken by the cloud and we hid behind a White Suburban. I believe about seven of us. And we were sharing---I was sharing my mask with the other people. It was Jack Ginty and Gerry Reilly from 22 truck. Then after a while, I mean it was just black for what seemed like forever. We were just passing the mask back and forth. It wasn't lifting or anything.
Then finally we just said, "All right. Let's go. We can't stay here." So we all got up and we just started walking down Vesey Street, which was still pretty black. We were just taking small little steps up and we actually bumped into a rig walking up Vesey Street. Just bumped into something and you look real close and then you find the light flashing. It turned out to be a rig.
So wandering up on Vesey Street we found a curb and you just walked up the curb and walked out of the cloud and there were two guys in an ambulance. I thought they were okay because the guys said they were okay, but I didn't know they had run. But I didn't know where my chauffeur and the guy in the elevator, Louie Cacchioli, were. So we were trying to make contact with them for a little while. I realized later I couldn't make contact with my chauffeur because when we went into the South Tower we went to Channel 2 and my chauffeur was still on Channel 1, and Louie lost his radio. Because when they switched radios in the lobby, they took just the radio. So he had it kind of around his thing and in his pocket, so when he was running---he made it out of the lobby and he met up with Lance the chauffeur, just as the second tower was coming down. So when they were running he lost the radio.
After that we finally regrouped in front of Stuyvesant High School. We all got together and they were like backing us up to try and regroup us and then we just got all our gear off. We were sitting down and someone said there was a bomb at Stuyvesant High School, so we grabbed all our stuff and we ran further up West Street and...
Oh, when we came out of the building and we were walking across West Street when we first got out of the building, we're walking across the street and all you heard was like bombs going off above your head. You couldn't see it. It was just cloudy and we found out later it was the military jets. That was an eerie sound. You couldn't see it, and all you heard was like "Boom" and it just kept going. We couldn't see 50 feet above our head because of the dust. So we didn't know if it was bombs going off or whatever, but we didn't want to stay there.
We regrouped and after---we were pretty far up on West Street. We were by that---well past that arch bridge that everyone was forming up at.
Q. Probably was at...
A. Chambers? Yeah. All the way up past this. Yeah. Past this on the map here. Pretty much that's where we stayed for the rest of the day. I mean my guys were shot. [six redacted lines] ...finally we gave all our gear to the guys that came in and me and my guys and the guys from 22 truck, Gerry Reilly, and the 11th Battalion had already tapped out, so we commandeered their rig and we just loaded up with like nine people and we left [redacted line] we came up here and we went to St. Luke's across the street. We had our eyes washed out and checked out with dye and stuff. That's the day in a nut shell.
BATTALION CHIEF KENAHAN: Okay. Thanks a lot Bill. The time now is 6:57 and this concludes the interview.
August 7, 2009, Burnaby News Leader / thebravest.com, A Survivor's Story: Life After 9/11,
Some firefighters were sitting around at the 2005 World Police and Fire Games in Quebec City as Louie Cacchioli held court talking about how he survived 9/11. One young pup of a firefighter asked Cacchioli how the World Trade Centre tragedy had affected his life.
"It screwed up my life," Cacchioli replied.
Cacchioli is on the executive of the 2011 WPFG in New York which will be held to honour the 10th anniversary of 9/11. He's in town for the 2009 Games to register participants for two years from now, to support FDNY teams, to represent the 343 fellow firefighters lost in 9/11 and to soak in the firehall-type camaraderie that he doesn't get on a daily basis.
Sept. 11, 2001 was his last day on the job.
Cacchioli's family immigrated from Italy to Queens, N.Y., when he was 10. He went on to graduate from the fire academy in April 1982, after which he was assigned to Engine Company 47 in Harlem. Nearly two decades later he was still at Engine 47 when they were dispatched to the south tower.
When they got there they found around 10 or more people who had jumped from the towers lying dead on the ground. It was so chaotic they were forced to take cover in the nearby Marriott Hotel.
