Breaking News
Police Shortage Hits Critical Mass         Troopers Accused in OT Scam         DROP Lawsuit: Judge Rules Against Cops         The Real Reason They’re After Your Pension? Money!         DROP Program Getting Negative Press         Millennials, White-collar Workers Bringing New Life to Unions         New Study Reveals Police Rarely Use Force         Fake Cop Badges are Everywhere         Best Path for a Trim, Healthy Body         Teachers Get 5% After Strike; Victory for Cops, Too!         When is Police “Use of Force” Justified?         Police Unions & the Video Craze         Scary Day for Police Unions         Night Tours Can Hurt Your Health         Stress Weakens Brain Power; Exercise Can Bring It Back         Police Association President Arrests Suspect—On His Street!         An Assault on Common Sense         NYPD Sergeant Acquitted On All Charges         Fingerprint Scanner to Track On-the-job Time         New Jersey Cops Fighting for Their Pensions         Police and Attorney Say “No Way” to Restrictive Use of Force Policy         Jury Is Out On This Police Review Board         A Police Union With Power!         Stressed-Out Officers: Gone After Eight Years         More Union Members in 2017         Police, Fire Lose Court Fight Over Pensions         Baltimore Discovers It Wants and Needs Its Police         VIDEO: Austin Cops Leaving in Droves         Off-Duty Jobs Scam Uncovered         Deputies Demand $500,000 In Back Pay         Stressed Out Officers, Gone After 8 Years         City Scrambles to Save Pensions         Police Boss Gets Jail Time, Rank and File Up In Arms         CONTRACT REJECTED! Younger Officers Upset With High Healthcare Costs         Police Pensions Protected (For Now)         Let’s Support Firefighters; Cops Will Be Next         Man With a Plan         FBI Will Not Investigate Detective’s Homicide         What About “Warning Shots?” The Debate Continues         Dallas 9-1-1 Back On Track         Hope for Pay Raises in St. Louis         VIDEO: NYC Hero Cop Speaks         New Policies on Deadly Force         ALADS Continues Legal Fight Over “Brady” List         Cops Forgo Raise to Keep 4-3 Schedule         One Cop’s Take On Colin Kaepernick         VIDEO: “We Brought Our Brother Home”         LISTEN: No Sleep? You’d Better Fix That!         VIDEO: What Really Happened         ACLU: Detective’s Right to Free Speech Was Violated         Time To Stop the Finger Pointing         If Things Go Bad, You Need a Plan         Dear Anthem Protesters: Police are Not the Enemy         Real Police Facing Private Takeover         Hard Work, Heartache, and a Lot of Love         VIDEO: Harvey’s Horrific Aftermath         VIDEO: Keeping World Leaders Safe         Bill Bratton On the Future of American Policing         Who Will Pay for New Contract?         VIDEO: Detectives Fight Plan to Cut Pensions         Taking Care of Others, Then Our Own         Public Support For Unions is Growing         Minneapolis Considering Residency Incentives         VIDEO: Cop Battling Cancer is Harvey Hero         VIDEO: Dancing With the Cops?         Cops Speak Out Against Use of “Thin Blue Line” by Hate Groups         What Is the Arnold Foundation Hiding?         Decision May Violate Officers’ Rights         Court Deems Evergreen Clause Constitutional         No Raises for Cops; $140M for Stadium         Philly Cops Win $8M O.T. Settlement         We Condemn Nazis and White Supremacists         Mounties Face Crisis, No Solution in Sight         Push to Oust Louisville PD Chief Intensifying         CSLEA is Newest Member of PubSecAlliance         Ford is Fixing the Problem         “It’s Been An Honor to Work With Chief Marshman”         Automatic Dues Collection Under Attack         Cops Use Video to Go for Pay Raise         Understaffed Leads to Rise In Crime         R.I.P. Deputy Haak         Ruling On Body Cams: Use Must Be Negotiated         Rochester Police Locust Club (NY) Joins PubSecAlliance         Officer Acquitted Of Negligent Homicide         Texas Cops Oppose Anti-Union Bill         Insults Divide, Decency Unites         FOP Prez Threatened, Police Investigate         VIDEO: Sergeant’s Indictment Prompts Outpouring of Support         VIDEO: Sounding the Alarm On a Manpower Crisis         VIDEO: Dramatic Body Cam Footage!         