John Schroeder of Engine 10: a 9/11 chronology

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"To this day it's still really confusing to me about what really went on and how we try to piece it back." –John Schroeder, interviewed by Dylan Avery et al.

Conspiracists seem to forget that 9/11 first responders didn't immediately go home and start memorizing 9/11 trivia. They seem to think that, years later, all memories should be perfect, all chronologies exact, and all descriptions that include analogies, similes, and metaphors are meant to be taken literally. In the BBC program "9/11: The Conspiracy Files," there is a truly sad scene in which the reporter has to explain to Dylan Avery what a simile is, because Avery is desperately clinging to a few out-of-context statements to try to shore up his house of cards, and by doing so, he accuses investigators and witnesses of being liars.

The surviving 9/11 first responders went through hell. Their lives were turned upside-down, and afterwards they were busy healing, caring for their families and the families of the fallen, searching through the rubble, attending funerals, dealing with work reassignments, new equipment, new probies, medical issues, legal issues, promotion, retirement, and trying to resume somewhat normal lives.

I have read, taken notes on, and made spreadsheets to track, over 14,000 pages of 9/11 first responder accounts and about one to two thousand pages of civilian accounts. The sole reason I have done this is to put in context the accounts that the 9/11 "inside job" conspiracists have cherry-picked and viciously twisted, shredded, hoaxed, and lied about for years.

Except where noted, firefighter accounts are from transcripts of FDNY oral testimonies recorded in the months after 9/11. John Moribito of Ladder 10 and Terrance Rivera of Engine 10 were two of the interviewees. Not every 9/11 first responder was interviewed. Where "Naudet" is cited, it refers to the amazing footage shot in and around the towers on 9/11 (including the impact of flight 11 and both collapses) by Jules and Gedeon Naudet, and to the interviews they conducted with the men of Engine 7 and Ladder 1. See the Naudet link below.

Essential viewing: video inside the north tower and beneath both collapses

Although the remainder of this letter is specifically meant for John Schroeder, I will address it to the general public.

North tower impact

Ten House, the FDNY's home to Engine Company 10 and Ladder Company 10, is on Liberty Street, directly south and across the street from where the squat 4 World Trade Center was (see map below). Ten House was built specifically to serve the Trade Center complex, and also serves the neighborhood. It was damaged but not destroyed on 9/11.

As John Schroeder says in his interviews, he was outside Ten House on the beautiful morning of September 11, 2001, talking with co-workers, when American flight 11, a Boeing 767 carrying 76 passengers, 11 crew, and 5 hijackers, hit the north side of the north tower at approximately 450 mph. This happened just before 8:47. The street and plaza were covered with body parts, building and aircraft debris, flames, and terrified and injured people.

Rich Carletti of Engine 5, arriving soon after the north tower impact in his personal car, describes the scene on Liberty Street (warning: descriptions of body parts follow):

"When we passed 10 and 10, there's a bridge that runs I guess into one of the buildings directly south of Trade Center No. 2. There's a pedestrian walkway. As we passed that, we came into the debris field. It was jet parts and body parts. I distinctly remember seeing a woman's hand. It was cut off at the wrist. She had wedding ring, so it had to be a left hand, and then I looked to the left and I just saw the rib cage with nothing in it and there was just debris. At that point we stopped for a second and we heard impacts, which I guess was jumpers hitting the pavement. To our right, there was a parking lot right on West and Liberty. There were about seven cars on fire."

The Race to the Scene

About 13 blocks north of the Trade Center, Battalion 1 Chief Joseph Pfeifer, on a routine gas odor call, saw flight 11 fly over and hit the north tower. With him was filmmaker Jules Naudet, who caught the horrifying event on tape. Pfeifer, interviewed by Firehouse Magazine:

"I jumped in the car [his Chief's vehicle, with Jules Naudet]. Everybody else got into the rigs. I transmitted the second alarm for a plane into the building, into the World Trade Center. Twenty seconds after that, I transmitted a third alarm. I asked for the second alarm to report into the Trade Center and for the third alarm to stage at Vesey and West. And I told them at that time it was a direct attack."

Firehouse: "Did 10 Engine come on the air also in that time period?"

Pfeifer: "Yes, 10 came on after that. They were in quarters. They heard it too and then after I gave the second, they gave a verbal." Source

Pfeifer, en route: "That looked like a direct attack." (Naudet)

Paul Mallery, Ladder 10: "I hear Lieutenant Gregg Atlas of Engine 10 over the radio that is in the console in the house watch. He said [to dispatch] give me a 1060 and give me every ambulance you got. Those are his exact words. [10-60 is the FDNY code for a Major Emergency such as a building collapse, train wreck, plane crash]

That was the last I heard from Gregg Atlas. I though to myself 1060, that's a pretty good call. I would have said second alarm, but he went 1060."

