Oral History Archives

Richard Sheirer – Former Director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management 
Richard Sheirer led the coordinated rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. A dedicated public servant, he was a deputy commissioner of the New York City Fire Department and a deputy police commissioner of the New York City Police Department before taking over the city’s newly-formed Office of Emergency Management, OEM.

Sheirer died Jan. 19, 2012. Part of his remarkable legacy will live on through the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s permanent collection. In addition to his oral history, he also donated to the collection the OEM helmet he wore on 9/11.


Officer Scott Strauss – New York Police Department
New York City Police Department officer Scott Strauss, a member of Emergency Service Unit Squad 1, discusses his role in the dramatic Sept. 12, 2001 rescue of Port Authority Police Department officer Will Jimeno, who was trapped in the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Strauss vividly recalls the details of crawling through a dark, smoky, tight crevice, and laboring for three hours to free Jimeno from the heavy debris.

Chief Robert Gray – Arlington Country Fire Department
An expert in rescuing survivors in collapsed buildings and other high risk situations, Chief Robert Gray of the Arlington County Fire Department in Virginia led his department’s Technical Rescue Team in its search for survivors of the attack on the Pentagon. The team’s skills were repurposed for shoring up damaged sections of the building to help facilitate the recovery of the victims. Listen to Gray describe working on the 12-hour night shift and his experiences at the Pentagon in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Lt. Mickey Kross – New York City Fire Department
FDNY Lt. Mickey Kross was with Engine 16, responding to the fires at the World Trade Center on September 11. Listen to his harrowing and uplifting account of surviving the collapse of the North Tower.

Adrienne Walsh – New York City Fire Department
Off duty on the morning of 9/11, firefighter Adrienne Walsh responded to the World Trade Center with the second wave of firefighters to leave FDNY’s Ladder Company 20 on Lafayette Street in SoHo. In this interview, Lt. Walsh recalls the fall of the North Tower.

Brian Van Flandern – Emergency Medical Technician
Brian Van Flandern witnessed the attack on the World Trade Center on television from his girlfriend’s home in Queens. Trained as an EMT, he made his way to the disaster site on that day, seeking to help in any way he could.

Jack Trabitz – New York Police Department
Since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, approximately 27,000 pieces of personal property have been recovered from Ground Zero and the Staten Island evidence recovery site. Deputy Police Chief Trabitz of New York City discusses the monumental forensic undertaking of the World Trade Center property operation, which includes safeguarding, identifying, decontaminating, cataloguing and returning objects to their rightful owners and to relatives of those who perished, regardless of the object's value or condition.

Francine Kelly – Nurse Manager
On 9/11, Francine Kelly was nurse manager at St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center, located less than two miles north of the WTC. Listen to Kelly speak about her role that day and the significance of the attack to the hospital community as well as St. Vincent's transformation into an improvised family-assistance center.

Deputy Chief Stephen Holl – Arlington County, Va.
On 9/11, Arlington County, Va., Deputy Police Chief Stephen Holl was attending a conference out of the state when he learned that the Pentagon had been attacked. Holl immediately drove back to Virginia and responded to the unfolding disaster site. By early afternoon, he was directing the work of the police officers who had been dispatched there as first responders. Holl and his team served at the Pentagon for the next few weeks, aiding in the rescue and recovery effort.