PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The smell, the dust, and the silence are just a few things retired NYPD Officer John Trubia recalls about September 11th, 2001.
Trubia witnessed the second aircraft hit the south tower of the World Trade Center.
“At first, we didn’t know it was actual bodies that was jumping, we thought it was just debris falling,” Trubia said. “The whole harbor was covered in black smoke.”
John Trubia was an NYPD Officer Assigned to the Harbor Unit working on the water the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“We look up and we see a second plane hit Tower #2… we saw it flying really low, we heard it flying low, and we look up and saw an explosion into the tower,” Trubia recalled in an interview.
Less than an hour later, he would witness that same tower collapse, and everything turn dark.
“Fortunately, we have air condition within the cabin of our boat. But we were strictly running on the radar – a bad foggy day,” said Trubia.
Amidst the smoke and dust, Trubia and his crew would spend the next several hours transporting injured first responders off the island to be treated.
Trubia recalls “Within 10 or 12 blocks of the WTC, there was zero movements of any kind of vehicles – you couldn’t get any medics or ambulances to ground zero. The only means getting someone out of there was via boats.”
It was commonplace for Trubia to spend his day on their launch boat. A typical shift revolved around keeping their waterways safe – between water rescues and responding to any issues with the ferries. But on September 11th- Trubia says an unexpected call not only changed the course of their day – but quite possibly their lives.
“God had a different plan for us that day,” said Trubia.
He and his crew were instructed to pick up a group of military personnel from their harbor station and give them a tour of the New York Harbour, but as soon as they get there, they’re told to immediately turn around because a plane had just hit the World Trade Center.
“We would’ve probably been one of the first 10 responders, my two partners and I, into the towers.. just got pulled away from there,” Trubia says. “That morning it was never on our roll call, we never had any assignment, to this day we don’t know who that personnel was.”
Trubia says Ground Zero resembled a war zone with an overwhelming amount of dust that would dirty his clothes so bad he’d just toss them at the end of the day. He also remembers the uncanny sound of silence.
“The air was silent. There was quiet, in the air,” Trubia said.
Then, Trubia heard air force jets flying overhead. The roar of those jet engines is the only thing he’d hear for the first few days after the terrorist attack.
“The one thing we had to adjust to, that my wife and I had to adjust to, was hearing the F22s fly over. The first time we heard them it was kind of scary. Now it’s music to our ears.”
He and his wife have called the world’s most beautiful beaches home now for the last 14 years. He says he’s proud to call Bay County home.
Trubia says “I’m really thankful for Bay County for remembering with the memorial at the marina, churches, especially my church… and the children are being taught in schools being taught about it, it just helps, that they don’t forget.”
Because it’s a moment in his life he’ll never forget, and a moment the world will remember forever.