As another anniversary approaches the inner feelings are the same as they were on that sunny day.
I was working the station that day on the rescue, just finishing up paperwork at the emergency room of a patient that we had just brought in when one of the docs asked if we had heard of the plane that went into one of the towers in NYC. Having answered no my partner and I both thought that it had to be a small plane that got off course. We never bothered to look at a tv, and just wanted to get back to the fire house. En-route back someone from the station called us on the radio and requested that we call the station a.s.a.p.. We stopped at a little mom and pop store in the West Mansfield section of town, my partner went into grab a quick snack and I called using the phone in the rig. Assuming that we knew about the first strike, when they told me that a second plane had hit the second tower I knew what it meant.
We made it back to the fire house almost as fast if we had used the lights and siren. Some of the guys asked if we (the Task Force) would be deployed, at this time with it being only a fire issue I said probably not. Then the first tower fell, in my mind I thought how many Brothers are in the collapse and maybe we would be at least put on alert. My squad leader Mike Gomes contacted me and asked for my availability if something should move forward, I told him I was all set. I then called my wife at work (she works at the same hospital that I had just returned from) to let her know what was happening. Then the second tower collapsed and no one could believe what was happening live on tv. We had different stations on the different tvs to keep up with everything. Next came another call from Mike saying we were going to NY and to get to the cache, at which time the crew I was with were kicking me out they would call the chief, then it was hugs and “stay safe” being given.
On my way home I called my wife back and gave her the update, she said she would meet me at home. I also stopped at our other house to drop off my gear and double check that the chief would be notified, and I found the admin assistant in tears and telling me not to go. Told her this (the collapse) was what we trained for and we had to do our part. At home 99% of my gear was always ready, I just needed to gather some smaller items and the hit the road. One of the items was batteries, of course there were none in the house. Plus the fact was I needed gas also, so I stopped to fill up then went to a CVS across the street to get the batteries. In line (in uniform) a woman asked if I was going to New York I answered yes at which time she put a hand on my shoulder and said “God Bless”.
The trip to Beverly was like any other with traffic on 95, in North Attleboro there was some road work being done and I almost stopped to talk with the trooper to see if I could get help to Beverly, but I didn’t. I figured high speed lane with the headlights if I got pulled over so be it. A weird feeling was in the air when en-route to the cache all the usual radio stations I would listen to were not playing music but news and updates all the time. Driving up I also wondered how many drivers on the road actually knew what was going on or was it business as usual for them. I think the whole idea of what was happening didn’t hit me until I hit Airport road and saw two police cruisers blocking the road to the airport, then coming down the cache driveway seeing the news vans and a police officer at our gate working with one of our members.
Like others have stated, I was able to say good bye to my wife but not my kids which was very hard. Prior to getting on the highway I asked the wife if I should stop and their school and see them, she said she would handle it. My son was a senior and had already known that we were going due to the ticker tape on the bottom of the tv screen while his class watched the news. My daughter was a freshman, so her classroom was not watching tv but the kids had heard about the attack in the halls and did not know about the team being deployed. She found out when the vice principal came to take her out of class and offered to carry her books to meet up with her mom and brother at the office. It hit her hard, she knew what we had trained for with the team, but going into what we were going into scared her. Enough that once we were in NYC and they had the phone lines up she would not speak to for a couple of days
It was a great honor to be part of this Task Force to go help our Brothers and Sisters and the citizens of NYC during that time in history, I wish we could have stayed longer to help, but it wasn’t meant to be. As some of you may know I did suffer some health issues years later after our time down there, but I would do it again in a heart beat to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest people I will ever know.
Take care and stay safe My Brothers and Sisters,
Bruce E. Naslund