9/11 victims’ belongings tell stories of courage and loss

The belongings of 9/11 victims tell stories of courage and loss - Photo 1.

Firefighter Joe Hunter’s helmet – Photo: NATGEO

Joe Hunter, a Long Island resident, holds a business degree from Hofstra University. However, from an early age Hunter knew he wanted to be a firefighter.

As news of 9/11 spread, Hunter and his colleagues loaded their gear in their car and headed to the World Trade Center to assist with the evacuation.

When the tower collapsed, Hunter and his crew were killed. Hunter’s helmet was found in the rubble a few months later.

Hunter died about 18 days before his 32nd birthday. Earlier, when his mother expressed concern about the dangerous job, Hunter said: “If anything happens, I just need to know that you love me very much. this job”.

The belongings of 9/11 victims tell stories of courage and loss - Photo 2.

The pants are covered with ashes of the deceased – Photo: NATGEO

Upon learning of the terrorist attack, volunteer Greg Gully in the state of New Jersey (which borders New York state), quickly gathered his personal belongings and set off to the twin towers.

Gully distributed dust masks to evacuees, provided medical assistance and helped search through the rubble for four days.

Finally, after returning home, Gully hung the pants he was wearing with dust from the crime scene on a hanger, attaching a handwritten note: “Pants were worn on September 11, 2001 in Washington DC Fun the heart does not wash. The ashes are the remains of the dead. God bless them!”

The belongings of 9/11 victims tell stories of courage and loss - Photo 3.

The shoes of police officer John McLoughlin, who was buried under the rubble but fortunately survived – Photo: NATGEO

Police officer John McLoughlin and four officers were assisting in the evacuation when the tower collapsed, burying them. Under the rubble, two of them survived: McLoughlin (then 21 years old) and Jimeno.

Neither of them knew each other’s names and were lying in the rubble about four meters apart. They share family stories and urge each other to endure.

As night fell, they heard voices and were found by rescuers. Jimeno was stuck for 13 hours and McLoughlin was stuck for 22 hours.

McLoughlin was pulled out of the wreckage with his police badge and shoes on. He was in a coma for 6 weeks, underwent more than 30 surgeries, was hospitalized for months.

The belongings of 9/11 victims tell stories of courage and loss - Photo 4.

A sheet of paper with the picture of the pilot’s mother who died at the Pentagon that year – Photo: NATGEO

Pilot Charles F. Burlingame III carried a precious amulet: a prayer card from the funeral of his mother, Patricia, who had died less than a year earlier.

Rescue workers found the card at the Pentagon. Burlingame’s brother said finding the card brought great comfort to the family: “My family believes that there was a mother who worried about him.”

The belongings of 9/11 victims tell stories of courage and loss - Photo 5.

A victim’s watch – Photo: NATGEO

On September 11, when colleagues at the law firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood began to evacuate, Rosemary Smith lingered to forward calls to an answering machine, and then she was stuck there forever.

Smith was the only company employee to die in the attack. Smith’s watch was found with her remains on Christmas Eve 2001, as proof of her devotion to her work.

The belongings of 9/11 victims tell stories of courage and loss - Photo 6.

Photo of Capestro’s grandson, who escaped before the tower collapsed – Photo: NATGEO

Joanne Capestro will never forget what she saw when the plane crashed into the World Trade Center tower, above her 87th-floor office. Those who could not find a way out had to jump down, the firefighters climbed as people rushed down the stairs…

Her friend, Harry Ramos, was in no hurry to run away but tried to help a sick man. Ramos was unable to escape the tower.

For months, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) tormented Capestro. She then recovered, gradually returning to normal. When Capestro’s bag was found at the scene, it contained a scorched photo of her grandson.

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