Mother of Man in Red Bandanna: My Son’s 9/11 Heroism Is Still Saving Lives

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Welles Crowther, pictured on the screen with his mother Alison, during the dedication ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial Museum May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World …
Chang W. Lee-Pool/Getty Images

The story of Welles Crowther’s heroism, chronicled in the book and documentary of the same title, The Man in the Red Bandanna, during the September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorist attacks is still saving lives, said his mother, Alison Crowther, in a Wednesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow.

Alison Crowther recalled the events of the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City, NY, where her son worked in the South Tower as an equities trader before losing his life in the building’s collapse.

“Our son was an equities trader with Sandler O’Neill and Partners,” said Crowther. “Their offices were on the 104th floor of Two World Trade Center, the South Tower. Welles was also a fully trained volunteer firefighter, a member of Empire Hook and Ladder Company Number One, here in Upper 9th, New York. He followed in his father’s footsteps as a volunteer firefighter and the very courageous members of the department, who are just amazing men.”

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After the WTC’s North Tower was struck by the first plane, Welles Crowther and a colleague of his determined to exit the South Tower to offer emergency assistance. As they were descending, the South Tower was struck by the second plane.

Crowther stated, “Welles was in his office on September 11. He was always there early, and he was on the 104th floor when the first plane struck the North Tower. From what reports are that we heard from people in his company that did survive, or through phone calls, Welles said to a colleague, ‘Come on, Stacy. We have to get out of here.’ And he went with another young man with the company who was also apparently a volunteer firefighter, and they left the office. They left the 104th floor to go down and help at the scene of the North Tower. Of course, no one knew what was happening immediately.”

“What we found out over time [is that] Welles must have been somewhere near the 78th floor Sky Lobby,” said Crowther of her son’s location in the WTC’s South Tower when it was struck. “There were express elevators to go down to the ground floor, and he somehow survived the blast of the tower. He had spoken to a college roommate shortly before 9:00, so he was in his office before 9:00, but apparently, he’d gotten down — descended to — the Sky Lobby. We heard nothing from Welles that day, other than a phone call he made to me, which was, ‘Mom, I want you to know I’m okay,’ and I received that call, myself, on my cell phone, about 9:15 in the morning, so after his tower was hit.”

Crowther described her son’s life-saving endeavors on September 11, 2001.

“I was reading the article ‘Fighting to Live as the Towers Died.’ It was put out in the New York Times over Memorial Weekend of 2002, and there I saw references by two women — Judy Wein and Ling Young — to a mysterious man wearing a red bandanna putting out fires, carrying women over his shoulder down to the 61st floor, where they estimated there was still clear air to put the women down,” recalled Crowther.

“That’s when he went down with Ling Young and her group [and] went back up onto the 78th floor to rescue more people,” added Crowther. “That’s when he found Judy Wein. We know it was in that order. … Welles had asked Ling if she could carry a fire extinguisher. She was burned badly all over her body, but she said, ‘Yes, I can carry a fire extinguisher.’ … Welles put the woman over his shoulder. They went down from 78 to 61. Ling said, ‘Do I [still] need to carry this fire extinguisher?’ Welles said, ‘No, you’ll be all right. Just keep going,’ and then when he brought Judy Wein’s group down, she went past that 61st floor area.”

Crowther went on. “We learned that Welles made multiple trips getting people. Ten people, probably 12 people, have been documented that they actually saw Welles, and he got them off the Sky Lobby and saved their lives.”

“He was ultimately recovered,” said Crowther of her son’s body. “When he was recovered in March of 2002, he was found with Don Burns’ group. He was a commander for the FDNY. So [my son] had gotten all the way down to the ground floor, ultimately, and went to keep working with the members of the FDNY, and when they were going back up — we learned this through contacts at the fire department — [they] had jaws of life and were going to go back up to cut people out of the elevators. … So he died with his boots on along with those other brave firefighters.”

A documentary chronicling her son’s life included an anecdote that she had previously been unaware of, noted Crowther.

“Welles, actually, in high school, stepped up and kept a friend of his from getting involved in a knife fight with a really bad kid who was trying to chase after his girlfriend,” Crowther recalled. “All the other kids were standing around watching. These two were confronting each other, and Welles walked up and said to his friend, ‘Look, this other person has nothing to lose. You have everything to lose. Turn around and walk away with me, now.’ And he did. He extracted that man out of a very bad situation.”

The memory and example of her son’s heroism continue to save people’s lives, explained Crowther.

“I had a mom come up to me yesterday,” shared Crowther. “I travel around the country speaking at schools and corporations. Yesterday, I was at Fairfield Prep up in Fairfield, Connecticut, and a mother came up to me afterwards. She was very moved. She said, ‘My son, I was so worried that he was going down a wrong path. I was very worried about him.’ So she said, ‘I gave him all these books.’ The entire school, 800 kids, read The Man in the Red Bandanna this summer.

Crowther continued, “[The mother told me], ‘I gave them Tom and Honor’s book to read. I gave him a red bandanna. I put it in his backpack to carry always, and I had him watch Tom and Honor’s ESPN documentary, The Man in the Red Bandanna, and she burst into tears, and she said, ‘Your son saved my son’s life. He saved my son.’ She was so grateful, and that’s what it took to expose her son to a real person that had these qualities and was able to do these things.”

A person’s example continues as a legacy beyond his or her worldly existence, concluded Crowther. “When I go out and talk, I say to these young people many things, but one of [the things] I say is, ‘The power lies within you to make the difference in this world, to make the difference within you, and to make the difference within this world, and work to bring good into this world. Make the right choices.'”

The Crowther family founded the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust in memory of Welles Crowther, a philanthropic organization that offers scholarships and educational awards, assistance for other non-profit organizations, and drives charitable fundraisers.

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