Like most of us, I watched from the sidelines as the aftermath of 9/11 unfolded, but these two post were dedicated to the men and women who had an active role in the events that day — and in the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. Today my hat is off to these people again, and my heart-felt thanks — my respect and even awe go out to the friends of mine from from Beta Phi Epsilon fraternity (SUNY Cortland, NY) who were personally involved. As members of the US Navy SEALS, the FBI, anti-terrorism and counter-intelligence networks, police officers and firefighters, they –and all the others directly participating in this battle — deserve a moment of recognition for their unselfish efforts.
I think the following photos, taken by them or of them, tell a small part of their individual stories.
Charlie “Buff” Kerrigan was called to ground zero the afternoon the World Trade Towers collapsed. As Captain of the Rockville Centre Fire Department, Charlie was highly trained in “confined space and high angle rescue.” He and his crew labored 18 straight hours trying to help contain the damage and rescue survivors. Charlie said the devastation was the most horrible thing he’d ever witnessed, . . . and something that he hoped he’d never see again.
I know as a fireman Charlie puts his life on the line every time he goes on a call — but his work at ground zero was above and beyond. He was asked to speak at the Air Force Academy Conference to share this experience. He’s a former chairman of the Beta Phi Epsilon Alumni Association.
Bob Guzzo Sr. was also a featured speaker at the Air Force Academy Conference. A life-time Navy SEAL, a friend and fellow Beta Phi Alumnus, Bob was awarded the The Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism for his efforts at the Pentagon on 9/11. After helping to secure the area, he made repeated trips back into the burning building to rescue survivors. Following 9/11 Bob worked at the highest levels of US anti-terrorism and counter-intelligence. “It was like chasing ghosts,” Bob said later of the effort to contain the terrorist threats, and to capture or kill Bin Laden.
(A few of his military awards hang on the walls of a small patriotic study in Bob’s home –to me, he’s the kind of guy who makes you want to say “God Bless America.”)
The next two photos were taken by Mike Garcia, Bob’s close friend and fellow anti-terrorism officer who was with him at the Pentagon on 9/11. “Half of the photos you see from the Pentagon that day were taken by Mike,” Bob says. Some of Garcia’s photos are in the Smithsonian Institute and at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in NYC.
In college, Bob’s son Rob Guzzo JR. was a member of his dad’s fraternity, Beta Phi Epsilon — and when he later joined the Navy SEALS right after 9/11, he was awarded Bob SR.’s old SEAL Trident. It’s the first medal Navy SEALS receive on completion of their training. Rob JR. was a member of Navy SEAL Team 5 and went into battle in Ramadi, Iraq in 2006.
His buddy Marc Lee lost his life there, the first Navy SEAL killed in the war. Marc and Rob had gone though SEAL BUD/S training together. (In background of the picture you can see the name LEE — the camp at Ramadi was renamed CAMP MARC LEE in Marc’s honor.)
Rob Jr. made it through the Iraq war and he’s back home now. He’s pursuing a career in acting (in action films, go figure.)
A giant American flag was unfurled over the famous “Green Monster” wall at Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox) the day after Osama Bin Laden was silenced.
Bob Guzzo SR. and Rob JR. later, in a more relaxed moment . . . at the wedding of their daughter/sister, Danielle.