Anthony Reyes and Jude Buckley

Recorded May 30, 2015 Archived May 30, 2015 38:59 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddd001271


Anthony (38) talks to his friend Jude (58) about his experience as an NYPD officer during the 9/11 attacks. He remembers the atmosphere of the day and his actions as a first responder. He also talks about the ongoing health issues he's faced along with other first responders.

Subject Log / Time Code

Anthony describes the beginning of his day on 9/11 as he began work as an NYPD officer. He describes witnessing the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Anthony remembers seeing people jump from the towers. Some of the victims were holding hands. He talks about his team responding to the attacks.
Anthony remembers being crushed by a car and thinking he would not make it out. He talks about calling his family to tell them he loved them.
Anthony remembers going to account for those who were missing. Jude asks about Anthony's ongoing involvement post-9/11. Anthony talks about investigating the attacks and working in the morgue.
Anthony talks about the ongoing health issues he's faced post 9/11.
Anthony remembers visiting the 9/11 Memorial and meeting a woman who said police officers helped her the day of the attacks. He was doing the same job they were doing. It brings him comfort.
Anthony remembers how he was feeling when he saw his family after the attacks. He also talks about coping.


  • Anthony Reyes
  • Jude Buckley

Recording Location

National September 11th Memorial and Museum

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type

Fee for Service


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00:03 My name is Anthony Reyes. I'm a retired New York City police detective.

00:08 I'm 38 years old and today's date is May 30th 2015. I'm at the World Trade Center Memorial Museum.

00:18 And the person is going to be interviewing. He's a friend of mine Jude Buckley for many years.

00:26 My name is Jude Buckley. I'm 58 years old today is May 30th.

00:32 I'm at the World Trade Center Museum.

00:38 With my good friend Anthony Ray has to do his interview.

00:44 Anthony

00:46 Tell me about that day. How did your day start? How did you find out about the attack? How did you come to be at the scene?

00:54 I worked for the New York City Police Department at the time. I was a detective in the special investigations unit that worked out of One Police Plaza on several blocks away from here to World Trade Center site was a typical day usually got up at 4 in the morning and hit the road at 5 in the morning drove into the city went upstairs signed in at our office at One Police Plaza.

01:28 Got a couple things together figuring out what I was going to do for that day. What type of Investigations I had ongoing?

01:38 And then the usual thing I went downstairs and got my cup of coffee from a cart that stood outside in the plaza.

01:48 When I was getting a cup of coffee, I'd heard of a large noise, but it wasn't uncommon to hear large noises in that area, especially in the morning because there used to be a garbage truck that would come in and pick up these large garbage bins and drop them. So I didn't think anything of it and it was pretty again pretty, to hear a large noises. I went upstairs sat at my desk and started to drink my cup of coffee and get ready for my day.

02:23 And shortly after that another member of my unit came up and said that the World Trade Center had an explosion most likely was hit by a plane.

02:39 So I wasn't able to see the World Trade Center from my office. I walked around to our commanding officers office. I looked out the window and you can see that the North Tower was some was on fire and you could see things falling out from the whole it's hard to tell what it was. So I wound up grabbing a pair of binoculars to get a better look and you know, when I got the binoculars and I started looking I could clearly see that it was on fire. And actually what I thought was debris was actually people.

03:23 Jumping from the from the North Tower.

03:28 During that time.

03:31 All of a sudden I see the South Tower just explode. I'm from the angle that I was at in the office. You couldn't see what I found out later on was playing and come to the opposite side of what I was looking at on the South Tower and you could see the tower just turn into flames and see the flame start climbing 4 by 4 and a black clouds of smoke.

04:01 And once it got to the top it mushroomed out sort of like that.

04:07 Famous video of the testing of the nuclear bomb in the desert that kind of mushroom cloud dark black mushroom cloud with flames.

04:18 That point we we were mobilized by our commanding officer to suit up for us because we were at detectives unit and we didn't have uniforms. We were dressed in suits and ties playing close as they call it.

04:40 Grab my vest grab my police raid jacket handcuffs radio. I already had my firearm already tied to my son.

04:53 And we met downstairs in front of Police Plaza, which was several blocks away from the World Trade Center. And basically we started

05:04 You know, it's slow jog from Police Plaza, which is just a couple of blocks away to the World Trade Center as we got to Broadway and Vesey Street and turned in on the Block where the church was or is sorry you can see

05:27 Engine parts luggage just rude all across the floor and and we started running west on Vesey.

