Tony Rose: Fighting to Live and Save Others
By Rob Hull
The 700 Club
CBN.com-“After seeing the second plane hit, you just knew that it was not an air traffic controller issue, it was not an accident. Somebody was attacking our country.”
Tony Rose watched the World Trade Center terror attacks from a TV in his office. As a Sergeant Major in the Army he knew to immediately secure important documents. What he didn’t know was that his wing of the Pentagon was the terrorist’s next target.
“Boom! The building shook. I mean, it’s almost as though that building was on an earthquake line. It literally shook. People were down, people were screaming, people were hurt. If you were standing up and in that fireball, you die. People would just disintegrate.”
Terrorists had crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into Tony’s section of the Pentagon. Just above his head the fire burned at 2300 degrees.
“Whatever that touched, it would incinerate. That fire was taking air from wherever it could get it and if it meant your lungs, that where it took it from. I hit the wall so hard that it was like a body slam. I couldn’t breathe in, I couldn’t breathe out. Time slows down. ‘Am I alive?’ ‘Is this real?’ I was scared to death.”
But Tony says he knew he was still alive for a reason.
“The Lord already knew the number of my days. If I was meant to be dead right now, I would be dead. But if I was not dead, then I ought to be doing something. And slowly sounds start coming back. At that point I got to my knee and started waving people past me, to escort people outside of the building. And we would clear people as quickly as we could below the smoke. And then after that, when no one else was moving, we went into the smoke and the flame to find the people that we knew had not come out.”
Tony went back into the burning building five times, working his way deeper into the intense heat and smoke pulling out survivors.
“Everything was hot. The closer that we worked into the building toward the E-ring to try to find people, of course the hotter it was. The real issue about going back in that day was what I learned at the knees of my mom and my dad, my Sunday School teachers, the elders of the church. You see, because that’s what gave me a heart for other people. But there was still an assurance that I was right there at that time for that reason to do whatever it was I could to help. That day people needed help.”
The reality of the attack didn’t set in until later when Tony found pieces of the jet and a hand from a child passenger.
“I got so angry, I got so terribly angry, because I realized that somebody literally had come home to my home, attacked my country, attacked my family, attacked my flag. You know, ‘Why did this kid have to die? Why did this little kid have to die?’”
“All these people had personalities; all these people had a family. And they had a contribution in a part of our country. I don’t want them to be forgotten. Not just for themselves, but if we forget them, then we forget the fact that there is someone out there who does not like our flag, who does not like our country. I don’t want America to forget that we really are in a war. In a war that’s not just in some distant land, it’s right here in this country, it’s right now and all of us have a part in that, and the only way they’re going to know is if we remember.”
That night, as the adrenalin wore off, Tony realized he was wounded.
“I thought that any blood that I had on my uniform was from people that we had pulled out, not from me. And when I pull off my shirt and found pieces of steel in my abdomen and that’s when I noticed the burns and the cuts and the pieces of glass.”
His injuries healed quickly, the emotional wounds have taken longer. Tony retired from the military a year after the attacks. He became a licensed therapist; helping others, and himself, find hope in the midst of tragedy.
“I know that if I’m going to do what I was meant to do on this Earth, I need to stand tall and be a Christian soldier. And that’s by sharing the Word of God with other people. That’s what I believe. That’s my commission from God. Jesus said to do it. That’s what I need to do. The biggest thing that I’ve prayed for since 9-11 has been for the good Lord to allow me to see people as an eternal soul. No matter what they look like, and then maybe I will be able to see this person without bias, without preconceived notions and prejudices. And then maybe I can really hear what this person has to say, or say something to them that they need to hear.”
“There hope that’s coming out of 9-11 and that’s what people need to hear. And when you’ve got that hope, then you’ve got a confidence and energy to be able to go out and do what you need to do. And for me, my hope, that’s Jesus.”
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