By Manny Badillo, Victim’s Family Member, August 7th, 2007
“Standing outside the firehouse with my buddies, we were talking about how beautiful the day was. Then just like that, our lives changed forever. Some of those guys I would never see again.”
In this exclusive interview, Firefighter Schroeder recollects in great detail how he was one of the first firefighters to rush to the complex. “We first assembled on
As they were making there way up the floors, Firefighter Schroeder heard a huge explosion. “The elevators just blew right out. We couldn’t believe it. The plane hits 80 floors up but the elevators explode at least five minutes later? It was unreal.”
Firefighter Schroeder made it all the way up to the 23rd floor before barely hearing on the failing radios that another plane was coming in. That plane would hit the
The stairwells were black, and at that point, firefighters were making the decision to head back down stairs. In making there way down to the third floor, they were not able to find an exit. “The lobby was like a war zone. We could not find our way out. Then, all of a sudden, one of the maintenance workers had a key that opened a back door that got us out of there. He saved my life.” That worker was Willie Rodriguez. “I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
Firefighter Schroeder today has lost 40% of his lung capacity. “We haven’t been treated properly at all. From the day of the attack, our physical and mental health has deteriorated and it seems as if no one cares. To lose friends, to have to recover their bodies in the days after, to be offered no protections against that horrific-smelling dust that was everywhere even though the government said the air was OK to breathe is just not right.” Some of Firefighter’s Schroeder’s best friends have gotten out of the FDNY altogether while others accepted money and trips to help. “I stayed right here and did the right thing and now it feels as if I’m suffering the most. Where is our government to help the one’s with the toughest jobs on that day and the days after?”
John Schroeder, we want to thank you for being as brave as your job requires in speaking out about your experiences on Sept/ 11th. You have set the historical record straight by explaining your story. This Nation is forever greatful to you as your account will help to save and protect many more lives.
Today, tens of thousands of such 9/11 first responders are in dire need of medical care due to the environmental conditions after the 3 towers imploded at Ground Zero. Diagnosed with cancers and debilitating respiratory illnesses, these true American heroes have been denied the financial benefits required to save their lives. While suffering and deteriorating, their health crisis has been ignored by state and federal policy. Many have already died.
Composed of family members, friends and fellow Americans of individuals who perished on that fateful day, We are Change will fight to raise awareness and consciousness to the first responder's illnesses and hardships. We are determined to put a face to the thousands of forgotten victims of the 9/11 attacks 6 years later.