Lasting Image Of 9/11 An Inspiration To Engine 39 & Ladder 16 In Manhattan

Snapped Photo Showing 2 Firefighters Marching Into Hell To Live On Forever

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Ten years later, the images of 9/11 remain seared into memory — scenes of unimaginable terror and depictions of great bravery and humanity.

For one group of firefighters a single photograph evokes the best and worst of that terrible day.

Each time the men of Engine 39 & Ladder 16 answer a call they remember.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t say ‘what the heck? It could have been anybody,’” Firefighter Marty Morgan told CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois on Tuesday.

A photo showing two of New York City’s bravest that died on that day hangs in the firehouse on East 67th Street. The scene is repeated, etched on the front doors and forever in the hearts of the firefighters who work there today.

“You kind of start to realize who they were and who they were as firemen,” one younger firefighter said.

“It’s never gonna fade away,” Firefighter Rich Rattazzi said.

Rattazzi has worked there for 13 years. On Sept. 11, 2001, he raced to the World Trade Center with Lt. Raymond Murphy and Firefighter Robert Curatolo. He snapped the picture just after the first tower collapsed.

“We’re in the middle of West Street walking south. I’m probably 15 feet behind them. I was just pointing at the steel in street and, fortunately, they came out,” Rattazzi said.

Rattazzi pointed out where Murphy was in the picture, in the lower corner, and that only Curatolo’s shoulder was visible.

DuBois: “This is literally the last time you saw these guys?”

Rattazzi: “Yes.”

In the chaos after the collapse the men separated. While Rattazzi assisted an injured firefighter Murphy and Curatolo headed into the rubble to find other victims.

But minutes later, as the North Tower collapsed, both men were lost. Rattazzi was the only man to make it back that day.

“You think should I have done this? Should I have done that? Why … why was I not able to see them? You wonder why me? You’re going to all these funerals afterwards,” Rattazzi said.

DuBois: “Do you feel relief?”

Rattazzi: “I’m happy I’m here. It wasn’t my time I guess.”

There’s a new generation of firefighters on the job today, but for them the lessons of 9/11 are never far from their minds.

“You hope that you could just become a person like that, be a fireman like that,” one firefighter said.

And the iconic photo is a touchstone Rattazzi carries with him each day.

“The picture is pretty much what firemen did that day. They had a job to do and they got it done. Extreme circumstances and unfortunately too many people died. They’re always still with us. They’re still riding on the back of the rig with us,” he said.

And Rattazzi told DuBois the families of the firefighters were happy he was able to take the photograph.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Maurice DuBois
  • Nora Clark

    I had the pleasure of knowing Ray personally, he was a friend of my family and an amazing individual. Raymond was a brave man and I was honored to know him. His courageous efforts on that day will never be forgotten and his memory will live on forever. RIP and thank you for your immense bravery

  • Brad Racine

    Hi. I climbed the Denver Qwest building in 2010 in his rememberance. This is a climb that has 343 firefighters from the Denver/Metro area, in full gear, to each carry one individual of FDNY who died on 9/11/01. I am honored to have climbed in Lt. Murphy’s name yet sad based on the principal of the climb. I looked at his picture multiple times during that climb which takes two trips to match 110 stories. I forgot to take his picture along with me this year because I worked the day before but I did think of his legacy when feeling weary. I hope that his family is doing well and I will remember to think of you all.

    Brad Racine Aurora Fire Dept., CO

  • Janice & Dennis

    Hi Rich:

    Thank you Richie and NYs bravest for doing such a wonderful job protecting us. We continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Stay safe! We love you.

  • Catherine Turner

    Dear Richie,
    Your dad is our son’s Godfather. Spencer was in Kindergarten that Tuesday. His new school in Plymouth, Minnesota had opened it’s doors , for the first time ust one week before.
    I held him, and his classmates all morning, while thinking of all of you – the bravest, the finest doing your jobs like never before. This wasn’t a cigarette, or an electric heater. this was war – against our beloved country. At that moment, all of you were soldiers…and what a fine job you did.
    You are right. It wasn’t your turn. Thank God for giving you that perspective.
    I haven’t seen you since you took the firefighter test – however, since September 11, 2001, my whole family thinks of you everyday in our prayers.
    God continue to keep you – in His constant care.
    Catherine Mulligan Turner (Spencer’s mom)

  • Bobbi F

    What an incredible and poignant reminder of that horrific day!

  • Mary

    Rich – Every time I see this photo I get a tear in my eye and am thankful for the seconds you took to stop and take it. My heart goes out to the families of the victims of 9/11. I am ever so mindful that there were special Angels watching over you that day.
    You do so many positive things in this world as a firefighter, a friend and a father that you make your family so extremely proud of you! Stay safe. Love ya Chichie!

  • Lisa Flannery

    Richie you are one amazing man, father, cousin (cousin-in-law) and husband. We all love you and are proud of you!
    God Bless you and all those who gave and continue to give so much!
    Much love from CO!
    Cousin-in-law Lisa

  • Cousin Tim

    We’re all proud of you Richie! Your comrades today are proud and privileged to stand by your side, you’re a testimony of FDNY’s finest, and your fallen brothers in part live on through you!

  • Kerri

    What a great tribute to your fallen brothers. Thank you for all of your continued hard work as one of NY’s bravest. We all love ya Rich!

  • Tobey

    This photo is of my friends uncle. Anne lives in Seattle, and this photo was her last time seeing her beloved uncle. She shared this photo with our local paper back then and it is forever immortilized here in Seattle too. I still hurt for her and her family to this day. Ray was a brave man doing what he was trained to do, and we are all forever greatful.

  • Path

    This picture hangs in my living room also..I see it every day & know my cousin Ray was a firefighter doing what he loved. I am glad u were able to take this picture.. I hope both my sons will be a wonderful ff just likevhe was… Raymond..never far from my thoughts..thank God for the FDNY & NYPD

  • Aunt Peg

    Dear Rich,
    Your picture is a classic and a treasure. There is no answer to the “why me?” or “why not me?”. How fortunate that you were there to assist the injured person to safety. And, our family is forever grateful for your presence.

    We love you.

  • Steph :]

    Picture hangs in our living room. Thank you richie!!

  • Uncle Frank

    Remember what you said–Mommy & Nanny were watching!

  • Jeff Schuster

    Nice job Rat. Some people just don’t get it.

  • Cookey

    Rich is a good and brave man.
    We wish him only the best

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