In part, the film “World Trade Center” tells the almost unbelievable story of former Marine Staff Sergeant Dave Karnes. Slate published an excellent account of Karnes’s story in the 2002 column “An unlikely hero” (don’t read the column if you intend to see the film). “World Trade Center” also tells the story of the mystery Marine — “Sergeant Thomas” — about whom nothing was known until the release of the film. Monday’s excellent AP story by David Caruso catches up with Sergeant Thomas: “Mystery 9/11 rescuer reveals himself.” Like Karnes’s story, Thomas’s story is almost unbelievable. We should know these guys and meditate on their inspirational courage.
The AP caption reads:
This photo supplied by Jason Thomas shows him in September 2001, at the World Trade Center site where he helped in the rescue effort following the terrorist attacks in New York. Thomas, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, helped rescue Port Authority police officers John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, but never thought to contact them or anyone else about his role. Even the producers of the new Oliver Stone film, “World Trade Center,” which chronicles the rescue effort, couldn’t find him. Encouraged by an aunt, Thomas has unmasked his identity amid publicity for the film. (AP Photo/Jason Thomas) (AP)
UPDATE: Reader Joseph Chavones writes:
For what it is worth my younger brother John, an MD and Captain in the reserves, was awarded the Army’s Soldier Medal (the Army’s highest peacetime (!) honor) for his role in saving John McLaughlin. John was underground with the officer all night (but I don’t think he is a character in the movie.) From the Army’s Web site:
In the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001, Captain Chovanes at risk to his own life, voluntarily rendered medical aid, and assisted in the rescue of a New York Port Authority officer. The officer was buried well below the surface of the collapsed buildings. Rescue efforts involved slowly digging free the buried officer due to debris being above and around the rescue site. Captain Chovanes administered lifesaving medical treatment throughout the night to the buried officer, under the constant risk that the overhead debris, including girders, and masonry, would collapse on him, the buried officer and the rescuers. The officer was freed on the morning of 12 September 2001.
More detail from the Army here.…Of course, since he is my younger brother he is STILL a punk!
As I said, we really should know these guys.