Welles Crowther (17 May 1977 - 11 September 2001)
"They didn't know his name. They didn't know where he came from. But they knew their lives had been saved by the man in the red bandana. He called for fire extinguishers to fight back the flames. He tended to the wounded. He led those survivors down the stairs to safety, and carried a woman on his shoulders down 17 flights. Then he went back. Back up all those flights. Then back down again, bringing more wounded to safety. Until that moment when the tower fell." (Barack Obama)
On September 11th 2001, Welles Crowther, ‘the man in the red bandana’, gave his own life to save the lives of at least 18 others from the flames and imminent collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. According to eyewitnesses, Crowther had been desperately leading others to safety, putting out fires, administering first aid and assisting first responders’ rescue efforts as a civilian.
Crowther left his mother an answer phone message at 9.12am informing her that he was ok, nearly an hour after the second plane had impacted Two World Trade. After this, Crowther made his way to the sky lobby on the 78th floor. There he directed a group of survivors down the stairwell to safety, carrying one woman over his shoulder. Crowther then returned once again to the 78th floor to lead more survivors 17 floors down to the working stairway, only to return back up once again.
The New York born equities trader was known for carrying a red bandana in his pocket gifted to him as a child by his father - the same bandana that would become a part of his legacy. As he ran tirelessly up the building to lead survivors down the 17 floors, Crowther wrapped the bandana around his nose and mouth to prevent inhaling the rising smoke inside the tower.
Crowther was last seen returning up the stairs to help others alongside the FDNY, not long before the South Tower collapsed at 9.59 a.m.
His body was found months later on 18th March 2002 alongside those of firefighters and emergency workers.
His family became aware of his bravery and efforts after having read a first-hand account of Judy Wein, one of the survivors that Crowther led to safety. Wein wrote of being saved by a man in a red bandana.
Over a dozen people are believed to have been led to safety by the bravery and ultimately, the sacrifice of Welles Crowther.
In his memory, The Red Bandana Project was founded – a character-development programme for classrooms, sports teams, camps and youth programmers, as well as the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust, founded in his name. In 2006, Welles Crowther was posthumously named an honorary New York City firefighter and visitors to the 9/11 memorial also often leave red bandanas by his name.
9/11 has become most known for American Airline Flight 11 and United Airline Flight 175 being hijacked and flown into the World Trade Centre. A third plane, American Airline Flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon.
The 9/11 attacks were a series of coordinated plane hijackings by al-Qaeda terrorists, with commercial passenger jets flown into the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan and the Pentagon building in Washington D.C.
However, a fourth plane, United Airlines flight 93 departing New Jersey with San Francisco as its destination, was hijacked with the terrorists likely intending to fly the plane into either the Capitol building or the White House. The hijackers were prevented from reaching their final target by the 44 passengers and crew on board, who upon learning of the plane attacks elsewhere in the country, rebelled against the hijackers. Although all passengers on board would lose their lives, their heroic actions prevented a much greater loss of life.
Approximately 42 minutes after the first plane hit the North Tower, 4 hijackers on board Flight 93 made their move into the cockpit where Captain Dahl and First Officer Homer were heard by air traffic controllers telling the intruders to get out. Both the Pilot and First Officer were stabbed and dragged to first-class, an announcement was then made by one of the hijackers instructing those on board to remain seated and stay quiet.
Shortly after passengers and crew were herded to the back of the plane, where one hijacker kept guard over the them. Two of the hijackers took control of the aircraft, while a fourth is believed to have remained with the injured pilots.
Upon learning of the fate of the other hijacked planes by calls to the ground, the 37 passengers held a vote and decided to revolt against the hijackers. A group of passengers rushed First-Class, some armed with boiling water to throw over the hijackers, and fought their way to the cockpit.
Calls to the ground made from onboard give an indication of how the tactics to overthrow the hijackers came into place. 3 men - Mr Glick, Mr Burnett and Mr Bingham formulated the plan to attack.
Another passenger, Mr Beamer, who was on the line to a supervisor for the on-flight service provider on the passenger phone, was heard as saying “You ready? Let’s roll”. Those last recorded words of his would go on to become a national slogan.
As the hijackers in the cockpit became aware of the revolt, the plane was maneuverered violently in an attempt to destabilise their attempts to regain control of the aircraft. The flight eventually nosedived into a field in Shanskville, Pennsylvania, 130 miles northwest of Washington DC. The hijackers and all of the passengers and crew on board were killed, but the actions of the passengers ensured that there were no other injuries on the ground.
The passengers, recognising their own fate, chose to use what would be their last actions to prevent the plane reaching its intended target, and an even more horrendous loss of life.