Here's the FDNY dispatch transcript:
ENGINE 10: Engine 1-0 to Manhattan.

DISPATCHER: Engine 1-0.

ENGINE 10: Engine 1-0 World Trade Center 10-60. Send every available ambulance, everything you've got to the World Trade Center now.

DISPATCHER: 10-4, 10-60 has been transmitted for the World Trade Center, 10-60 for the World Trade Center. Source
Members of Ten House dragged injured people to safety inside the firehouse, suited up, boarded their rigs, and headed out. John Schroeder was aboard the Engine.

The ladder was out first, initially going slowly because of the body parts in on Liberty Street. It then was blocked by a limousine which had stalled in the street. The limousine driver was panicking. A police officer arrived and tried to start the car, to no avail. John Moribito, Ladder 10's chauffeur (driver), had to ram the car to push it out of the way. Meanwhile, someone in ladder 10 radioed the Port Authority police desk to find out which tower the fire was in and was told it was building one. That call took place at 8:50:04 (PAPD WTC Ch. 26 – Radio Channel W log).

A man on fire

Engine and Ladder 10 arrived in front of WTC 1 on West Street at about 8:51. As they were approaching the building, a man walked into the street and fell. His clothes were on fire. Moribito: "...I stopped my rig and positioned it in a way that I would not block him out so that no one coming around me would actually run over him, because they couldn't see him at that point.

That's where the members disembarked off the rig. They all jumped off. I myself jumped off to tend to the gentleman that was in the street. Terry Rivera, who had just gotten off that morning and took the run in with us, ran up to me and he asked me if he should go into the building being that he didn't have a Scott pack on, and I told him to assist me with the gentleman that was in the street."

John Schroeder has expressed surprise (naturally) and perhaps some bewilderment, at what caused the man in the street and others in the north tower lobby to catch fire. From the Badillo article: "We first assembled on West Street, where we saw someone burnt beyond recognition. We were like ‘What is going on here?' "

Terrence Rivera, who had just gotten off duty and was outside Ten House talking to Schroeder when the north tower was hit, rode to the scene on the back step of Engine 10. He has this to say.:

"As I got off the back -- the back step, there were a few individuals that were civilians that were outside that were burnt. There was a -- he wasn't a regular security guard. He had a weapon on him. I don't know if he was FBI or Secret Service and he was trying to put the pants out on one individual that was conscious. His pants were still smoldering. I took the can, fire extinguisher off the truck and then sprayed down the pants on the person that was still conscious.

At that time, I had asked him where did this individual come from. He told me when the plane had hit, a fire ball had shot down the elevator shaft and had blown people out of the lobby."

[The man was badly burned but survived, per John Moribito audio interview, Appleton, Wisconsin Crescent. September, 2002.]

Moribito: "The rest of the company ran into the building. I had run over to a volunteer ambulance that had arrived at the scene at the time. At about the same time the ambulance arrived, Ladder 1 and Engine 7 was pulling up. It was very quick, within the first 30 seconds of our arrival at the building."

Shortly thereafter, Moribito was asked to survey the courtyard between the two towers: "...I noticed in the courtyard that there were valises, suitcases, strewn about the courtyard. There were wallets everywhere, broken glass, and then I noticed that there were airplane tickets." I don't know if the airplane tickets came from flight 11 or from the airline ticket booths in the north tower lobby.

Captain Jay Jonas, Ladder 6, on his arrival on the scene: "It was the most unbelievable sight I ever saw, up until that point. I had been in some very busy units during my time in the fire department. I broke in, in Engine 46 and Ladder 27 in the South Bronx when the South Bronx was burning down. I was in Rescue 3, which was extremely busy; they covered the Bronx and Harlem. And then as a lieutenant, I was in the Lower East Side when that was burning down. As a captain, I was in Chinatown. I saw some unbelievable fires in Chinatown.

What I saw pales in comparison (sic) to anything else I had seen previously." Source

Below: North tower impact from the northeast, in Brooklyn.

Below: apparatus staging on West Street, at the west entrance of the north tower.

Below: after American flight 11 impact, portion of the north tower's south exterior wall with landing gear embedded, parking lot between Liberty and Cedar Streets.

Below: farther south, flight 11 tire.

Below: AA flight 11 life vest and seat cushion on roof of Bankers Trust/Deutsche Bank building. FDNY EMT Briam Smith: "So we went up to the 10-10 house...I remember there was life jackets everywhere, the yellow in-flight life jackets, and that the contrast of the yellow against all the gray, you know. It stood out."

Below: airline seat embedded in car.

Below: aircraft fuselage section near 130 Cedar Street. Deutsche Bank building is in background.

Chief of Safety Albert Turi: "So we ran back to the car and laying right in back of my car was a large object which I thought was probably part of one of the aircraft turbines. It was laying about ten feet away from the car and it was still on fire, smoking and fire."