9/11 hero reflects on rescue efforts, fallen colleagues 20 years later
Former FDNY Captain Al Fuentes shares his rescue story with FOX Business and keeps the memory of fallen first responders alive.
Former FDNY Captain Al Fuentes was one of the few people trapped and miraculously rescued from the World Trade Center rubble when the Twin Towers, the target of terrorist attacks, collapsed 20 years ago.
"Never forget, and I always say that," Fuentes said. "That's a big thing with me."
Fuentes sat down with FOX Business’ Connell McShane to reflect on that day and keep the memory of his fallen colleagues alive.
"They were responsible for the greatest rescue performed in the civilized world. I mean, over 25,000 people were saved. So I look at it like it was one of our finest days," Fuentes explained.
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In charge of New York City’s fire boats in 2001, Fuentes rushed to the World Trade Center after the South Tower collapsed. He, along with Deputy Fire Chief Ray Downey, tried to help people escape near the Marriott hotel.
"I turned up, and the North Tower's starting to come down, and I got ready for the headcount," Fuentes recalled. "I thought my day was gone."
The last thing Fuentes remembers is watching Chief Downey try to save someone.
"As it's collapsing, I'm looking at him and he has his hand up trying to help somebody come out of that lobby," he said.
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Downey tragically died working to save lives. And even though Fuentes doesn’t remember doing so, he was able to radio for help.
He left the scene with severe injuries, including a fractured skull. After his recovery, Fuentes traveled to Guantanamo Bay in 2013 to attend a pretrial hearing for one of the 9/11 masterminds, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
"I remember staring at him and just looking at him and thinking, 'What did you do?'"
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Now, twenty years after the attacks, Fuentes wants younger generations to understand the scope of what happened on September 11. And he says "who’s better than me" to teach them.
With pretrial hearings for the 9/11 attacks resuming this week, and with Fuentes still on the witness list, he says he may have to return to Cuba to testify at the trials.
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