VIDEO: Police Union Advises Action Amid “Breaking Point”         VT First State to OK Compensation for PTSD         Officer Suicides: Agencies Must Do More         Outsiders Clamor for Police Contract Changes         Governor Furloughs Workers, Hits the Beach         Recruit the Best at U.S. Army Reserves         VIDEO: Sergeant Charged With Murder 2         R.I.P. Officer Korchak         More Officers Taking Own Lives         Pride in Honoring Our Own         A Tale of Two Chiefs         New Accountability System Gives Civilians More Power         Police Unions Call for “Rational Voice”         Texas Moves to Save Pensions         City Refuses to Pay Officer’s Legal Bills         Rank and File Question Dubious Hiring         The Mounties Have Never Had to Contend With a Union         Police Week: Anguish, Anger, Empathy         Rookies Sue for OT Pay During Academy Training         FLSA Pay Ruling: Use Cash, Not Benefits         Record Crowd Attends Annual Candlelight Vigil         Everyone Needs Sleep, Especially Cops         Questions Raised About New John Jay President         Hennepin County Sheriff Joins NYPD Shield Program         Big Surprise: Paper Misrepresents Contract Talks         County Budget Leaves Us Underfunded         VIDEO: Omaha Unions Say No to Gov         City Says “No Police Floats” In Parade         One-Minute Man         Is This the Solution to Cop Shootings?         Ingredients for Better LE Outcomes         Why the Police Need Unions         Mounties Demand a Union & Contract         Indebted to Some Very Brave People         We’ve Been Abandoned by Politicos, Command Staff         VIDEO: The Most Hated Man In Pensionland         Underfunded Pensions: a Disaster Waiting to Happen         Another Ambush Attack!         Today, It’s You; Tomorrow, It’s a Security Guard         VIDEO: NJ Police May Get Control of Unfunded Pensions         Thousands of Officers to Get BIG Bonuses         Improving Economy Hurts LE Recruitment         Another Fundraising Scam         Threats to Police Retirement Programs Escalate         Conflict Rises, Billboards Go Up         NJ Unilaterally Changing Police Contract         Pensions Slowly Being Reduced and Replaced         Baltimore Chief: “No More Plainclothes”         When Will All This Stop?         Top Police Union Leader Joins Protest         VIDEO: “Line of Duty” is HERE!         Chicago Cops Get Thanks They Deserve         Mayors Missing as Pension Fund Goes Down         Pension Bill Draws Protest         Deputies Association Hires High-Powered PR Exec         Finally, a Contract for NYPD Officers         Nebraska Corrections Officers Seek Out F.O.P.         Outrage Grows Over Pension Plans in Peril         Sanctuary Cities: Police vs. Mayor         Police Unions Seek to Overhaul Obama’s Reforms         Super Bowl Security         Look Hard at Your Pension Fund         Pension Mediation Talks Cease; Lawsuit Looms         How Much Would You Pay for Policing?         Hazardous Workplace         Officers Leaving in Droves         Technology, Police, and Privacy         Fake Guns Destroy Lives         War Against Unions Gaining Ground         Washington D.C. Police Union in Turmoil         Teamsters Face 20% Cut in Pension Benefits         Body Cam Screw-ups Lead to Mistrial         VIDEO: Body Cam Catches Shootout         Restraining Order for Black Lives Matter Leader         New Chief Has Fight On His Hands         Pension Panic Spreads         Carrots and Sticks         Another Agency May Fold         Community and Police Join in Prayer         VIDEO: We Are There For You!         Feds Seek Repeat of Disastrous Police Hiring Practices         VIDEO: Officer’s Gift of Kindness Keeps on Giving         Is Trump Going After Collective Bargaining Rights?         Police Union Not “App”y         Police Union Fights Back Against Budget Cuts         Police Union Reinstates Body Cam Program         Citizen Wants Officer Fired for FB Post         VIDEO: Use of Force Policy Fiasco         Attacks on Law Enforcement         VIDEO: Where Is the Outrage?         Millions May Lose Overtime Pay         Mayor Violates Officer’s Right to Due Process         VIDEO: Police Union Heals With Song         State Moves to Nix Benefits From Collective Bargaining         City, Officer Cleared in Wrongful Death Case         Trump Puts OT, Benefits On Chopping Block         VIDEO: A World Without Law Enforcement         VIDEO: Shake It Off         HUGE Refund for AZ Public-Safety Pensioners         Eloquent Goodbye         Cheerleader In Chief         The Trouble With Trauma         Shocking News About Local Gov Pension Funds         See You In Court!         One of the Good Guys         Chief Resigns After No-Confidence Vote         Zika Virus Hits Cops         Iowa Officers Ambushed         Policing the Police         For Real Community Policing, Let Officers Do Their Jobs        
By September 11, 2016 Read More →

