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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  September 12, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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>> 20 years ago, they answered the call. >> send every available ambulance, everything you got, to the world trade center, now! >> we knew that there could be up to 20,000, 25,000 people in each building. >> i'm on the 83rd floor! and it's very, very, very hot! >> every firefighter saw the flames, and they looked into their own hearts. >> stay together, stay together!
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>> that's when i said to pete-- "pete, this'll be the worst day of our lives." and, you know, that was before i knew the half of it. >> mayday, mayday! major collapse! major collapse! >> and in the darkness... >> everybody all right? >> ...i wondered if i was dead or alive. >> pete? pete hayden? >> tonight... >> the world trade center collapsed. >> ...the fire department of the city of new york, and the greatest act of gallantry ever bestowed on an american city. >> i don't want this to be something that's in a history book-- that a page is turned and we're forgotten. ( ticking ) >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'msharyn alfonsi. >> i'm jon wertheim. >> i'm scott pelley. that story, on this, the 54th
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season premiere of "60 minutes." ( ticking )
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how terrifying. protection so good it's scary. "the addams family 2" playing october 1st. >> scott pelley: in the neighborhoods of new york, there are 217 firehouses. each holds a memorial to firefighters who answered the call 20 years ago, and never returned. 343 members of the fire department of the city of new york perished on 9/11, in the greatest act of gallantry ever bestowed on an american city. this is their story.
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>> joe pfeifer: this plane raced past us along the hudson river at such a low altitude i could read "american" on the fuselage. >> pelley: at 8:46 that morning, battalion chief joe pfeifer was blocks away, searching for a routine gas leak. ( jet roar ) >> pfeifer: i saw the plane aim and crash into the north tower of the world trade center. ( explosion ) >> pelley: from that moment, the firefighters of the f.d.n.y. would have about an hour and a half to save 17,000 lives. >> sal cassano: they knew that they might not come home, but they knew there were people trapped. >> peter hayden: there's no way we were going to stand back and say we're not going in.
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that wouldn't be the f.d.n.y. >> dan nigro: our aim was to get above that fire and get those poor people out that were calling us. >> melissa doi: we're on the floor and we can't breathe. and it's very, very, very hot! >> nigro: and all the dispatcher could say is, "we're coming for you." so, we like to keep our promises. you know, we told them we're coming. we're coming. >> pfeifer: go, go to the trade center. >> pelley: joe pfeifer was coming with a camera. filmmakers jules and gideon naudet were making a documentary about the f.d.n.y. >> crowd: oh, my god! >> pfeifer: we have a number of floors on fire. it looked like the plane was aiming towards the building. >> dispatch: engine 6 to manhattan, k. engine 6. >> radio: the world trade center, tower number one is on fire! >> dispatch: engine 1-0, world trade center 10-60. sendevery available ambulance,
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everything you got to the world trade center now! >> pelley: dispatch launched an armada. >> dispatch: engine 2-1-1, ladder 11, engine 4-4, engine 22, engine 53... >> pelley: 121 engines, 62 ladder companies, 100 ambulances, 750 members of the f.d.n.y. >> dispatch: attenion 68 engine, 35 engine, 50 engine, 64 engine, 94 engine, 83 engine. >> pelley: at f.d.n.y. headquarters in brooklyn, 54-year-old chief of department peter ganci, jr. raced to his car. he was the boss, leading the second largest fire department in the world, after tokyo. dan nigro was his number two. >> nigro: so we went downstairs quickly, got in the car and headed over the brooklyn bridge, where we could see the damage, see the smoke, see the fire. that's when i said to pete-- "pete, this'll be the worst day
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of our lives." and, you know, that was before i knew the half of it. >> peter ganci, jr.: car 3 to manhattan, k. >> pelley: pete ganci's voice was recorded en route. >> peter ganci, jr.: transmit a fifth alarm for this box, and get us a staging area chief-- chief, somewhere on west street, k. >> pelley: a "box" is a location." "k" signals the end of a message-- a throwback to the 19th century telegraph, which, on this day, was punctuating the greatest crisis in the department's 136 years. >> hayden: right away, i got a deep sense that we were going to lose a lot of firefighters this day. >> pelley: division one commander peter hayden met battalion chief joe pfeifer in the lobby of the burning tower. >> hayden: well, i knew that we weren't going to be able to put out the fire. so, the order of the day was to search and evacuate as many people as we could. and then we were going to back away.
