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 25 minutes to an hour after my friend Dominick Pezzulo died, while we were trapped at the World Trade Center on 9/11, fireballs started coming into the hole toward me. I realized if one of the fireballs hit my uniform I’d be burned alive. But the fireballs were putting themselves out just before they got to me. Later we learned there was cold air coming up from beneath us, and apparently the cold air kept putting out the fireballs. I know I saw a miracle happening just above me. Finally, a couple of those fireballs hit Dominick’s weapon, and I heard, “pop, pop.” The fireballs were causing Dominick’s pistol to shoot at me. I put my hands over my face and hoped if a bullet hit that it would hit my hand and not kill me. Once the shooting stopped, I knew I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I yelled back to Sgt. McLoughlin, “Sarge, I can’t do this anymore.”
At that point, I made my peace with God and was ready to surrender my soul. I prayed, “God, thank you for 32-great years, for my beautiful wife Allison, for the 4 years I’ve been able to spend with my beautiful baby girl Bianca and for my parents who have taught me to be a good person and how to be a good American. Thanks for everything You’ve ever given me. If today’s the day I’m going to die, thanks for letting me die trying to serve people. When I get to heaven, please give me a drink of water, because I’m so thirsty. And, somehow and some way, if you take me today, let me look down from heaven and see my baby girl who hasn’t been born yet.”
My wife was 7-months pregnant, and the thought of not being able to see my second child born hurt more than any of the physical pain I had to endure. Then I closed my eyes. I was ready to give up. However, when I closed my eyes, I saw a vision - a figure walking toward me wearing a white glowing robe with no face, but with brown hair to his shoulders. Over his left shoulder, I could see a pond with trees around it, and there was a lot of peace there. Over his right shoulder was an endless sea of tall green grass waving with the wind. As I studied the vision coming toward me, I knew the vision was Jesus, and in His hand He had a bottle of water.
I snapped out of that vision and knew I wasn’t going to die. If I died, it wasn’t going to be because I gave-up. I told myself, “Will, if you die, you’re going to die trying to get out of this hole.”