Editor’s Note: Many times we walk past giants and never see them. Such is the case with William Jimeno of New Jersey, one of only two men found alive after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2001. As a first responder, he put his life on the line for others who didn’t survive. This Mossy Oak Pro Staffer and avid deer hunter has a story to tell that we all need to hear, remember and then draw courage from what happened. (See Part 1).
About 8:00 pm on 9/11/2001, as Sgt. McLoughlin and I were trapped under concrete in the WTC, I heard someone near the hole screaming, “U.S. Marines!” Once the two marines (Jason Thomas and Dave Carns) heard me and located the hole we were in, they stood by the hole, while an unknown civilian went to the police on the scene and came back with Scott Strauss, Paddy McGee and Chuck Sereika. Those three climbed down in the hole to me. Scott Strauss, a New York City police officer, reached me first. He said, “Hold on, we’re going to work on you.” I was so excited I started hyperventilating. He gave me some water and told me, “Hold on, you’ve got to concentrate and help us help you.” I answered, “I will!” When they started trying to get me out, a shot of pain hit, and I screamed as loud as I could, because it was the worst pain I’d ever felt. Even as exhausted as I was, I noticed Scott stopped trying to help me get out. I realized if I screamed they wouldn’t get me out as quickly as they could. Over the next 3 hours, I just shut-up and ate the pain. At one point during the rescue, they weren’t able to free my left leg, and I said, “Just cut if off.” I could see the hole 30-feet up and knew my sergeant below me needed medical assistance. That’s why I told them to cut my leg off. I learned later there were doctors standing by who were prepared to come down in the hole and amputate any limb that couldn’t be freed. However, Scott told me, “No, I’m going to get you out in one piece.”
Fire started falling in the hole again, and up above, I heard men calling to the people helping Sgt. McLoughlin and me, “You’ve got to leave them and get out of the hole. Get out of the hole!” “We’re not going to leave them, even if it means dying with them,” the men agreed. After 3 hours of the hardest work you could imagine, a stretcher was let down in the hole, and I was pulled up from the grave where I had been. As soon as I came out of the hole, I asked “Where is everything?” “It’s all gone,” one of the firefighters told me. “It’s all gone, kid.” I started crying for the first time since the start of the whole ordeal, because I knew there were a lot of people still in the towers that we hadn’t been able to get out before the towers fell.
Then the rescuers passed me down between two lines of people on my stretcher toward the ambulance waiting for me. When the ambulance pulled up to the hospital, I began crying again. When I thought about all the people who had to have been hurt when the two towers at the WTC came down, I doubted that there would be any doctors or nurses to take care of me when they carried me into the hospital. But in the emergency room, I saw an army of doctors and nurses standing around me, and I asked, “Where are all the other people from the towers?” Then someone said, “You’re it.” Once more I started crying again when I began to think about all the people who didn’t make it to the hospital. I was told later that I had eight operations in 7 days. I also learned that the rescuers got to my sergeant after 22 hours of his being buried and pulled him out of the hole.