05:39 To get closer to the the North Tower.

05:45 As we ran on Vesey Street and we got closer to the North Tower. We had to stay on the north side of the street because of debris and also,

05:59 People that were jumping from the North Tower and at one point somebody started screaming that a plane was another plane was coming and we could hear this large engine Roar just coming. So people just started to scatter and I mean, you know the police officers and firefighters that were responding.

06:24 Fortunately at that time it turned out to be a fighter jet and we didn't know we just heard it coming and we tried to run away from the building thinking it was another another plane.

06:40 Once that was done we wound up on Vesey and West Street.

06:45 Which is pretty much we're back in 1993 where we had the command center set up. So the procedures that appeared that we were going to follow we're going to be the same ones that were used in 1993, which I happened back in 1993 to also be there later on that evening guarding the the crime scene of the first bombing.

07:18 So as we were at Westin Vesey Street.

07:24 We started together a game plan, but I believe of the commanding officer realize that the South Tower was more involved in fire than the North Tower. So at that point we proceeded we want West unless you at that point at that point he decided that we need to set up a command center pretty much at Western Liberty, which would be at the corner of the South Tower. So

08:01 We we hurried South on West Street.

08:05 2 Liberty Street, and we stood on an island Jess.

08:12 South of the South Tower walkway

08:16 And our Sergeant was doing a head count and starting to give out assignments and teaming people out as to who was going to go in what building what each job function was going to be as I got to West Liberty.

08:43 It is the most horrible things I saw.

08:47 Was that people were jumping repeatedly? I probably witnessed about 40 people commit suicide.

08:56 Or you know try to escape but whatever was in the tower.

09:04 You must have been a painful choice to decide whether you were going to burn to death or jump to your death. We couldn't even begin to imagine what that would have been like.

09:17 We were telling people to get out of the area. It was a crowd on the opposite side of West Street right where Battery Park city starts in the financial center. And we were telling them you move out of the way get out of here. You can't stay here. So we're trying to move people out as we were getting a game plan together as our boss was getting a game plan together Frost soup to enter into the building.

09:49 You know at one point I actually turned my back on the building while I was standing on the island. I mean it couldn't be more than

09:58 Hundred two hundred feet from

10:03 Whatever the distance from the island to the South Tower. Was it back down to the Vista hotel, which was right at the base of the South Tower?

10:14 And I couldn't watch.

10:18 The people

10:21 Oh that would that were falling.

10:24 We came down in ones and twos and threes. Some of them were holding hands.

10:31 And I was trying to hold the coffee.

10:36 Down

10:38 And I had drank prior to the whole process.

10:43 And as we would get ready to go in with my back turned to the building my

10:51 Commanding officer of my unit starts to scream run and I feel the ground start to shake and I hear like this. I like a set of dominoes just falling this click click click click down. If you ever push Domino's that's what it sounded like.

11:11 And

11:13 He starts telling me the run and he runs south from Liberty and West Street on West Street. So I turn my head and I look back up and I noticed that the tower starting to come down.

11:30 We were at

11:32 So I see a fire truck there and initially was going to hot wonder the fire truck.

11:40 And for whatever reason I decided to run a little further south. I don't know why I thought I could have outrun falling building.

11:52 I managed to get under I ran behind the back of a car that was there on the street cuz I already started getting hit with debris on my back and shoulder and I got under a car and I was able to push myself under from the trunk area pass my pass my hips my feet were sticking out and I remember being under the car facing the South Tower and being able to see the street.

12:30 I could feel the car getting hit I could feel it being rocked and then I see this huge huge black wall.

12:40 To start closing in on the car as I'm looking from under the car forward which would be the engine area some underneath and it's space looking forward and I see this black dark cloud nothing like

12:56 Nothing, like what you see on TV. There was no Dark Cloud No Gray clouds was completely black.

13:03 And as it started coming closer and closer, I wasn't sure if I was going to burn to death or what it was.

13:12 So I started calculating my breathing just so that when it approached the car is going to hold my breath and

13:21 Hopefully, you know.

13:24 Not

13:26 Get burned or whatever it was. Cuz again, it was no way of knowing what it was. It's just a black cloud that is coming towards us Court coming towards me.

