Let's Remember The Story Of The Man In The Red Bandana

I was in the third grade when 9/11 happened, and like most people who were relatively conscious humans at the time, I remember almost every detail of the day. I was in said third-grade classroom, sitting on one of the beanbag chairs reading on of the A Series of Unfortunate Events books (the exact book in the series escapes me). An announcement came over the loudspeaker, it was our Principal, Mr. Benfatti. Mr. Benfatti never used the loudspeaker. He announced that there had been an attack on the World Trade Center, which at the time, I had not the slightest clue what that was. Not long after, the first student to be picked up by their parents was out the door. As for the rest of us, we were instructed to remain in the classroom. Then the second student was removed from class, and as an 8-year-old who rather hated school, I began to become jealous. Why did they get to go home and not me? Clearly, I had no comprehension of the gravity of what was happening.
I was the third student to be picked up, and it wasn’t until I got home that I began to truly wrap my head around what had happened  My mom worked in New York City for her entire career. She used to point to the New York City skyline and tell me she worked in ‘the building with the slanted roof.’ As my mom was describing to me coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel and seeing the smoke in the air, I began to realize what was happening. It wasn’t until my mom used the phrase “The Twin Towers” did I realize which buildings the World Trade Center was.
One of the things I remember asking my Mom is why weren’t people more concerned with the Pentagon. “But Mom, why isn’t the news talking about the Pentagon? That’s our government. All of the secrets are there!” Her answer was short, but it got the point across. “Honey, there are more lives in the Twin Towers. More people have lost their families.”
Two of the people who lost their family on September 11 are Jefferson and Allison Crowther, the parents of Welles Crowther. Welles Crowther, who’s known amongst New Yorkers, and Americans, as The Man In The Red Bandana, was a 24-year-old equities trader working in the South Tower, known for saving at least a dozen lives on that day.
When Welles was 6 years old, his father gave him a red bandanna that would become a signature trademark and a link between father and son,  that he would carry with him everywhere, wearing one under all of his sports uniforms in high school. At 16 years old, Crowther joined his father as a volunteer firefighter by becoming a junior member of the Empire Hook and Ladder Company. For college, he attended Boston College, where he played lacrosse, and yes, wore his red bandana under his helmet. After graduating in 1999 with honors with a degree in economics, Crowther moved to New York City, taking a job as an equities trader for Sandler O’Neill and Partners, whose office was on 104th floor of South Tower of the World Trade Center. Crowther had always wanted to be in the trade business, however, once he got there, he eventually came to dislike the monotony desk work, and discussed dreams of joining the FDNY with his father.
Crowther’s family was unaware of the exact details of their son’s death, until Allison Crowther read the firsthand accounts of survivors Ling Young and Judy Wein in The New York Times piece “Fighting to Live as the Towers Died”.

A few minutes behind this group was Ling Young, who also survived the impact in the sky lobby. She, too, said she had been steered by the man in the red bandanna, hearing him call out: “This way to the stairs.” He trailed her down the stairs. Ms. Young said she soon noticed that he was carrying a woman on his back. Once they reached clearer air, he put her down and went back up.
A mysterious man appeared at one point, his mouth and nose covered with a red handkerchief. He was looking for a fire extinguisher. As Judy Wein recalls, he pointed to the stairs and made an announcement that saved lives: Anyone who can walk, get up and walk now. Anyone who can perhaps help others, find someone who needs help and then head down.

Determined to confirm if that was their beloved Welles,  Allison met with the people that Welles had saved, who confirmed through photographs that the identity of the man who aided them was indeed Welles. 
According to survivor accounts, Crowther saved as many as 18 people that day. When Crowther’s body was finally found on March 19, 2002, he was found alongside several emergency workers and firefighters.


If you want to learn more about the life and character of Welles Crowther, you should definitely check out The Red Bandanna: A Life, A Legacy, A Choice

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