Remembering the September 11th, 2001 Terror Attacks – 18 Years Later

It’s 8:45 EST, a minute before my life changed 18 years ago.

I want to stop the clock, but I can’t. Just like my life, it will change and I will have to face the memories again.

18 years ago it was just another September 11th, now it is a day that is etched into my brain until I draw my last breath.

My wife reminded me last night that on September 10th we had been watching Monday Night Football. My (formerly beloved) Giant’s lost to the Denver Broncos. We’d stayed up late to watch, even though I had election duty the next day. What should have been a day spent bitching about my team, would soon turn into a nightmare that I am forever trapped in.

I often wonder if people look at us and think, ‘why can’t they just move on?’

The simple answer is that we live with the aftermath of September 11th every day.

That morning, we lost 23 members of the NYPD, but since then we have lost over 240 and the reality for us is that this number will only grow. Most cannot fathom what we were exposed to, as the videos do not do it justice. For those of us who were there, we know what was in the air and what we were exposed to. I have never understood why the government lied, when they said, ‘the air is safe.’ Walking into Ground Zero we all knew that it wasn’t and it didn’t stop us from doing our job.

The other reason is that we do not have any closure.

On the morning of December 7th, 1941, America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. There were over two thousand deaths and over one thousand wounded. It was the worst attack America had ever faced from an enemy. On August 15th, 1945, less than 5 years after the attack, Japan surrendered. While it didn’t bring back those we lost, there was some measure of closure. We’d been attacked and we brought our enemy to their knees.

18 years later and we are still fighting this war and there is no end in sight.

Last night, minutes into the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, our embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan was attacked; a stark reminder that our enemy has not surrendered and is alive and well.

On the morning of September 11th, we lost almost three thousand people, in the 18 years that have passed, we have lost nearly the same amount to the toxins they ingested either fleeing from or responding to the attack. Yet, when I have had occasion to speak on this topic, most have no idea.

They have no idea because there is little coverage of those numbers. It is America’s dirty little secret. They don’t know the staggering amount of people that continue to die, almost every day, nor the fact that, for many families of the original victims, there is no closure because, 18 years later, their loved ones have still not been identified.

Many, like me, feel as if we have been relegated to history and the recent fight to renew the VCF is a poignant reminder.

  • Rather than do what they promised to do, which was Never Forget, the 9/11 victims had to plead, threaten, and embarrass many in Congress to renew the funding; the very same politicians who get in front of any camera they can, on the anniversary of the attack, to pontificate to the rest of us about, ‘not forgetting.’

  • Rather than point a finger at our enemy, and call them out for the cowards they are, we look away, afraid to offend anyone. Even today, the NY Times posted an article about how, ‘planes took aim and brought down the World Trade Center.’ Unless we have sentient airliners, I’m pretty sure there were Islamic terrorists who aimed them at their targets.

  • Rather than stand tall and call it what it was, a terror attack, many in politics and the media have chosen to white wash it. Or, as one Congressperson insensitively put it, “Some people did something.”

18 years ago today, I stood next to my old partner, NYPD Lieutenant Paul Murphy, as we helped rescue and evacuate people from Ground Zero. On January 4th, 2018, Paul died from the 9/11 illnesses he had battled. Paul was a great cop, a loving husband & father, and a dear friend. I remember when I called him to tell him I had been diagnosed with 9/11 cancer. Even though he was fighting his own battle, he immediately counseled me on what I needed to do to get taken care of. I lost him only days later.

Paul, and all of my brothers and sisters who have fought and lost their battles, are my heroes. They exemplify the NYPD Motto: Fidelis Ad Mortem.

Today I remember them and all they sacrificed that fateful day. I just wish we could set our clocks back to September 12th and live our lives with that same level of commitment, respect, and appreciation.

Never Forget - “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.”

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GLASS CASTLE - Pre-Order

The release date for the latest James Maguire NYPD novel: GLASS CASTLE, is officially set for Friday, August 23rd,  2019.

The pre-order option is now available on my Amazon webpage.

If you haven’t had the chance to catch up on the series you still have plenty of time. All my books are available over at Amazon.

GLASS CASTLE picks up nearly a year after Knight Fall (and roughly 6 months since Brooklyn Bounce, for those reading my books in order). Maguire has grudgingly accepted his new role as NYPD Police Commissioner, but soon finds himself questioning his decision when he is thrust into the middle of an investigation that threatens the very underpinnings of the city. As the case heats up, Maguire soon finds himself wondering who he can trust and reaching out to his past for help, but will that help come at a price?

If you are looking to sink your teeth into a great police procedural series, and would like to find out the order in which to read them, you can find the chronological listing HERE.

I want to thank all of you who have been so patient with this process; I know that it took a long time and I hope that you will enjoy the latest continuation of the Maguire series.

Please remember to sign-up for my FREE monthly Newsletter to stay up to date on the latest information.

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GLASS CASTLE - Cover Reveal

GLASS CASTLE

When a young woman is found dead in her Midtown Manhattan apartment, all signs point to a tragic suicide, but the detectives of the NYPD have grown accustomed to the fact that things are rarely what they appear to be. The trail of clues leads them into a world of sex, lies and politics.

James Maguire has grudgingly accepted his new role as NYPD Police Commissioner, but soon finds himself questioning his decision when he is thrust into the middle of an investigation that threatens the very underpinnings of the city. While Maguire treads carefully through the political minefield, his fiancée, Melody Anderson, is facing her own dilemma; a job offer from Eliza Cook, the woman that many believe will be the next President of the United States.

