Personal Stories Shared During 9/11 Memorial Service

Howell Police Honor Guard Ordered the Arms within the structure dedicated to Howell victims of the 9/11 tragedy. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  HOWELL – Local officials and community members gathered at the township’s 9/11 memorial to honor and remember the heroes and victims of the tragic events that unfolded 22 years ago.

  Police Chief John Storrow led the touching ceremony, which began with the Howell Police Honor Guard ordering arms as a symbol of respect and honor for the fallen. The Howell High School Rebel Remix set a somber tone for the evening with their moving performance of the National Anthem.

  The service also included an invocation by Pastor Harold Harmon of Howell Community Church and a benediction by Pastor Chris Teis of Open Door Bible Baptist Church. Both offered prayers of solace, strength and unity for the community.

A wreath commemorated those lost. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  September 11, 2001 remains etched in the memories of all who were alive on that date. Most people can vividly recall where they were when they first received the shocking news of the nation coming under attack. Two members of the governing body shared their personal recollections of that fateful day.

  “I was working at Kimball Medical Center at the time, and we were on high alert for all the people who lived in Monmouth and Ocean counties,” shared Mayor Theresa Berger.

  “It was the most scary and devastating thing that everybody was there ready,” Berger continued. “There was nobody coming home. That’s a day we should never forget.”

  Berger added the name of a family member who lost his life during the attacks on the World Trade Center. Michael Raguso was just 29 years old and a probationary firefighter from Engine 279 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Firefighters salute as the bell tolls at the end of the Memorial Service. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  Councilman Fred Gasior was in his last year as a state trooper when the attacks occurred. He recalled driving into Division headquarters as the scene began to unfold.

  “No one really knew what was going on,” said Gasior. “A captain and I went into what’s called the War Room in emergency management. We had a firsthand view. We can never forget all the people who sacrificed their lives.”

  “That includes  Lt. Col. Fred Marrone, who I worked for, and who was the head of the Port Authority,” Gasior continued. “He went into one of the towers and was never seen again.”

  Gasior added that he had five or six friends who passed away from issues associated with the conditions at the site of the attack.

  Retired Howell Police Sgt. Chris Hill, who also runs the Police Athletic League, offered one of the most compelling remembrances of the event. He admitted to the crowd that he had held back before. However, this year was different.

  “I feel that it’s time to say something because the officer from Howell Township that saved his life is currently suffering,” said Hill.

Members of the Howell High School Rebel Remix opened the service with the National Anthem. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  Hill said that he and Detective Cpl. Eric Rice were dispatched to the scene as members of the Howell Tactical Team. They were the only ones activated from Monmouth County of the twelve deployed.

  “We were just told to be ready and go handle this,” Hill shared. “We did so without knowing what we were responding to – whether there was going to be a ground attack or something else going on.”

  As a member of the critical response team, Hill remained at the site for three months. No one on site was permitted to leave without meeting with someone from the mental health team. The fear was that any of the first responders would be so distraught by what they’d seen that they could go home and do something to themselves.

  “We can’t let those who lost their lives be one page turned over, and no one knows about it again,” said Hill. “That day was horrible; we want to make sure it never happens again.”

Students from the Police Athletic League read names of the fallen. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  Six members of the PAL Youth Leadership Council, all teenagers who were not even born in 2001, paid tribute to the members of the Howell community who lost their lives on that fatal day in history. They are in alphabetical order as follows:

  • John Lennon, Jr. – Affectionately known as “J”, Lennon was described as caring, likeable and helpful.

  He served with the New Jersey/New York Port Authority Police Department and spent his last moments doing what he loved most – saving others. Many survivors of the attack owed their lives to Officer Lennon, remembered as a true hero.

  Lennon married his wife Patricia when they were both 23, although they first met when they were only 15. The couple had four children together.

  • Colin McArthur –  A senior vice president at Aon Incorporated in the World Trade Center, McArthur was known for his sense of humor and his ability to make people laugh.

  When McArthur’s alma mater, the University of Glasgow, learned of his passing, they created a scholarship in his name. The scholarship is intended to reflect the sympathy felt not only for Colin’s loved ones but also for the American people.

  Colin’s wife generously contributed a significant gift to the scholarship fund, with the hope of endowing it in perpetuity. His legacy will continue to impact the lives of future generations, as his scholarship honors his memory.

  • John Rhodes – A senior vice president for Aon Risk Services, Rhodes was remembered a loving husband, father, and grandfather who deeply cherished his family.

  Many who knew him described him as a man who loved life and his loved ones. Rhodes had a passion for golf and found himself improving over the years. He wasn’t one to worry about the future; instead, he lived in the moment.

  • Alan Wisnewski – A graduate of Chubb Technical Institute, specializing in computer service, he worked as an associate director at the Sandler O’Neill investment banking firm located in the World Trade Center.

  Alongside his strong work ethic, Wisnewski dedicated a significant amount of time to creating computer programs that aided banks in converting stocks after sales.

Community members came together to remember those lost. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  As a loving father of three and a devoted husband of nine years, Alan always prioritized his family. Wisnewski was not only passionate about his family but also deeply committed to giving back to the community.

  The service concluded with the tolling of the bells by the local fire department as firefighters solemnly saluted in unison. At Storrow’s request, people exiting the ceremony walked past a wreath erected in memory of those lost.

  Although dark clouds loomed in the distance, not a single raindrop interrupted the ceremony. It was as if the heavens held their breath in remembrance of the solemn occasion.