Local first responders reflect on journeys to Ground Zero on 9/11 anniversary

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – There are many first responders here at home who made the journey to Ground Zero after the attacks. Investigator Josh Bowman is with the Gates Police Department.

At the time Joshua Bowman was an officer with the Addison Police Department. Representing a small town, he and another partner decided to pack up and head for the city after seeing the south tower of the World Trade Center get hit.  He described it as a legit war zone walking right through the rubble all day and night where bustling skyscrapers once stood. Officer Bowman was among the hundreds of crew members maneuvering through what was left of both buildings.  To cover their faces they were given nothing more than the face masks we wear today to stop the spread of COVID-19. He spent most his time in the bucket brigade which was responsible for picking apart debris in hopes to find survivors or key items. 

“It was unbelievable sights and sounds and smells that I’ll never forget,” Bowman said. “We went up and worked in the bucket brigade for a couple hours and we went inside to get something to eat and drink some water. Stuff like that. Or go into one of the local stores like the Brooks Brothers across the road. We actually went in there a grabbed a bunch of clothing for the firemen and policemen who were digging deep and soaked in need of dry clothing. So we helped in anyway we could.”

Trooper Mark O’Donnell is with the New York State Police. Both were in New York City in the days that followed 9/11. Similarly to Bowman, O’Donnell was in the rubble with search crews trying to recover survivors.

“From the NYPD and the FDNY that ran towards those buildings while everyone was running away from them pretty much knowing they could be seriously injured or killed. They did not hesitate,” O’Donnell said. “Very heroic, very brave, that’s what first responders do, and I think it’s important for your viewers to realize they chose a profession to put themselves in harm’s way in front of somebody else.”

Trooper Mark O’Donnell with NYSP

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