Memories from 9/11 and Remembering People Lost

The World Trade Center had a 360-foot mast on top of the north tower with eight main TV antennas, auxiliary antennas and a master FM antenna. Five radio stations were on that mast. Six broadcast TV engineers died that day; they had been on the 109th and 110th floors of the north tower.  Their names were Don DiFranco, WABC-TV, Rod Coppola, WNET-TV, Steve Jacobson, WPIX, Bob Pattison, WCBS-TV, Isaias Riverea, WCBS-TV, William Steckman, WNBC.  Two industry figures, Steven D. “Jake” Jacoby, chief operating officer of Metrocall, and Karen Kincaid, a partner with the Washington law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding and former FCC official, died on their way to the GlobalXChange when American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon.

I’ve asked people throughout the industry to share their memories.  Thanks to the good members of NATE who were particularly responsive and open.

Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers

Kevin J. Dougherty MILLENNIA CONTRACTING INC New Castle, Delaware

Like most Americans, I too remember exactly where I was on 9/11.  We were working on a site in Southeast Pennsylvania when I received a call from my wife who told me what was happening.  My youngest brother was working three blocks from the World Trade Center in New York.  He was able to get to a landline that was still working (no cell phone service) and was calling with updates so we packed up and headed home so I could talk to him. While thankfully unhurt, he did end up having to walk out of Manhattan that night.  We live on the East Coast between New York and Washington DC in close proximity to an airport.  The eerie quiet that evening, broken only by the occasional sound of fighter jets, is something I won’t forget.

Two days later, we were dispatched to the Pentagon with a Secret Service detail to put up a COW for Cingular (Now AT&T) who had donated hundreds of cell phones to the Pentagon so that they could communicate.  Above is a photo of the Pentagon taken from the COW.

Jimmy Miller, President, MillerCo Inc, Gulfport, MS

Office; Turned on the TV at first report….

Watched live the second plane flying into WTC, much like everyone else, could not believe what I was seeing!

One lady in my office, her mother worked in the Pentagon at the time of the attack.  So, the entire office went through a period of silence, until contact was made.  Enormous sigh of relief.  Her mom was there but was on a different side of the building as I recall.  

Don Train, Train’s Towers, Inc., Haddon Heights, NJ

Getting out the door for a pre-con on a County system install here in NJ. One of our girls was freaking out about a light plane hitting World Trade.

Got to the County facility and she called and said another plane had struck world trade.

Site walks called off.

All men recalled to shop.

All gear checked and on standby. Gas cans and generators RTG. All men put on notice for 24/7 restoration for Public Safety/Utility/ Infrastructure priority.

Check every spare antenna we had for availability for every frequency from DC to Light.

Office notified State Police/Motorola/City of Phila…..We Were RTG. 24/7/365

Called Ron Romano to make sure he had gotten out of there alive. He finished about a month earlier.  We lost about 7 engineers that we all knew.

Waited for the next shoe to drop.

Randy Scott, Texoma Contracting, Inc, Muskogee, OK

I remember it well, so strange to think something like that could happen in the US.  I forget whom in the office was first to bring it to my attention but we turned on the tv in the conference room and watched in disbelief as the events unfolded.  We had crews scattered across the country but only our safety director had flown to his destination which was in North Carolina.  His flight was scheduled to return on 9/12 but of course all flights were cancelled so he immediately headed to Oklahoma in his rental car.  Some of the other crews came home to be with their families while other stayed and completed their projects.

Pat Cipov, Cipov Enterprises, Inc., Sumter, SC

I remember being at the NC DOL Stakeholder meeting. My son, John, and I were sitting in the auditorium with many others from our industry. A gentleman stepped into the room and interrupted the speaker. He then announced the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. Everyone left the auditorium and gathered around a television located in the lobby. There was total silence as we all watched and listened. For me, it was to incomprehensible at the time. Then there was a flood of thoughts, questions, fears and concerns that took over my mind.

I felt as though time stood still. After some period of time, everyone left and headed home.

This is one event in my life I will never, ever forget.

Craig Snyder, Sioux Falls Tower and Communications, Sioux Falls, SD

Of course each of us that are old enough will never forget where we were that day when the news came in. I was driving to a meeting in Minneapolis to talk about AnchorGuard. I was the keynote speaker. I let them know I wouldn’t make it, turned around and went back home and planted myself in front of the TV for the rest of the day. The memories are still very vivid. It was a spell-binding and goose-bump filled day filled with sadness and shock.

Don Doty, Stainless, Cedar Hill, TX

I remember exactly where I was. In the office, I heard something about a plane accident in NYC. It reminded me of an article I had read about a B-25 flying into the Empire State building in 1945. Our front lobby, where the receptionist sat, was surrounded by floor to ceiling windows, internal to the building and next to the building elevators. Behind our receptionist sat 9 televisions built into the wall about 7 feet off the ground. Each TV was tuned to a different local television station. The four major networks had fairly long shots of the twin towers, with smoke billowing up and across the NYC skyline. The other 5 stations had their normal programming. First there were just a few of us watching, then more. Soon people entering the office building were stopping and looking through the glass and watching the televisions. One by one another station would add the same view of the NYC skyline. Finally all the TV’s had the same images that we’ve come to recognize. Then the second plane hit and someone said “we’re under attack” and the crowd gasped. In all there were close to 30 people watching in stunned silence. The office closed early that day and I recall getting into my car and noticed there were no airplanes, none. Our office was very near DFW airport and to not hear any planes taking off or on approach was an eerie feeling. I had never heard that type of quiet at DFW. The FAA had grounded all flights.  Our world had changed forever.

Jim Fryer, Inside Towers, Philadelphia, PA

Like everyone, it was indelible where I was that day, what was said, the unbelieving reactions of colleagues, family and friends.  We were expecting a deep-pocketed and very interested investor from D.C. that morning to our little office in Southeastern PA.  I popped for the good bakery pastries, not the Entenmann’s. As he was halfway up I-95 he called and asked what was going on.  I told him ‘Clark, I don’t know but you better turn around and go home, they just hit the Pentagon’.  Of course the world changed that day for all of us. Goodbye investor, hello new and frightening landscape.

September 11, 2017 

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