9/11: A Look Back

Rich Miller (right) and Richie Hartigan one year after the attacks of September 11. Miller and Hartigan raised the first flag at Ground Zero for their fallen comrades. Two days later there were hundreds of American flags flying at the place where the World Trade Center buildings stood. That proud symbol gave hope to Americans everywhere that we were strong and we would survive.

Rich Miller (right) and Richie Hartigan one year after the attacks of September 11. Miller and Hartigan raised the first flag at Ground Zero for their fallen comrades. Two days later there were hundreds of American flags flying at the place where the World Trade Center buildings stood. That proud symbol gave hope to Americans everywhere that we were strong and we would survive.

When the first plane hit the World Trade Center, Rich Miller was sound asleep. He was scheduled to attend a diver rescue training exercise at noon and was using the rare free morning to get some extra rest. When his wife woke him and told him what happened, he ran into the living room just in time to see the second plane smash into the South Tower. He threw on some clothes, kissed his wife and youngest daughter Nikki goodbye, jumped in his car and drove straight to the Bronx.

When he pulled into the police station parking lot, he saw John McCullough. The two men found a pickup truck loaded up with rescue equipment and quickly headed toward the Trade Center. As they raced down the West Side Highway, the North Tower began to fall.

“Before that happened, voices were coming through pretty clear over the division radios,” Rich recalled. “I could even recognize certain people. But when the North Tower fell, there was dead silence.”

Rich Miller raises the first American flag at Ground Zero the day following the terrorist attacks. Richie Hartigan, also assigned to the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit, is right below Rich on the ladder. The only sound that could be heard was an FDNY Battalion Chief yelling, “Present Arms,” as Rich secured the flag on to the antenna, which had fallen from the top of the Trade Center’s North Tower. (Photo courtesy Bill McNulty, NYPD/TARU (Ret))

Rich Miller raises the first American flag at Ground Zero the day following the terrorist attacks. Richie Hartigan, also assigned to the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit, is right below Rich on the ladder. The only sound that could be heard was an FDNY Battalion Chief yelling, “Present Arms,” as Rich secured the flag on to the antenna, which had fallen from the top of the Trade Center’s North Tower. Photo courtesy Bill McNulty, NYPD/TARU (Ret.)

As they got closer and the streets became narrower, Rich remembers people jumping out of the way when they saw the pickup truck piled with equipment. “It was like the sea was parting,” he said.

When a major disaster occurs in New York City with hundreds, if not thousands, of possible fatalities and injuries, every available officer assigned to the Emergency Service Unit gets his or her equipment and reports to the command post. When Miller and McCullough got down to the site, ESU commanders had already assembled several rescue teams to go into the rubble and start saving lives. By this time, the Pentagon had been hit and everyone was preparing for the worst.