13:39 So

13:41 It came and I had my lips to the floor and I was just trying to suck some air. I put my shirt over my mouth trying not to breathe in this much of.

13:55 Whatever it was whose again is just dark is dark and I could feel the you know, I could feel the car. I could feel it getting rocked and hit with stuff and I just kept thinking to myself that if something big hit the car, it would it would crush me and I was praying to God and anybody I could think of.

14:24 After what I later found out to be was about 25 minutes.

14:31 I'm in the only reason why I know.

14:35 More or less how long I was under the cars cuz sometime later I was able to hear.

14:40 NYPD radio Transmissions from the time that the tower fell to the time that I actually got on the radio and started looking for other team members.

14:52 And it was the length of time from the time that Central Command basically said that the tower fell to

15:03 The time I was looking for my supervisor, but while I'm to the car, ironically my Nextel phone actually worked not the cellular part, but the beeping part and I was able to contact my mother who had a phone the Nextel phone and tell her that I loved her.

15:27 And that's at all my kids that I love them also.

15:37 It was just

15:40 It seemed like forever. It really did.

15:43 And at some point, you know, I was just my lips to the ground.

15:50 Just trying to breathe. I remember I couldn't breathe. I couldn't breathe at all and

15:56 Started to realize that I was still alive. I didn't realize how deep or how far it was buried under the car and you I was still under the car and I started to kick my legs and I realized that my legs were okay.

16:13 So no slowly. I started to kick the debris from my legs and it was and push back and push back to the point where I actually got out from under the car.

16:29 At that point, you know, it was a thick gray smoke. It wasn't as black anymore. It was it was thick you really couldn't see anybody until they came up on you. I couldn't breathe at all at all.

16:44 And I remember a fireman running by and

16:48 You know I asked him for for oxygen.

16:53 And he gave me his mass and him and I started breathing on it for.

17:01 For a few minutes and then I started looking for the partner that was with me that day.

17:09 And ironically, you know, he was out of the card out of out in the street too. So we want a hugging each other and he said, you know that he had saw me go under a car. So he did the same thing on the opposite side of street and

17:30 It was at that point that we were just starting to look for you. No other members. We were there with quite a few members from our from our office and everybody was scattered around so we started to look for our supervisor and under 911 on the police radio Transmissions. You can hear them calling for detective Ray as you could hear me calling out for my sergeant and we managed to some of us managed to group into a nearby building and we were in that building while I was coughing up black soot. I mean just vomiting black soot charcoal ash and we were in this building and we took some shell to their we try to clean ourselves up when the second tower fell.

18:26 And I can remember that we were in the building and the second time you could hear the radio transmission second our phones I can dolls Fallin.

18:36 So, you know some of us stood in the middle in the building against a pillar hoping that that would be the strongest part of the building. We could see the windows of the doorway just turned completely black again. You couldn't see you in around it was like somebody had thrown a black cover over the windows and doors.

19:00 So he stood there for a little while not knowing what was going on and eventually what happened was.

19:08 The black smoke turned into a kind of grayish smoking and it started to settle the realize we were missing people from the team and we had to go back and start searching through the South Tower in the North Tower area trying to account for every member that was missing.

19:33 They were about three or four that we can get a hold of and we didn't know till much later on that night that they were they were. Okay, ironically for my team my office. Nobody actually got killed everybody got hurt in some form or another and then what happened?

20:00 I was I guess more fortunate than a lot of the the people that died that day. I remember prior to going from the North Tower to the South Tower location telling to individuals in the ESU emergency service unit to be careful in the building and for a while. I thought about the fact that I was probably the last person to speak to both of them and they didn't make it.

20:35 So we stood there for a while trying to recover people and then at some point later on tonight we went back to

20:47 Headquarters to try and regroup in really account for who was missing who was lost.

20:55 And I remember our supervisor telling us that we are going to you sign out and be back in like 3 hours go home get your clothes and come back and then we were going to actually set up at the morgue.

21:15 So I went home came back. I got some clothes. I left all the way up State and then what happened was at that point.

21:29 Yeah, we were waiting for some stuff to start setting up at the morgue. So me and some of the other people that were there. We went across or next door to NYU Hospital to the emergency room to get seen and you know, they did a bunch of tests. They wanted us to stay but you know, I remember refusing to stay any longer because I figured we had to get back and help you rescue people that were trapped.

