When the World Trade Towers fell on September 11th, 2001, it stained our hearts with emotions for those who lost their lives. For some loved ones of the victims, little was known about the last moments of their lives until months later when some of the details were pieced together. Among the stories of heroism, there is one bone-chilling account detailed in this short film entitled “Man in The Red Bandana.”
Welles Crowther spent the last few hours of his life saving strangers. The 24-year-old was an equities trader for Sandler O’Neill and Partners, and worked on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower during 9/11. A former volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Nyack, N.Y., he was well versed in the proper way to handle an emergency. When United Airlines Flight 175 struck his building at 9:03 a.m., he promptly slipped back into the role.
When the first plane hit, Crowther quickly phoned his mother to inform her on his status. “Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I’m OK,” he said in a voicemail. When the second plane hit, he wrestled amid the smoke, chaos, and debris to help injured and disoriented office workers to safety, risking his own life in the process. Though little could be seen through the haze, those he saved recalled an interesting detail—he was wearing a red bandana.
Although Crowther saved at least a dozen lives that day, his identity remained unknown for some time. His family did not know exactly what happened in the hour before he died. The following year, an article in the New York Times changed that. Entitled “Fighting to Live as the Towers Died”, the Times interviewed the survivors who made it down from the highest floors alive. In it, eyewitnesses described the figure with a red bandana. Immediately, Alison Crowther knew she had found her son.
The family later learned that Welles’ body had been recovered with other firefighters of the FDNY. Gone, but never forgotten. Crowther’s selfless act of heroism became a symbol of perseverance, of courage and of hope in the aftermath of 9/11. Ten years later, ESPN devoted a segment to Crowther, a former Boston College lacrosse player.
It will be very hard getting through this one without shedding some tears.
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