All passengers and crew on board Flight 93 were granted the Congressional Gold Medal on September 11th 2014. A public memorial also stands in the Pennsylvania field where the flight crashed, made of white marble and inscribed with the names of the victims and aligned with the flight path.
The then Vice President Dick Cheney who had authorised Flight 93 to be shot down claimed “I think an act of heroism just took place on that plane” upon learning of the crash.
Tobias Martin Ellwood is a British Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, a Government Minister at the Ministry of Defence, as well a former serving soldier.
In 2002 Mr Ellwood lost his brother in the Bali bombings. Jonathon Ellwood was one of 202 innocent people killed when terrorists blew up an Irish bar in the nightclub area of Kuta, Bali.
On 22 March 2017, Mr Ellwood once again found himself impacted by terrorism, when a vehicle was deliberately driven into pedestrians on the pavement along the south side of Westminster Bridge, killing 5 and injuring 50. The attacker then abandoned the vehicle and ran into New Palace Yard where he stabbed an unarmed police officer – PC Keith Palmer
Mr Ellwood, who was within Parliament at the time, ran towards where the attack had taken place and the assailant had been shot dead by police. Mr Ellwood used his medical training in an effort to resuscitate PC Keith Palmer and stem the bleeding, remaining at the scene with the wounded officer until Emergency Services arrived on the scene. Mr Ellwood continued with his efforts to save PC Keith Palmer until the latest possible moment, until it became clear that the brave officer had succumbed to his wounds.
Photos later emerged of Mr Ellwood with blood on his hands, face and clothes as he crouched over PC Palmer’s body, who died of his injures on the scene.
Mr Ellwood received a great deal of praise for his actions, especially on social media, as well as from fellow MPs upon his return to the Commons. He was also given an appointment to the Privy Council for his response during the attack.
Mr Ellwood, having already lost a brother to terrorism, showed no hesitation as he ran towards the site of the terrorist attack unfolding on Westminster Bridge in order to provide help. In a BBC interview, Mr Ellwood revealed that when asked by his son why someone had been killed and why his father was helping, he responded with “there are some bad people in the world…but it’s the good people that win”.
Colonel Arnaud Jean-Georges Beltrame (April 1973 – March 2018)
On 24th March 2018, in Trèbès, South of France, Gendarme (police) Lt Col Beltrame was killed during a terrorist hostage situation. His actions during the hostage taking led French President Emmanuel Macron to remark that Lt Col Beltrame was deserving of the respect and admiration of the whole nation. (Source)
During the attack, a terrorist claiming allegiance to ISIS had stormed a supermarket in Trèbès, shooting two people dead and taking others hostage. While police negotiated for the release of the hostages, Lt Col Beltrame offered to give up his weapon and take the place of the final hostage – a female cashier, whom the assailant was using as a human shield.
Upon entering the supermarket, Lt Col Beltrame left his phone on the side with an open line so that officers outside could monitor the activity inside the supermarket. After a 3-hour standoff, the terrorist shot and stabbed Lt Col Beltrame, as the officer attempted to disarm the terrorist. Upon hearing gunfire and commotion on the open line thanks to Lt Col Beltrame’s phone, police stormed the supermarket and shot dead the terrorist.
Lt Col Beltrame was flown by helicopter to hospital where he was pronounced dead a few hours later with his wife at his side. The cause of death was later confirmed as stab wounds to the throat.
Lt Col Beltrame’s life was one of service to France, having previously served with the French Military Police in Iraq, before becoming a commander in the Republican Guard, providing security at the Elysèe Palace, and lastly appointed as deputy commander of the anti-terror police in the Aude region. Lt Col Beltrame’s life of service and final act of heroism earned him a state funeral.
During the fu1neral, Lt Col Beltrame’s body was escorted through Paris on a national day of mourning, and a minute’s silence was observed at all police stations across France, whilst flags were lowered to half-mast on most public buildings.
Speaking at his funeral, French President, Macron said:
“With all his experience … he surely knew he had a rendezvous with death… He took this decision which was not just a sacrifice but was first of all being true to himself, true to his values and true to what he was and what he wanted to be. He would not have allowed anyone to take his place, because he knew the example has to be set from the top… the light he has lit in us has not gone out.” (source)
Macron also compared the Lieutenant Colonel’s sacrifices to those of France’s World War II heroes, stating that while the name of his murderer is already being forgotten, the name of Arnaud Beltrame will always represent French heroism. (Source)
His bravery and adherence to duty saw him posthumously promoted from Lieutenant to Colonel and made a commander of the Légion d’Honneur – France’s highest accolade for “giving his life to protect our fellow citizens”.
Speaking on the selfless sacrifice of his brother, Cedric Beltrame told a French Radio station “he must have known that he didn’t really have a chance. If that doesn’t make him a hero, I don’t know what would”