Class Notes

Terry Fuller ’55

October 31, 2011

Happy to tell everyone I am fine now.  I was working in my office on the 74th floor of WTC Tower #2 when the first plane hit Tower #1. Ran to corner office window, saw the gapping 8 story hole in other Tower, knew our building would be evacuated so immediately ran with all my staff to 74th floor elevator (it goes down to 44th Floor central change level for different elevators that go down to ground floor). Those on 74 were still running luckily because we got to them within about 2 minutes of first crash. That fact saved my group about 10 minutes vs. having to walk down those same 74 to 44th floors, as many others had to do. I didn’t even run back to my office and left my briefcase and computer disks/ personal calendar and address book on my desk. Reason: wanted to get out fast, and since it wasn’t our building that was hit, I fully expected that we would be evacuated quickly, but let back in our #2 Tower later that afternoon, or for sure the next day or two.

When our 74th floor elevator got us to floor 44 (where there is a major lobby with a different elevator bank to get down to the 1st floor) we were told to walk down the 44 floors to the ground floor, because those elevators then were shut off. We did so and at bottom of that long 10 minute walk down from 44 to the mezzanine level, that stairwell led to a long 100 foot interior, fully closed, corridor that then led at its end to a double door opening out to an inside the building passage that had large glass windows that looked out on the same mezzanine level large courtyard between Tower #2 and Tower #1. We were directed at the bottom of the stairwell at that mezzanine level to go down that corridor by Security, and we proceeded toward those doors at the end. When we got about 6 feet from that end door, the second plane crashed into out Tower #2. It felt was like an earthquake, and immediately we saw major pieces of metal from the building and plane, fire, debris, paper, etc., crashing down on the courtyard immediately in front of our eyes. We jumped back further into the corridor; there was screaming and crying. Then, most shockingly, there was a major explosion just 20 feet behind me in the corridor. The ceiling was blown out, with support beams, smoke, and debris crashing down. This is the space we had just run thru 15 seconds before!! Luckily, we were not hit, and blessedly, that ceiling collapse did not spread toward us. I quickly noticed a small room just behind me to my left which held coke and food machines, and it seemed a safe place for us all (about 8 people) to quickly move out of the corridor, and to decide what to do. By then, we could look out and see that the heavy materials and fire had stopped falling in bulk from the sky out the windows across from the exit doorway. We made a run for it out the doorway, turning left; deciding that to wait any longer might be a disaster for our location. We got to an escalator, ran down it to the main lobby/concourse level. There were not that many people in the concourse, I was surprised.

That was the end of the real danger for our small group. We ran through the concourse and exited up to the Church Street exit in the northeast corner of the complex. We walked up half a block toward Broadway, looked back and were awed by the sight of both Towers ablaze– and the #2 Tower hit was not far above our 74th floor Office. I determined at that sight that we certainly were NOT going to get back in to #2 any time soon!! So I said let’s run to the Brooklyn Bridge subway entrance (about 4 blocks away) because that station is where the LOCAL trains on the Lexington Line start each trip, and our goal was to get to Grand Central Station to get a train to Conn. and get home. It was a blessing again– the local subway was working and we quickly got to Grand Central. I immediately called my wife Sharon on a public phone so for the first time (approximately 1 hour after the first plane crash at 8:44am. Reason for delay in calling:  NO CELL Phones were working for ANYONE in this disaster due to the deluge of cell phone calls. That too was a part of the disaster for families wanting to hear from loved ones. Then, amazingly, I got a 9:47 train to Greenwich, very crowded of course. Heard on train ride (from man with a small radio) that one tower had “collapsed” but thought maybe that meant the top of one tower may have tilted or come down.

When I walked in to my home at 11am and received and gave an extraordinary, long “hug” from my wife, I then saw the video of first the 2 crashes, and then the unbelievable REAL collapse of both towers. God, it was so close to home and it felt like a computer simulation from Hollywood. I fortunately have not had nightmares of noticeable shock– but I am still very hyper and get pretty cranked up, but that should be acceptable and friends and family will have to take it for a while, I guess. Also, when I got home, Manhattan was completely closed down for all subways,bridges,trains, cars, — everyone was “frozen” for a time in Manhattan.

So, that’s my story. Hope you don’t think this is too long and drawn out, but it’s very therapeutic for me to relate it once I got started.

Best to you all. Keep in touch. Terry