James McGlynn was in the North Tower when it collapsed, trapping him inside a stairwell for several hours, reports CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.READ MORE: Long Island Pays Tribute To Health Care Heroes And Lives Lost As Pandemic Reaches 1-Year Mark
“After September 11, I felt like I was needed. Serving New Yorkers is what I was here to do. As time when on, I told myself that if I found something that I wanted to do more, I would leave, but that never happened,” he was quoted saying in a social media post. “This job is unique, you are responsible for other people’s lives and nothing can top that. Helping people and being a part of this job is special.”
Firefighters lowered a rope into the stairwell to rescue McGlynn and other victims one by one.
“We realized we were missing one firefighter, John Drum, so last time we saw him was the second, third floor,” McGlynn told CBS2 back in 2001, just two months after the 9/11 attacks. “We went back to the B stairwell to look for him, and at that point basically the building came down.”
It turned out firefighter Drum had made it out of the building, but now the others were in danger. McGlynn was a lieutenant at the time, so his nickname was Lou.READ MORE: COVID Vaccine: CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez Has What You Need To Know About The Johnson & Johnson Shot
“We yelled up ‘Lou, do you need a hand?'” recalled firefighter James Efthimiadis. “He said, ‘No, I’m on the way down’ and that’s when you heard the sound of the steel twisting. Then you heard ‘boom, boom, boom, boom‘ as the floors were coming closer.”
They were trapped for five hours until fellow firefighters pulled them to safety. They had risked their lives returning to search for one of their own.
“We were just doing our job, but everybody who responded to World Trade Center that day and helped was a hero,” said McGlynn.
Decades earlier, he joined New York’s Bravest in 1985, following in the footsteps of three firefighter uncles.
“These uncles, they seemed to be happy in the careers they had chosen,” said McGlynn this week. “In the back of my mind, I was like OK, that job must be something special.
“The FDNY is my second family and I will miss being an active member,” he said. “I will miss the camaraderie, the daily grind, the firehouse kitchen, and how every day was different. When I decided to join the Department in 1985, I wanted more than just a job. I wanted to do something that I was proud of.”
McGlynn was promoted to battalion chief in 2008. Monday will be his last day on the job, a month before turning 65 – the FDNY’s mandatory retirement age.
He says after 34 years, it’s hard to leave, but says every firefighter knows they’re never off the clock even when they retire.
“If you drive by a car accident you can’t just keep going,” said McGlynn. “If you see somebody (in a) medical emergency (and) you’re off duty, you’re going to stop. That’s the difference.”MORE NEWS: Who Is Cuomo's Possible Successor, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul?
Until then, he says he’s looking forward to a vacation in Italy, spending more time at his beach house and working on his golf game.