Texas Border Business
Lt. Joe Torrillo was a 25 year Lieutenant with the NYC Fire Dept. who is now retired on disability. He spent the first 15 years of his career in Engine Company # 10, across the street from the South Tower of the World Trade Center. While recuperating from a severe injury on New Year’s Eve of 1996 going in to 1997, Joe was assigned to convalesce in the office of fire safety education. On the morning of September 11, 2001 Joe was about an eighth of a mile away from the World Trade Center, when American Airlines Flight #11 struck the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. Fearing for his Firefighter brothers in Engine Co. 10 and Ladder Co. 10 across the street from the Towers, Joe diverted to the scene to render assistance. At 9:03 a.m., the second jet, flew over Joe’s head and slammed in to the South Tower. While Joe was involved in the rescue operation, the South tower fell at 9:59 a.m. Joe was buried alive with a fractured skull, broken ribs, broken arm, crushed spine and heavy internal bleeding. Shortly after being found alive in the rubble, they removed Joe on a long spine board and placed him on the deck of a boat on the Hudson River, with the expectation of getting him to a hospital. As emergency personnel were holding his split scalp together, the North Tower fell and buried Joe alive again. About 45 minutes later, Joe was once again rescued from the debris, and taken across the Hudson River, where he awoke in a hospital room at the Jersey City Trauma Center in New Jersey. Because he was wearing a borrowed set of firefighting clothing with the name Thomas McNamara, Joe was mis-identified by that name, and Joe was declared missing for 3 days. By the time the sun set on the evening of September11, 2001, Joe had miraculously survived the collapse of both Towers, but with life-long injuries. Today Joe Torrillo travels the world as a professional speaker with a quest to make our country the “Re-United States of America”, resurrecting patriotism, trumpeting the men and women of the Armed Services, mentoring adolescents, and inspiring audiences of all sizes to embrace change and never give up on their dreams.