Chief Thomas Glavin directed Engine 47 and three other companies to go to the 44th floor of the north tower and start bringing people down because it was no longer a matter of putting a fire out, it had become a massive rescue operation.
He got on an elevator to the 24th floor with partner Thomas Hetzel of the 13th Truck and his company. The plan was for Cacchioli to take the elevator back down to get his company, but as the 13th Truck emptied out he said to Hetzel, "Where are you going, Tommy?"
"I'm going with them, Louie."
"No you're not," said Cacchioli. "I don’t have any tools if I get stuck in the elevator."
"I'll stay with you," promised Hetzel.
As soon as the door closed there was a huge explosion. What they didn't know was the big boom was caused by the other tower collapsing. What they did know was the power to the elevator had been knocked out.
They managed to wrench the elevator doors open and headed for the nearest staircase. It was clogged with firefighters and civilians. He couldn't move and couldn't find Tommy, so Cacchioli exited at the 23rd floor.
Cacchioli never saw Tommy again. These days he wears a simple metal bracelet with Thomas Hetzel and 09/11/01 on it.
"I don't leave the house without this," says Cacchioli as he watches the FDNY soccer team play a Vancouver Firefighters side at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West. "I forgot to put it on one morning, and I drove right back home and put this on. I feel like this is my guardian angel. If I leave without it I feel like something's going to happen to me."
About 40 to 50 people were in the 23rd floor's lobby area confused about what to do. Cacchioli found another staircase that was less crowded. One problem, it was pitch black, but Cacchioli gathered the group up anyway and led them down the darkened staircase.
Finally, they reached the bottom. Safety, as well as light, was in sight. But the door was jammed. No matter what Cacchioli did, it wouldn't open. Some of the civilians came to his aid and finally the door relented.
When he was outside, Cacchioli caught up to "my chauffeur," a firefighter who drives the truck. As they were talking they turned around and realized the antennae of the tower they'd just come out of was disappearing. The "chauffeur" ran toward the Hudson River. Cacchioli hightailed north between two fire trucks.
He ran as hard as he could. But it wasn't enough. So he started divesting himself of equipment that might weigh him down. He even threw his mask away to make himself lighter.
Not a good move.
Soon, Cacchioli felt like he was running through sawdust. He couldn't see. Or breathe. He began to feel light-headed and thought he was about to pass out. Firefighters are taught if that's the case then they should hit the ground, so he did.
As he crawled around he was crying, thinking of his family. Miraculously he came across a mask abandoned by another firefighter. Another 15 seconds, he figures, and he wouldn't have made it. He put it to his face hearing all kinds of noises. It bought him a tiny bit of time, a precious commodity in such a dire situation. He eventually passed out. When he woke up he was on the side of the road with paramedics working on him.
Five times something happened that meant life instead of death for Cacchioli—Engine 47 getting sidetracked to the north tower, switching stairwells, getting the jammed door open, choosing to run north instead of toward the Hudson River (the chauffeur didn't survive), and finding a mask while on his hands and knees.
Those moments saved his life, but they also haunted him.
For the next few days Cacchioli was in denial. He kept going down to Ground Zero looking for survivors, only going home to catch a couple hours sleep at a time. But all they found was body parts. Eventually he realized "my brothers aren't coming back."
He had a problem with surviving. A big problem.
"I didn't want to live. I had road rage. I was a bitter man. I was a nasty person. I was a whole different person," says Cacchioli.
A few months later, Cacchioli went to the doctor who told him the lung and heart damage he'd suffered meant he could never be a full-duty firefighter again.
"I felt like my legs were taken out from under me. I couldn’t even find my way home. I lived about 30 minutes away, and I got off at the wrong exit. I was a (expletive deleted) mess," says Cacchioli, wearing an Engine 47 shirt.
"I lost my buddies, I lost my job, I lost my health. It came to the point I didn't want to live no more."
Although he won't go into details, 9/11 affected his family almost as much as him. He and his wife of 34 years have three children, two granddaughters and a brand-new grandson. He starts to choke up when he's asked about them.