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>> pelley: the fire was 93 floors above. elevators were out. so, firefighters climbed tight stairwells, shouldering 75 pounds and more. >> hayden: and i thought we would have enough time to get the people out. and everybody that was above the impact of the plane, we were pretty much sure were either dead already or going to die. there were a lot of people jumping out already. >> pelley: 1,355 people were trapped above the fire. the boeing 767 had severed all three stairwells, leaving one way out. >> radio: jumpers, k! jumpers! all right, division 1 be advised, battalion 2 advised, we has jumpers from the world trade center. ( loud crash ) >> pfeifer: we heard a loud thud, and i knew that was somebody that either fell or jumped from the building. >> pelley: the first firefighter killed was hit by a fellow human
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being. >> pfeifer: it was happening so rapidly that i grabbed the p.a. system at the fire command post and i said, "the firefighters are coming. if you can, hold on." ( crash ) >> cassano: it's something that's going to haunt us probably for the rest of our lives. >> pelley: tour commander sal cassano had arrived precisely 17 minutes after the north tower was hit. >> cassano: just as i got out of my car, i heard another explosion. and i can tell you exactly what time it was. it was 9:03, because that was the plane that hit the south tower. >> radio: you have a second plane into the other tower! the tower of the trade center! major fire! mayday! mayday! engine, another plane hit the second tower, k! >> pelley: the second 767 exploded into floors 77 through 85. now 2,000 people were trapped, a
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quarter-mile high. cassano ran into the department chaplin, mychal judge. >> cassano: and i just told him, "father, we're going to be in for a bad day. you're going to need a lot more chaplains here." >> hayden: you know, the more and more firefighters, they kept coming in, they took their assignments with no question. pretty tough to do. >> pelley: but it's also hard to give them those assignments. >> hayden: it was, it was, but i could tell that, when i gave the assignments out-- i could see the look in their eyes. i remember seeing firefighters hugging each other, and heading up. >> pelley: how many firefighters did you see that day refuse to go up the stairs? >> pfeifer: nobody refused to go in. >> stay together. let me know what's going on. >> pfeifer: i could remember one lieutenant from engine 33 coming up to me and not saying a word. and we stood there, wondering if
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we were both going to be okay. and that lieutenant was my brother kevin. and then i told him what i told many of the other fire officers: i said, "go up to the 70th floor." >> pelley: 70, they hoped, could be a staging area in the north tower. in less than half an hour, the f.d.n.y. had rescue operations in the north tower, the south tower, and the nearly sold-out 800-room hotel between them. >> cassano: from the time the first plane hit the north tower until the second tower collapsed was 102 minutes. the things that were going through pete's mind in just 102 minutes is just mind-boggling.ei at his command post on the street, below the towers.
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this is the only known picture of ganci that day. was ganci the kind of boss that you did things for because you feared him, or because you desperately did not want to let him down? >> cassano: you did it because you loved him. >> pelley: ganci joined the f.d.n.y. in 1968. >> pelley: what kind of man was peter ganci? >> nigro: pete-- i guess people would say he's my alter ego. had a chest full of medals. and he was just a down to earth, honest, hard-working guy. you know he was a paratrooper in the army, worked his way up to be chief of department in the f.d.n.y. quite a story. >> pelley: a story of courage over his 33-year career. he won the department's medal of valor, crawling into a burning
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apartment on his hands and knees, grabbing a child who was certainly going to die, and dragging that child out and saving her life. >> cassano: that's the kind of person pete was. he would put people before himself without a doubt. >> pelley: he put his firefighters before himself. three months before 9/11, ganci, the chief of department, responded from home to a call of firefighters trapped in a burning store. he went in wearing shorts and boat shoes. he once said his 11,000 firefighters were his children. on that day in queens, he lost three. on 9/11, the man responsible for firefighter safety was chief al turi, who was tormented by the passing minutes. >> al turi: let it burn up. we ain't putting this out. >> pelley: he asked pete hayden if he had considered the threat
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of a partial, localized collapse on the burning floors. >> hayden: i said yes, but, we needed to get the people out. there were hundreds upon hundreds of people coming down the interior stairs. >> pelley: how much time did you think you had? >> hayden: i thought we had a couple of hours. >> pelley: the chiefs knew, no steel high rise in history had ever completely collapsed due to fire. >> nigro: none of us expected the building to come down. we expected the fire to keep burning, and conditions to get worse. but if we could just get one route above in each building, perhaps we could bring some folks down, at least. >> pelley: you just needed a little more time. >> nigro: we just needed time. >> orio! all right, listen up... >> pelley: no one would do more with time than orio palmer. that's him on the right, with the mustache. he's receiving orders to go to
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the south tower to try to clear a path to the trapped souls calling 9-1-1. >> operator: how many people where you're at right now? >> doi: there's, like, five people here with me. >> operator: all up on the 83rd floor? >> doi: 83rd floor. >> pelley: 32-year-old melissa doi was saying the hail mary prayer when 9-1-1 answered. the once-aspiring ballerina was a manager in a financial firm on 83, one of the burning floors in the south tower. >> doi: are they going to be able to get someone up here? >> operator: of course, ma'am, we're coming up to you. >> doi: well, there's no one here yet and the floor is completely engulfed. we're on the floor and we can't breathe. and it's very, very, very hot. >> pelley: the operator was right-- someone was rising toward melissa doi. orio palmer ran marathons as a hobby. >> palmer: battalion 7, ladder 1-5. >> pelley: "battalion 7" is chief palmer." ladder 1-5" is a team of firefighters, a few floors below.