22:06 What was your involvement in the following days weeks in months?

22:12 How long after the initial day after September 11th, and we were assigned our division was assigned to the recovery efforts and some people were on the pile. I was specifically assigned to the Morgan stood there doing 12-hour tours 7 days a week till May.

22:41 Of the following year

22:44 And not only were we trying to help identify victims, but I was still conducting investigations into the 9/11 attacks out of the morgue. So we were still handling cases and you cases leads.

23:05 The attackers of 9/11

23:10 How'd you manage to keep going for so many hours without breaks for?

23:16 Six months 8 months

23:20 You know, it's

23:23 It was hard, you know, but at the same time I felt and I'm sure everybody else that we had a purpose and that purpose was to try and give find survivors in trying to give closure to people families who had passed away I had to

23:45 Some friends dye their co-workers. I also had

23:53 One of my maid of Honor's husband.

23:57 Actually perish there too.

24:01 So we were just trying to give closure to people and it was hard. It was hard. I mean the Salvation Army cook for us and the other brought in people to give us the massages and stuff. Just the stress was just unbearable. I mean

24:19 We didn't have equipment or anything like that. In fact, like over a month or so later, you know, the health department came in and we're in the morgue eating and food and stuff then they told us we couldn't do any of that but

24:35 Yahweh we weren't really thinking about ourselves we were looking at the bigger picture.

24:43 It was it was difficult. I had suffered immediate lung damage.

24:53 Never smoked in my life. And now I have asthma and I started with rescue inhalers and stuff. And then I was an avid jogger before that. So you don't trying to take care of myself and do my job and the long hours. It was just it was difficult. You know, we got through. I really can't tell you how that I know what motivated and least me to keep going and I'm sure everybody else.

25:28 What other realm physical and mental After Effects have you suffered from to this day?

25:36 Boeing 2006 I retired from the police department with line-of-duty injury to the heart and lungs

25:49 And you know later on I want up having what they caught in your pathic or unexplained congestive heart failure again, non-smoker Runner. They don't know why the lung damage has been immediate and moderately severe since that day. And so physically, you know, somebody of my age and I just have multiple health issues and I'm not unique there are thousands and thousands of

26:28 First Responders and police officers that you know, if died of really strange cancers lung ailments, I mean they're they're still studying the after-effects. I'm part of the World Trade Center Program it at Mount Sinai.

26:49 And

26:51 No way. We don't know where most of these things come from, but

26:59 You know act in my thirties, I had congestive heart failure for no no reason and the lungs just don't function that much anymore and since 9/11 the number of police officers that have died.

27:18 Due to 9/11 related injuries have exceeded the number of police officers that died.

27:26 On 9/11

27:30 Mentally, it's been up and down hill battle.

27:36 Yo 4 months. I couldn't sleep I had bad nightmares.

27:41 I am

27:43 Sleep with a night-light again. I hadn't done that since I was a kid. I think that is mainly from being in the dark buried under the car the darkness that lasted a long time.

27:59 Before I could get rid of the night light.

28:05 My coworker who is with me started carrying a mini flashlight on his belt ever since that day and we spoke about it and he said he never wants to be in the dark again.

28:18 Survivor guilt is huge.

28:22 And why I survived versus other people is a constant struggle for me, and I'm sure for a lot of people.

28:36 The fact that you know, I'm sick now.

28:41 Hertz is I don't know, you know at 38 years old with bad lungs bad heart stuff.

28:52 I mean, I'm hoping I'm going to get to see my youngest kid to graduate.

28:58 Get to meet my grandkids.

29:01 And there's always a thought that

29:07 I didn't do enough and I didn't.

29:10 Get the opportunity to make it fully into the building and make it into the building at all.

29:17 And you know how people come down. I mean afterwards. Yeah, but

29:24 There is nobody to help.

29:27 There is nobody to help.

29:31 Ironically when the plane crashed in November in Queens and they thought that it was related to a terrorist attack. We got sent down because we were in the morgue and fortunately there.

29:49 I felt a little better because we were able to recover every single body. Unlike what we did at the World Trade Center seeing

30:00 All the body parts. I mean the the amount of people that were rescued.

30:07 Was small an amount of people that

30:13 Whose bodies were recovered where small the bigger aspect was the

30:20 The body parts in the thousands and thousands and thousands.