As the investigation heats up, Maguire soon finds himself wondering who he can trust and reaching out to his past for help, but will that help come at too high of a personal price?

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Hallelujah and Start the Presses!!

Well, maybe we can just go ahead and get the presses warmed up!!

I’m proud to announce that I have completed the latest James Maguire novel which is titled: Glass Castle. It has gone to editing and I am in the process of creating the cover artwork.

I want to thank all of you who have been so patient with this process; I know that it took a long time and I hope that you will enjoy the latest continuation of the Maguire series.

I actually started writing Glass Castle back in March 2018, but things got a bit sidetracked while I was convalescing after my surgery last year. If you have ever taken a protracted break from anything, you know that getting back into the groove is not always easy and this is especially true for the ‘creative’ process. That being said, I’ve been working hard to get this book finished in time form a summer release.

Fittingly, Glass Castle picks up nearly a year after Knight Fall (and roughly 6 months since Brooklyn Bounce, for those reading my books in order). Maguire has grudgingly accepted his new role as Police Commissioner, but soon finds himself questioning his decision when he is thrust into the middle of an investigation that threatens the very underpinnings of the city. As the case heats up, Maguire soon finds himself wondering who he can trust and reaching out to his past for help, but will that help come at a price?

Please remember to sign-up for my FREE monthly Newsletter to stay up to date on the latest information.

Throwback Thursday - Behind the Scenes (NYPD ESU)

Readers of my books know that I reference a lot of different places and agencies. So today I am continuing the theme of Throwback Thursday, the 2nd in the on-going series, by introducing you to what I consider the preeminent unit within the NYPD; the Emergency Service Unit. In my second book, Queen’s Gambit, ESU plays a pivotal role in the hunt for terrorists threatening NYC.

The saying goes in New York City: ‘When a civilian needs help they call 911, but when a cop needs help they call ESU.’

 In 1964, the Philadelphia Police Department established what became known as the first official Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in the United States. Three years later, the Los Angeles Police Department launched their SWAT team. These were the first units dedicated to specifically addressing escalating violence in urban areas. Without taking anything away from these two premier agencies, in my opinion they were about four decades late to the party.

In 2015, after five years of research, I wrote: Uncommon Valor, a history of the insignia of ESU. It was my goal to record not only the insignia of this acclaimed unit, but also the rich history. I was deeply honored when Police Commissioner William Bratton called me to say that he was having this book included at the NYPD Police Academy library.

The origins of the modern ESU date back to 1925, when NYPD Police Commissioner Richard Enright, created the Police Emergency Automobile Squad. This unit arose out of the need to address changes in the growing urban landscape in New York City.  A steadily growing population, coupled with increases in urban construction and a diversifying system of transportation, began to present new issues that the regular patrol officers simply could not begin to handle effectively. Officers were now being forced to contend with a myriad of issues, such as gas leaks, pedestrians being run over by vehicles or falling from elevated train lines, and horses that would fall into open construction sites. It soon became obvious that there was a need to have a specialized unit, which would be available to respond to the new type of emergency situations that New York City was beginning to face. 

On November 3rd, 1926, the officers of Emergency Service engaged in their first major gun battle when NYC mobster, Herman ‘Hyman’ Amberg, who was in jail for the murder of a local jeweler, attempted to escape from the old ‘Tombs’ jail on Centre Street, along with two other prisoners. Pistols had been previously smuggled into the jail for the three men. They faked illnesses so that they would be brought to the jail doctor. Once inside the doctor's office, they pulled their guns and attempted to escape. Newly assigned Warden, Peter Mallon, heard the commotion and came running to stop the escape. He was shot and killed as he entered the office. The three inmates then fled into the prison courtyard, near the Lafayette Street gate, where they exchanged shots with Keeper (the former title for Corrections Officer) Jeremiah Murphy and his partner, Daniel O’Connor. Keeper Murphy was killed and his partner was wounded.

Emergency Service responded and engaged the inmates from nearby buildings, raking the jail from all sides with heavy machine gun fire and gas bombs.  The gun battle at the Tombs went on for thirty minutes, with hundreds of rounds being fired. Amberg and the other two inmates hunkered down behind a pile of coal in the yard, before making their way to the safety of a guardhouse. They occasionally returned fire, wounding a police officer and a businessman in the Conklin Building across the street. At some point, two of the inmates were shot and wounded. With no escape possible, all three committed suicide. 

Over the decades, the role of the Emergency Service Unit has continually evolved. While they still respond to all major disasters, they have become the tip of the spear in the response to terrorism. On September 11th, 2001, of the twenty-three members of the NYPD killed on that day, fourteen were members of ESU. Sadly, in the years since, a number of members have succumbed to 9/11 related illnesses from the toxins they ingested during the rescue & recovery efforts.

In addition to its traditional role, ESU also provides Counter Assault (CAT) / Counter Sniper (CS) Team’s for major events and dignitary protection details. Like the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, ESU works hand in hand with their counterparts in the United States Secret Service and is part of the protection details for presidential motorcades and venues.

The motto of the NYPD ESU has always been: ‘Anytime, Anywhere, Any Place’.

If you have ever watched a newscast, concerning any major event in NYC, it is almost certain that you will see the familiar vehicles of the ESU. Contained within these trucks is a variety of equipment to handle any type of incident. When confronted with a situation they have never encountered before, they will find a way to perform the impossible.

The men & women of ESU are the epitome of the title: NY’s Finest.

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Photo courtesy of Tom O’Connor (NYPD ESU - Retired)

Photo courtesy of Tom O’Connor (NYPD ESU - Retired)