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>> joe leavey: what do you got up there, chief? >> palmer: i'm still in "boy" stairway 74th floor. no smoke or fire problems, the walls are breached, so be careful. >> pelley: this is ladder 15's lieutenant, joe leavey. >> leavey: all right, we're on 71, we're coming up behind you. >> palmer: i found a marshal on 75. >> pelley: palmer found fire marshal, ron bucca, on the 75th floor, evacuating civilians. >> palmer: battalion 7, ladder 1-5. >> leavey: 1-5. >> palmer: i'm going to need two of your firefighters, "adam" stairway, to knock down two fires. we have a house line stretched, we could use some water on it. knock it down, k. >> pelley: palmer had discovered the only intact stairway to the top of the south tower. unlike the north tower, the second plane had missed stairway a. >> leavey: we're on 77 now, in the b stair. i'll be right to you. >> pelley: if palmer could clear this stairwell, 619 souls would have a way out.
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he was five floors below melissa doi, and rising. >> doi: i'm going to die, aren't i? >> operator: no, no, no, no, no. >> doi: i'm going to die. >> operator: ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, say your prayers. we're not going to-- >> doi: i'm going to die. >> operator: we're going to think positive, because you've got to help each other get off the floor. >> palmer: we have access stairs going up to 79, k. >> ladder 15: all right, i'm on my way up, orio. >> doi: i'm going to die. >> operator: stay calm. stay calm. stay calm. stay calm. >> doi: please, god. >> operator: you're doing a good job, ma'am. you're doing a good job... >> doi: it's so hot. i'm burning up. >> pelley: the ascent of orio palmer, and peter ganci's sacrifice, when we come back. ( ticking ) oh we thought it distracted from the new behr dynasty paint color. juniper berries blue.
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in the south tower, battalion 7 chief orio palmer took the only working elevator as high as it would go. then, he led the men of ladder 15 on a climb from the 40th floor. palmer was trying to clear a path to 619 people trapped by fire. >> palmer: battalion 7, ladder 1-5. >> pelley: this is palmer's radio transmission from the 78th floor of the south tower. he's calling the firefighters of ladder 15, who are coming up with rescue gear from a few floors below. >> palmer: we've got two isolated pockets of fire. we should be able to knock it down with two lines. radio, radio that. 78th floor. numerous 10-45 code 1's. >> pelley: 10-45 code 1's were fatalities, more than he could count. palmer pressed toward 79, climbing at about one floor a minute.
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as he rose, melissa doi, speaking to 9-1-1 from the 83rd floor, thought she heard someone. >> doi: wait, wait, we hear voices. hello! help! >> operator: hello, ma'am? >> doi: help! oh, my god! >> operator: are they coming through to you now? >> doi: find out if there is anyone here on the 83rd floor! >> operator: ma'am, don't worry, you stay on the phone with me-- >> doi: can you find out if there is anyone here on the 83rd floor? because we think we heard somebody! >> pelley: we don't know what she heard. but, hearing no answer to her shout, melissa doi returned to the call. >> doi: can you, can you-- stay on the line with me, please? >> operator: yes, ma'am. >> doi: i feel like i'm dying. >> pfeifer: orio palmer knew how dangerous this was, and he didn't stop. ladder 15 knew how dangerous it was. but we never thought that an entire high-rise building would collapse. there was no history of it anywhere in the world.
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>> pelley: but this day, history was changing, because the planes had blasted away the spray-on fireproof foam insulating the structural steel. the burning floors were sagging, slowly pulling the exterior inward. e.m.s. division chief john peruggia was in the city emergency operations center, where he received a warning from an official he believes was an engineer. >> john peruggia: he said, "the buildings are severely compromised. you can see slight lean. they're in danger of collapse." so i grabbed one of my staff guys, e.m.t. rich zarrillo. and i said, "rich, go to pete ganci-- don't talk to anyone else-- and deliver this message: the buildings are in danger of collapse." >> pelley: in this four-second video, at far left, you see rich zarrillo's blue shirt. he's delivering the warning to pete ganci. zarrillo hardly got the words out when ganci's attention was
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drawn to a roar from the south tower above him. >> cassano: loud noise, had no idea what it was. all we saw was this plume of dust and smoke and debris. >> pelley: in the moment before, melissa doi had given the 9-1-1 operator her mother's phone number, and the message that her daughter loved her. then, there was silence. >> operator: oh my god. melissa, please. you're going to be all right. you're going to be fine. you're going to talk to your mother yourself. but you got to think positive. you got to stay calm. okay? you're going to talk to your mother yourself, all right? melissa? >> pelley: palmer's last radio transmission was "battalion 7 to ladder 15," and there's nothing
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after that. that's when the tower collapses. he must have known that, with every step he ascended, his chance of survival dropped. >> cassano: didn't deter him one bit. the only thing that was in his mind was, "let me get up there. let me get as many people out as i can, as quickly as i can." >> pelley: joe pfeiffer, next door in the north tower, was 200 feet from the cascading twin. ( explosions from collapse ) >> pfeifer: and then the lobby goes pitch black. >> everybody all right? >> yeah, i'm okay. >> pfeifer: and in the darkness, alive.
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>> we got to get everybody out, let's go! >> pfeifer: and i got on my radio, and i said, "command to all units in tower one"... evacuate the building. >> hayden: joe pfeifer was giving the order to evacuate. and one of the firefighters were calling my name. >> pete! pete hayden! >> hayden: he says, "we have somebody down." >> pfeifer: i felt somebody at my feet, and i saw this was our fire department chaplain, father mychal judge. i removed his white collar. i checked for his pulse and breathing. and he had none. and i knne. ushim up and we iem the e.m.t.s that had taken him, actually took him, not to the morgue, but they took him to st. peter claver, which is a
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catholic church a little bit north of the trade center. and they laid him on the altar, and they called out the franciscan priests to come down and get him. >> radio: tower two has had a major explosion and what appears to be a complete collapse! >> radio: have them mobilize the army! we need the army in manhattan. >> john sudnik: there was a rush of dust, with high pressure coming in, you know, with force that i've never experienced before. >> pelley: ganci's streetside command post had been set up next to an underground garage, in case shelter was needed. captain john sudnik, ganci, and the chiefs dove into the entrance. >> sudnik: i just remember the dust that day, feeling like it ke, it was, like, it felt like you were swallowing glass. >> cassano: pitch black. pitch black. but we heard voices, "are you okay, are you okay?" and then that's when we made our
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way back up. and then, when we got up to where the command post was, pete's mind went into rescue mode. >> pelley: pete ganci heard, on the radio, the cries of trapped and wounded firefighters. >> cassano: and i remember him giving orders. "i need truck companies. i need rescue company. tell them to come with me." >> pelley: as he had before, ganci went into the debris to save his men himself. in the still-standing north tower, many firefighters refused the order to evacuate, while they were still carrying the wounded and disabled. ganci sent sal cassano to set up a new command post. 28 minutes later, cassano was on his way back. >> cassano: and then i look up, and all i could see was the antennae from the north tower imploding.
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>> radio: the other tower has just collapsed! major collapse! major collapse! >> regina wilson: i, in my mind, had to be resolved with death. >> pelley: regina wilson was on the street below the tower. she was with engine 219, in her second year as a firefighter. >> wilson: and i prayed, and then i just asked god to just protect me. and then, if he couldn't, i knew that i would die doing what i love. >> pelley: inside the collapsing north tower, the men of engine 39 were caught in a stairwell. >> jeff coniglio: and it started out slow-- boom... boom... boom. then it got quicker, where pretty soon it was just like, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, coming down. >> pelley: jeff coniglio and jamie efthimiades were on the stairs near the ground floor,
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with 110 floors above them. >> jamie efthimiades: it took ten seconds for it to come down, but it felt like ten minutes. i saw-- i was in the background of a funeral: i saw my casket, i saw my parents, my wife sitting in the front. and as i'm watching this, i'm like, "all right, it's going to be quick." i'm just waiting for something to tap my shoulder and figure, "i'll feel a tap, and that'll be it, we'll be gone," you know? "we're not going to suffer." >> pelley: james mcglynn and bob bacon were in the same stairwell. >> bob bacon: you know, the wind actually came up the stairwell. you know, blew me into the air, and the landing that i was on just disintegrated underneath me, and i kind of bounced, you know, back and forth, and ended up hanging from, like, a pipe. >> james mcglynn: i think i said a couple of prayers and said, "god, please get us out of here." >> pelley: their fragment of an intact stairwell lay upon a mountain of misery-- 16 acres of wreckage, 91 crushed f.d.n.y.
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vehicles, and quiet like the first heavy snow of winter. >> hayden: every once in a while, you'd hear the radio, the dispatcher on a radio, trying to contact somebody. >> dispatch: all right, manhattan announcing, any division or any staff chief at the scene of the world trade center, k. >> pelley: silence spoke of unimaginable loss. >> dispatch: any division chief or any staff chief at the scene of any of the world trade centers? k. >> pfeifer: that day, 23 battalion chiefs responded. only four of us survived. >> pelley: joe pfeifer thought of the lieutenant of engine 33, his brother, kevin, who pfeifer sent up the north tower. >> pfeifer: i got on my radio, and i said, "battalion one to, engine 33."
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and i repeated it several times. and i didn't get an answer. >> pelley: kevin pfeifer was gone, and so was the crew of ladder 105, which rolled from regina wilson's firehouse. >> wilson: we found the truck. we didn't find the members. >> pelley: what happened to them? >> wilson: they all died. >> pelley: among them was john chipura, her mentor and her savior. regina wilson was assigned to the doomed ladder 105, but, early that morning, before the attack, john chipura asked to switch jobs, which put her among the survivors of engine 219. >> wilson: i try to honor him by talking his name. and that's how it is in the african american culture. when you speak the name of an ancestor or you speak the name
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of a loved one, then they live. and so, every time i say john's name, he lives. and that gives me comfort. >> coniglio: it was very hot. >> efthimiades: oh, yeah. >> pelley: the men of engine 39 were trapped in the wreckage near the north tower lobby. they could hear, only a few feet away, battalion chief richard prunty, who was pinned and calling for help. >> coniglio: we couldn't get to him, and he was passing out. >> efthimiades: yeah, he was coming in and out. >> pelley: did you hear his radio transmissions? >> coniglio: the last thing that he said was, of course, about his wife, and saying that-- >> efthimiades: "tell my wife and children i love them." >> coniglio: yeah, that they were the most-- "my wife, that she was the most important thing in the world to me." >> pelley: those words were among richard prunty's last. the men of engine 39 were rescued, but 343 members of the f.d.n.y. were gone. in a tradition where the job is
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handed down in families, many lost fathers, sons, and brothers. >> hayden: guys i had worked with, both retired and active, saying to me, "petey--" you know, "have you seen my son?" and-- you know, firefighter-- young firefighter coming up, you know, "chief, have you seen my father?" who i knew and-- i-- i just said, "no." i didn't have the courage to tell him what i knew to be true. >> pelley: among the fallen were peter ganci, and 71-year-old deputy fire commissioner william feehan, who had gone with ganci to rescue the trapped. pete hayden climbed atop an engine to address the living. >> hayden: i yelled out, you know, "we just lost a lot of guys here today. let's have a moment of silence." and, well-- i took my helmet off, and we held it.
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i held it. and after a while, i put my helmet back on. they put their helmets back on. i said, "okay, we have a job to do... let's do it." >> pelley: do you look back and wonder, "how did i survive, and 343 members did not?" >> cassano: yeah. i didn't think about it as much. we were crazy busy. i was working 18 hours a day, and then it hit me. i says, "i'm here." you know, i mean, i get home and i'm tired, and there was always food on the table waiting for me when i came home, no matter what time i came home. and, i'm lying in bed, and i ask
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my wife, "why me?" and she said, "did you ever think there was a job for you to do?" >> pelley: there was "a job for cassano, and others, to do"-- rebuilding the f.d.n.y. when we come back, the children of the lost put on their fathers' uniform. ( ticking ) >> welcome to presented by progressive insurance. >> i'm james brown with the scores of the nfl today. steelers scored 43 points in the second half to beat the bills. jones dominated with with five sacks. five tds. and james koox+*er follows the saints in a route to picture. and mahomes pass the browns.
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>> pelley: volunteers started fighting fire in manhattan in 1648. nearly 200 years later, during the civil war, an entire new york regiment was manned by firefighters. their commander is quoted, "i want new york firemen, for there are no more effective men in the country." as those veterans returned home in 1865, the modern f.d.n.y. was created. the department's traditions are handed down in families. and so it remains, especially for the children of 9/11's fallen. the late chief of department, peter ganci, had three children. his daughter married a firefighter. these are his sons: captain peter ganci iii was 27 on 9/11. battalion chief chris ganci was 25. >> pelley: how did you learn your father died?
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>> chris ganci: i ran home, and i got in the door right when steve mosiello, who was my dad's driver; al turi, who was the chief of safety-- i just remember them telling my mom that he's gone. and she said, "gone where?" like that. like, innocently. and they're like, "he's dead." and i remember-- the scream that she-- that she let out. i can still hear it my ears, and it pains me to hear it. the pain of the realization that he's never walking back in the door. >> pelley: pete, what kind of man was he? >> pete ganci iii: he loved being around family. but his family was also the fire department. we knew it. my mom knew it. sometimes to his dismay. but we understood the type of person that he was, and why he chose our chosen career. >> pelley: chris, you were in business, and on your way to an m.b.a. did 9/11 make you a fireman? >> chris ganci: absolutely. had 9/11 not happened, i would
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not have been a new york city firefighter. >> pelley: you've quoted your dad as telling new graduates from the fire academy, "you will never, ever be rich. but you will always be happy." >> chris ganci: "you'll always be happy." it's hard to explain to people, how, like, you could get injured or you could get killed, but yet, somehow, you come home with a smile on your face. like, i enjoy being part of the organization, it makes-- gives me a sense of pride that i never felt anywhere else. and maybe that's what had driven my father for so many years. >> josephine smith: my name is josephine smith, and i work in engine 39. >> pelley: josephine smith's late father, 47-year-old kevin smith, was with hazmat one on 9/11. >> smith: i always wanted to be like my father. i always wanted to be brave like him, and strong and willing. it really just runs through our blood, generation to generation. i just think it's just who we are. it's our passion. it's our upbringing.
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>> pelley: somebody else might have thought, with such grievous loss, "i don't want to have anything to do with that." >> smith: it's not the job that took my father. it was an act of terrorism that took my father. and that made me want to fight even more to protect the city of new york, and the citizens. "you may have taken my father from me, but the passion in the blood is still there." >> john palombo: i'm john palombo, i work in 92 engine in south bronx. >> tommy palombo: i'm tommy palombo, i work in 69 engine in harlem. >> pelley: john, how old were you on 9/11? >> john palombo: i was a week away from being eight years old. >> tommy palombo: and i was nine. >> pelley: how many kids in the palombo family? >> john palombo: there's ten of us. eight boys and two girls. >> pelley: the palombo brothers' dad, frank palombo, was 46 when he died-- ladder 105. in a sense, it wasn't 9/11 that
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made the palombo boys firefighters, it was september the 12th, and all the days that followed. >> john palombo: my dad's brothers and sisters in the firehouse, they cooked for us. they drove us places. they took us to six flags. i remember going on their shoulders and, you know, they'd take us by the arms and spin us in circles. >> pelley: the firehouse turned out for birthdays and games. >> tommy palombo: the stands were filled at the hockey games, you know. it wasn't the same, because you are missing the one person that you want there, but they do everything they can to fill it. they never will, but they did everything they could to fill it, as hard as it was for them, taking time away from their own families. >> pelley: the firehouse cooked dinner for the ten palombo's and their mother, every monday, for five years, until the family moved away.