Despite the catastrophe unfolding before them, ESU officers grabbed their entry tools and medical bags and rushed toward the towers. Just as the cops from Team Five entered the South Tower, the building fell and buried the six-member team. Miraculously, they dug themselves out, regrouped, and went back into rescue mode. While every other person was running away, the cops and firefighters were going back in.

As Team Five returned to the North Tower, steel girders began to fall. Then came the bodies, people who decided to leap to their deaths rather than be enveloped in fire. There was blinding dust and horrendous noise. Members of Team Five had lost all their equipment, and they could barely see. Along with a group of firefighters and other police officers, they managed to form a human chain. As soon as they were lined up, they began passing traumatized and injured people down the line, one to the next, until they were safely out.

It was only twenty-nine minutes after the first tower collapsed when the North Tower started to go. “Debris was literally raining,” Richie Hartigan recalled. Richie frequently partnered with Rich Miller and was one of the officers on Team Five.

“The ground was heaving like an earthquake,” Hartigan continued. “Steel was crashing down everywhere. I cannot describe how loud it was. It sounded like two freight trains coming right at you. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Everyone was choking on the dust. Shards of glass were everywhere.”

Death was random. Who lived and who died all came down to luck. Some made it out, some didn’t. The NYPD lost 23 officers in the World Trade Center attacks. That included fourteen of twenty-nine Emergency Service officers who ran into the buildings but never came out. Three members of Team Five were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, including a lieutenant whose hand was almost completely severed.

Rich said everywhere you looked there were fires. “The smoke and dust were awful. We were worried about so many innocent victims and our buddies who still had not come out.”

Miller and his team were instructed to go as far down into the wreckage as possible. “We hoped we would find people who were still alive,” he recalled. “Three or four floors below street level, we began using hydraulic entry tools to cut into the vehicles. We thought the steel around the car might have protected them, but we never found anybody.”

Despite the grim situation, it took a long time before Rich and his fellow officers faced the reality that many of their colleagues were not coming out alive. “We really believed we were going to find them,” he said. “We wanted them to see the American flag waving when they came out.”

The Department had set up a command center at the Stuyvesant High School a couple of blocks north of the Trade Center. Rich remembered seeing a flag on the stage in the school’s auditorium. That’s the flag, he thought, we will fly at Ground Zero.

The following morning Rich and his team were back conducting searches in the third-floor subbasements of the collapsed towers. “At some point we decided to crawl back up to street level,” he said. “We were climbing over this huge pile of debris on all fours. As we made our way up toward Buildings Four and Five, we came across this gigantic crater. That’s when I saw the bronze globe that stood between the South and North Towers. It was damaged but still intact. Lying next to it was an antenna from the North Tower.”

Rich turned to Richie Hartigan. “That’s our flagpole,” he said.

After asking Thomas Purtell, Chief of the Special Operations Division, for permission to take the flag from the Stuyvesant High School back to the site, the two officers found a pickup truck. They got as far as Church and Dey before a mass of fallen debris forced them to stop. Carrying the folded flag on his shoulder, Rich almost lost his balance walking across a steel beam trying to get back to the antenna.

Rich asked a battalion chief to help him find a ladder. Two firefighters quickly got one from their truck. With Richie Hartigan behind him, Rich climbed the ladder and attached the flag to the antenna. As the battalion chief yelled out, “Present arms,” there was dead silence. Everyone stopped and saluted the flag fluttering in the gray dust and wind.

“Everyone there helped get that flag up,” Rich said, “police officers, firefighters, construction workers, ironworkers, and medical personnel. Richie Hartigan and I were the ones up on the ladder, but they were all right behind us. After our flag went up, each time we came above ground, more flags were flying. The day after that, there were hundreds of flags. If our flag inspired other flags to go up and those flags inspired a nation, I am proud to have been a part of that. Our country had taken a heavy hit, but seeing all those American flags made me confident we would survive and we would rebuild.”

Excerpted from Brave Hearts: Extraordinary Stories of Price, Pain and Courage by Cynthia Brown, publisher of American Police Beat.  Available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and at

Posted in: Tales of Triumph

Comments are closed.