John Lightbody, Rescue MA-TF1

John Lightbody

Any of you that know me, know I  am not a professor of the English language. But I would like to put down a few lines on my trip to New York on 9/11.

That morning on a tv in the coffee shop I saw the second plane hit. Still I thought it was going to be just a really bad fire. Then the first tower collapsed. The other John and I met at the fire station to ride to Beverly together. The other John was driving.(we were stopped for speeding before we had even left the town parking lot). Thanks to Ed, I got to go as a driver.I drove the old military (6 pack)truck. Top speed was 45 going downhill. By the time we got to NY I had cramps in my leg from pushing so had on the gas.

I was assigned to run logistics at ground zero nights. (Glenn and I)  The first ride down to the site was (I don,t know how else to say it) exciting.  All the people lined up on the sides of the road cheering us on. We were going to save people.  Well I took the first step off the bus and what I saw was not a place we were going to save many people.  I watched our members descend into the pit.I wished I were going with them.

A lot of my time was spent  protecting our cache.I did have a few times  I had to chase would-be thieves off.  One early evening I noticed a sorry looking fellow, long beard, not too clean, wearing an old turnout coat. He was walking into building # 5. Pointed him out to a couple of National Guards, and  had them stop him. He pulled out a very old Coastguard ID, I’m with the Coast Guard he said.  Well, I said (by this time I was getting a little tired ) I do not see any &$^#$5 boats here, throw him out.  He came at me, I went at him and the 2 National Guards had to break us up.  He was removed from the site. THAT was the only fun I had while I was there.

It was not that easy sitting outside while  the rest where inside doing searches.

Some of the toughest times:

  • 1st night, NY fire officer came to me in tears,  “We are digging with our hands,do you have anything we can use?”  (Don’t tell Mark I gave them a hand full of trench shovels).
  • The night a New York Firefighter came to us so tired he could barely stand up, the Doc took care of his head (cut on a sharp edge of a beam I believe then he walked back into the pile.)
  • Following nights riding back to the site still seeing all the people still cheering us on..
  • But the toughest was when the pile got quiet and everyone lined up as the flag draped remains of a firefighter were brought out.

The last night, after making clear all week that I would like to give someone a break and take their place I got to go.  I slid down a beam following Chris Standish.  He pointed to this little crevice in the pile of debris and said that is where we are going.  First I said (to myself, you are shitting me) I stuck one foot in and we got a call over the radio that we were done …out of there. OH Ya one other thing, the night Glenn and I… (story for an other day).

Mark, You asked me once if I liked  fighting wildfires more.  I loved fighting wildfires!  I don,t think I want to say I loved being in NY, but I will say there is no where else I would rather have been.

Thanks for your time,