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>> michael florio: i'm a firefighter in engine 214, ladder 111 in bed-stuy, brooklyn. my name is michael florio. >> pelley: mike florio's dad, john florio, was 33 years old on 9/11-- engine 214, the same house where his son works today. >> florio: every day i walk in, my father's picture is on the wall. there's a lot of memorials of him and the other four guys that passed on 9/11. i do have a lot of memories from the firehouse, being a young boy. and just walking in there every day and seeing his pictures, it brings back those memories. it makes me feel closer to him being there every day. >> instructor: attention! >> cadets: f.d.n.y.! >> pelley: more than 60 children of 9/11's fallen have been through the training academy on randall's island in the east river, and are now "on the job." to join, they took a written exam that's given only once every four years.
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about 60,000 applicants take it, and only those in the top 10% earn a place in the rank and file. >> nigro: i'm very proud of them. i feel that their-- their fathers would have been very proud of them. >> pelley: dan nigro, peter ganci's number two on 9/11, was promoted to chief of department, and is now the city fire commissioner. among the others in our story, john sudnik, a captain on 9/11, rose to chief of department, and so did peter hayden. sal cassano became fire commissioner. battalion chief joe pfeifer became chief of counterterrorism and now teaches crisis leadership. regina wilson is studying for the lieutenant's exam. and orio palmer's name lives, on the f.d.n.y.'s award for the most physically fit firefighters. >> nigro: a lot of bravery.
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a lot of bravery was displayed that day. and-- followed by a lot of sadness. >> pelley: commissioner, it seems to be a sad day for you, 20 years later. >> nigro: i think for everyone that was there that day, it just stayed with them, the sadness. we have plenty of good days, plenty to be thankful for-- those of us who survived. but it's a day that'll never leave-- never leave you. >> pelley: sadness becomes part of your life. >> nigro: absolutely. >> pelley: your father survived the collapse of the first tower. and instead of moving to safety, he went to answer the mayday calls from his trapped firefighters. >> radio: receiving reports of firefighters trapped and down. >> pelley: he knew that the other building was in imminent danger of collapsing.
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he had decided in that moment that he was not going home. >> chris ganci: yeah. i mean, he chose his guys. and, you know, we can get angry about it. and i know my sister and my mother, we sometimes, we hit our head against the wall. but when the smoke clears and you think about it, it was the only decision. i knew the way he felt about his men and his job and the f.d.n.y., and he was going to stay and see the job through. and-- >> pete ganci iii: he wouldn't have been able to live with himself if he left and, you know, one more guy was killed. it's just the way he was. it was, i have to be there until the last guy is out. >> pelley: today's recruits were children then. and so, they muster before memories-- three columns of the world trade center, and 343 lives-- which are, here, indelible in time.
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>> wilson: so many of us sacrificed so much. that this story can't get lost. because the world is changing fast. and i don't want this to be something that's in a history book, that a page is turned, and we're forgotten. ( ticking ) >> two decades later, 9/11 survivors and first responders are seeking medical care at a growing rate. more at sponsored by ibrance.
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all with the power of the t-mobile 5g network. rule your day with 5g. only at metro by t-mobile. shoot. what's wrong? i think i'm down to my last inhaler. don't worry. you can refill it and get it delivered using the kaiser permanente app. smart. refill most prescriptions online and get delivery for no cost. >> pelley: we cannot do justice, in this hour, or any number of hours, to the sacrifices of the f.d.n.y., the new york city police department, the port authority police, and to those who fought to save lives at the pentagon, and on flight 93 in pennsylvania. at the trade center, 2,753 people perished.
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but there were more than 17,000 in the towers, and 99% of those below the fires, survived. that morning, a witness watched firefighters rush to the stairwells, and wondered how they found the courage. after 20 years of reflection, it's clear-- they climbed to rise. to rise to the cries 1,000 feet above them. to rise to the defense of the firefighter beside them. to rise beyond duty to a place of selfless devotion. i'm scott pelley. we'll be back in two weeks with another edition of "60 minutes."
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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. captioned by media access group at wgbh
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captioning funded by cbs >> announcer: previously on "big brother" the cookout had to make it to the final six. >> and claire was poised to be their next casualty. >> claire, i am choosing to replace my nomination with you. >> before the live vote julie unleashed some double trouble. >> julie: yes, ladies and len, it is de ti >> announcer: so after the cookout, cook outed claire. >> julie: by a vote of 4-1, claire, you are evicted from "the big bang theory"


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