"That's a whole different chapter. What happens with firefighters is we forget about our family. We worry about everybody else, but we don't take care of home sometimes. I put them through some tough times by not listening to them."
At first, Cacchioli was too macho to believe counseling would work.
"I thought I knew everything before 9/11 working in Harlem. But 9/11 was a whole different experience."
After going through at least six counselors he went to one that hit him with "I know what you're thinking. How could your family do this to you?"
"He woke me up," says Cacchioli. "You have to go for counselling. But the thing is you have to find the right person to make the connection."
Now he's a big booster of counseling for firefighters, or anyone, going through something traumatic. He tells firefighters to talk to somebody when they're going through a difficult time. Prior to 9/11 he lost two buddies, including one he grew up with, who killed themselves because they were going through a divorce. He believes they would have benefited from counseling, too.
Along with being a tour guide at Ground Zero and giving talks about his experiences, every Tuesday he goes to a survivor's group meeting.
"It's like being in a kitchen in the firehouse. We're talking about everything and it's great."
After 9/11 Cacchioli constantly asked himself, "Why did God save me? What did I do? Why do I deserve to be here?"
He's asking these questions less now. He wants to be alive because people tell him God saved him for a reason; to help people out and be there for his family.
"I would have missed a whole lot if I decided to ... " says Cacchioli as his voice trails off. "Am I still suffering? Yeah, I'm still suffering. Are there people out there worse than me? One hundred per cent. But I bless every day that comes now. I want to live and I want to make a difference."
Cacchioli, 59, participated in basketball in the last two WPFGs, but a bum knee prevented him from playing this year. He plans, however, to participate in the over-60 category in 2011 though. The Games help him heal and give him a platform to help other emergency personnel.
"These are the fantastic times, coming out here meeting wonderful people. I've got lifetime friends here now."
A lot happened to Cacchioli in the four years between 9/11 and when a young firefighter in Quebec City asked him how the event changed his life. But a lot has happened in the last four years, too.
Today, the answer would be different from 2005.
"My life has changed dramatically," says Cacchioli. "I don't know if I'd used the word screwed up any more. But, you know what, I'm dealing with it a lot better. It definitely screwed up my life, but it's getting a lot better."
A story of an angel
Louie Cacchioli was having dinner after spending the day signing up registrants for the 2011 World Police and Fire Games in New York when someone said, "I know who you are."
Cacchioli, a retired New York firefighter and survivor of 9/11 in town for the 2009 WPFG as a member of the 2011 Games executive board, turned around to see who it was.
"I met you in Adelaide (at the 2007 WPFG)," said the man.
"Nice to see you again," replied Cacchioli.
"I was really touched by your story," the man said.
The man was from Kentucky and after some chit-chat he told Cacchioli he wanted to give him something because the FDNY hero had given him something two years ago, likely a pin or a bracelet. Cacchioli figured he’d be getting a pin in return.
The Kentuckian pulled something out of his pocket. It was a little egg-shaped transparent bauble with an angel in it.
"I carry this with me every day and I want to give it to you."
"You carry this with you all the time? I can't take this."
But the man insisted.
"I had to take it, I felt bad. I was really touched by it," said Cacchioli this week as he pulled it out of his pocket where it remained during the Games as Cacchioli went from event to event.
"It just goes to show you the people there are in this world."
The 'new normal' in a post-9/11 world
As chaplain for the Fire Department of New York, Rev. Msgr. John Delendick is required to respond to pages for three-alarm fires or more. When his pager went off on Sept. 11, 2001 it was for a disaster that was immediately five alarms for each side of the building.
In the aftermath, he went to countless funerals and memorial services. He was at the beginning of almost every survivor support group set up by FDNY members.
"It used to be before 9/11 people asked how you were you could say, 'I'm OK, I'm normal.' Well, what does that mean? Afterward you're living your life but it's a new normal," says Delendick in between lending his support to the FDNY soccer and ice hockey teams. "For example my new normal, underneath my normal look is a layer of sadness and certain things and certain memories trigger that layer.
"That's my new way of being normal, and you learn to live with it because you know you're not going to get rid of it. This is the way I am."