30:26 Of those things those individuals

30:31 You just mentioned your frustration of not being able to do more earlier. You mentioned moving people out of the area to have a story to tell about that.

30:42 Last year 2014. I came to the World Trade Center.

30:50 Memorial the museum for the first time

30:54 And I got here early.

30:58 Y'all so I sat with my son's on a bench on a concrete bench outside.

31:05 And I had a you know it 911 shirt with an NYPD logo.

31:14 It said never forget and some woman came up and said that first of all she wanted to ask me if I was a first responder and I said, yes, and we started talking and she said that she was actually at Weston Liberty and if it wasn't for some police officers that were telling her to move on if she would have

31:41 Yo.

31:43 And I know they gave me a little comfort knowing that when we were telling people to move out of the area that maybe I don't know if it was me or one of the other hundreds of police officers, but you'll maybe maybe that was one life that you know, we helped safe.

32:05 Again, it was with heart. It's hard and in.

32:13 I think the

32:17 The hardest part

32:20 Is

32:23 You'll now that I've seen more people sick, and I'm talk about First Responders.

32:29 More people dying is that we walk around in pain a lot mental pain.

32:39 The physical pain

32:42 I know from personal experience. You don't share the story with very many people and I feel honored to be one of those few from way back.

32:54 What made you come forward for this project? And what would you like to see come out of this Memorial?

33:03 I probably told the story maybe three times in my

33:10 In my life in its entirety as I could recall it this being the third time.

33:20 I am first of all, I want everyone to remember that.

33:25 Remember what happened here to remember?

33:29 The people that died on 9/11

33:33 I also want them to remember.

33:36 The sacrifices of the First Responders that are still walking around today.

33:41 In pain and hurting

33:45 And dying slowly

33:49 Which often times for me feels more like a curse?

33:53 Sometimes I wish I would have just died that day rather than live with the the feelings in the emotional pain.

34:03 And I want the opportunity for the military people that have served during this time and given their life in the family of those that died fighting to know that they're fighting for real cost. Forget the politics forget everything else.

34:22 People died here that day.

34:25 And that should never happen again.

34:28 It should never happen.

34:34 Should never happen again on American soil?

34:37 We need to make sure that my kids your kids.

34:42 Nobody's kids ever have to go to that again.

34:47 And if this could put some awareness that's the only reason why.

34:59 Short

35:16 You know, I didn't think I was going to see them again. I couldn't the phone wasn't working for my kids. In fact, my kids were in Florida visiting their grandmother and my my wife was doing Hospice of her grandmother at the time.

35:33 So I couldn't get through to her. And like I said the cell phone feature didn't work, but the next tell point-to-point work and you know, my mother was asking me what happened. Where was I I didn't tell her I just said just want you to know I love you and that

35:54 You know tell the kids. I love them to everyone that. I love them. I mean at that point.

36:00 I didn't think I was going to live.

36:03 I had no idea how much debris had fell on the car whether it was two stories or two feet.

36:11 You know, it's ironic cuz the car that I was under got beat up but didn't get crushed in the fire truck that I was going to go under actually got crushed. I saw pictures of it later on this. I'm glad I didn't go on to the fire truck, but I didn't think I was going to live.

36:33 So what was it? Like when you saw them again when you saw your wife and and your kids?

36:41 It was amazing. I mean it took a couple of weeks again, cuz they were in Florida for hospice. I remember watching the flight on flight tracker tracking it from Miami all the way back to New York and just praying that nothing happened to that plane. I was glued to it until they landed and it was just an amazing feeling to see them and hear them.

37:10 And to be to be there with them again.

37:21 Or still going on today. How do you think you cope? What is it that keeps you going?

37:33 I don't know. I mean I've often thought about that meme.

37:38 You know, I think that people need to know what really happened and you know, I hear stories all the time from people that weren't there and you can tell who was in the actual person that survived versus someone who gives you a story that they were in the shopping mall when they heard about it this pain there's pain and I think what keeps me going is that at least now that I want people to know there are other people that are still suffering in

38:14 And I think that the driving factor is that we're trying to let people know that we need to prevent this and

38:23 And I think that's the reason why it keeps us going some of us.

38:28 Unfortunately, I'm sure some people didn't make it.

38:33 Committed suicide or you don't have other mental and health issues, but I couldn't really give you the best answer. It's unknown.

38:49 Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity.