ARCENT Soldier remembers New York City on 9/11 anniversary
September 8, 2006
KUWAIT (Army News Service, Sept. 8, 2006) - Staff Sgt. Ruihu Wu is a member of the Army Reserve's New York-based 436th Movement Control Battalion. He is currently deployed to Kuwait with the 143rd Transportation Command. On Sept. 11, 2001, Wu was working at a New York City law firm, one building away from the World Trade Center towers. Five years later, this is what he has to say.
Where were you during the attacks'
One building over from the World Trade Center, right across the street. I usually got to work at about 7 a.m., so I was there about an hour before the first plane hit. When the first plane hit, the whole building shook, I mean literally shook. I looked out the window, and all I saw was smoke coming out. I told my workers and my buddy, "Listen, this is not an accident. Are you ready to go' Because I'm packing my bag." My boss wanted to wait and see, notify the higher-ups. Finally, as we were leaving, the second tower got hit, and that's when everybody started running. All the roads were closed in Manhattan, so we all walked, ran. We walked to the Brooklyn Bridge. When I got to the bridge, that's when the first tower collapsed. I was shocked. I was totally shocked. By the time I got to the other end of the bridge, the second tower collapsed. Everyone was upset, afraid, crying. It was a long walk home - it took me three hours.
What did the scene look and feel like'
Most of the people were just standing there with tears in their eyes. The dust was horrible. The burns were horrible. The next day my neck was just burning. Probably like 20 meters in front of you, you couldn't see a thing. The next day, going back to ground zero, it was like walking in a snowstorm, but it was just dust.
What role did you as an Army Reservist play in the aftermath'
I called one of my guys, and the first thing we did was put on our uniforms and try to get to Manhattan to help whoever needed it. The National Guard was activated already. Most of the time, they would ask what our job was. When I said, "Transportation," they'd say, "All we need is medic, medic, medic..."
What did New York City look like after the attacks'
Manhattan was a ghost town. All you saw was police, firefighters, ambulances, National Guard.
You moved to Florida afterward, then deployed to Iraq and again to Kuwait. What was it like when you returned to NYC after being gone so long'
I drove by ground zero when I was on leave. You think back and the tears start coming. You just cry. The memories of that long walk to the bridge, of people passing away, it's just sad. It's sad. You never forget.
How did it feel to see New Yorkers coming together to help one another out'
It was the greatest thing I've ever seen. So many people offered rides to random strangers. So many people tried to help.
Is the War on Terrorism more personal for you because you lived in the city that was attacked'
This is what I think. If they hit us, we have to hit them back harder. Period. If you don't go after the terrorists, they'll keep hitting us. What they want is to end human life. If we don't stop them, guess what - more buildings will be blown up and more people will die. I think this war has been worth it. We've had a lot of deaths, but it's protecting the future for America. We can't kill every terrorist, but if you keep them running, they won't have the time or money to plan another attack. Sometimes you just wish, though, that we would have hit them early, before 9/11.