MONTGOMERY – FDNY Deputy Chief Jay Jonas, a Goshen resident, shared his story of being one of the 22 survivors in the North Tower of the World Trade Center when it fell on September 11, 2001.
At the county’s 17th annual Patriot’s Day ceremony held Wednesday in Thomas Bull Memorial Park’s Arboretum, Jonas recounted the memory from that day to over 100 attendees.
Jonas was a member of Ladder Company 6 and had been a 22-year FDNY veteran at the time. FDNY responders had entered the North Tower to conduct search and rescue. Their plan was to make their way up to the 90th floor and work their way down, but they never made it there. His company was stopped before reaching the 30th floor when the South Tower fell and the North Tower began to collapse. As they made their way back down, with an injured woman in tow, the top of the building collapsed in on itself, leaving them trapped for over four hours before enough debris was cleared for them to escape.
Jonas said before the collapse, he heard through the radio many other firefighters who were on the upper floors attending to wounded civilians. None of those individuals above them survived. He said remembering these people is the reason having ceremonies is so important, so the memory of their deeds never perishes.
“Two words: never forget and never forget means never forgetting,” said Jonas. “Having ceremonies, such as this, to honor those that have passed on that horrific day where we all got really scared for our own lives and safety, not just the fireman – everybody. If somebody was living in Montgomery, I’m sure they were terrified. It touched everybody in a really profound way.”
Orange County Veteran Services Director Christian Farrell said Patriots’ Day is especially important to the county and rest of the state because of how close to home the attack was. The response to Jonas’ story and the turnout of the ceremony proves that people have not forgotten, he said.
“I think its obvious people haven’t forgotten, nor will they ever, but just by the turnout of the folks here tonight – the crowd is large and I thought the guest speaker was really captivating,” said Farrell. “He had some story to tell, so once again, it was a special night.”
Forty-four Orange County residents lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks; they were honored during the ceremony, as they are every year, along with those residents who served in the military since 9/11 and had also lost their lives protecting the country.