A ceremony will be held at Brennan Field in Hinckley on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 1 p.m. to honor victims and heros of the 9/11 attacks.
The following article is reprinted with permission from the author. Originally published in the Hinckley News:
Written By Ailene Croup
The best place to see Manhattan is from Staten Island, according to Paul Marten. That’s where he works and lives.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Marten stood on the ferry and stared in disbelief as it glided across the Hudson River toward Manhattan. The skyline was partially obscured by a cloud of smoke and dust.
Then, the second tower fell.
It was a scheduled day off for Marten, a firefighter with Staten Island Engine Company 153. Usually, he kept his radio turned down low at his bedside. It was off.
A plane had hit the World Trade Center (WTC), his wife said as she woke him.
“I thought, probably a small plane. I heard there was a good fire going in Manhattan.”
He got dressed, kissed his wife goodbye and went to work. On his way there, the South Tower collapsed.
Those hours of that day would mark the first of 400 Marten would spend at Ground Zero, the site of the WTC, until the recovery effort finally ended in May 2002.
His fire company tried to stay together. First a ferry, then a bus to city hall, people covered with dust walked past toward the river.
“Anyone who had a boat did some ferrying that day.”
Marten walked by abandoned fire trucks, police cars and delivery trucks.
“It was like walking in snow. Quiet.”
An attempt was made to organize the volunteers which took Marten’s company to the Marriott and the Deutsche Bank adjacent to the WTC. The bank had been badly damaged by the blast from the attacks and was burning.
A truck was needed and Marten volunteered to get one they passed.
Debris and dust filled the streets which were impassable in most places.
“The windows had been blown out of the fire truck. Dust blew up in my eyes when I started the engine.”
He drove the truck toward the Deutsche Bank, half on the street, half on the sidewalk.
He was treated, given a pain killer for his eyes and went back to work.
About 11 p.m. that night, the medication wore off and his eyes began to hurt.
“Not many people had cell phones back then. I had to find a pay phone to make a collect call to my wife.”
He found a boat to transport him back to Staten Island where his wife was waiting to take him home.
In the days that followed, he spent time aiding the recovery effort. He would also spend his days off volunteering, looking for remains, one little piece of DNA that would give a family piece of mind. Friends and relatives of those lost would ask for something, anything that would give them closure.
He stood by as machines he called grapplers would scoop out rubble, carefully watching for any link to human remains.