Through the New York Rotary, I have met the most fascinating people and one of my favorites was the presentation we had this past Valentines Day – with our speaker being Colonel Will Merrill, Jr.,who spent 31 years in the U.S.Army and is a West Point graduate. Both Will and his lovely and terrific wife, Barbara were in New York this past week for the September 11 anniversary and for the release of his very powerful and reflective book- "9/11 Ordinary People EXTRAORDINARY HEROES"
Will's book is superbly written and is the culmination of many interviews and stories of the heroic firefighters,police officers and civilians who survived and prevailed.We learn about the wonderful people who will live on in our lives forever for giving their own on that fateful day.
To capture a glimpse of what you will read about,here are a few of the testimonials:
“ You have done a wonderful job of honoring the fallen and the heroes. I have to stop reading after a while because the tears cloud my vision.” Retired Navy Captain
“I started reading Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes at ten o’clock one evening after a long day. I finished reading it at five o’clock the next morning. I couldn’t put it down.”Firefighter (retired) Jack Fortmeyer
“Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes vividly recalls for us the catastrophic legacy of the most destructive terrorist attack in our country’s history. This book snaps the events of that day, the Pearl Harbor of our generation, into razor-sharp focus.Congressman Peter T. King, Chairman, Homeland Security Committee
“Colonel Will Merrill has produced a powerful and dramatic story of 9/11/01. A reminder of the bravery exhibited that day by ordinary Americans. A must read–Jim Boyle, father of Firefighter Michael Boyle, Engine 33, died 9/11/01
Amazing book! The stories about those personally involved in the 9/11 tragedy are incredibly portrayed and should be required reading in History Classes throughout the U.S. Col. Merrill vividly describes the events of that horrific day by those who were closely involved. A must read!
Letter to the Editor published in USA Today- I enjoyed reading your coverage in Friday's paper of the 9/11 attacks and the anniversary of that historic day. As a history buff, I've also been reading other articles and books about the event and came across the most interesting book called 9/11 Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes in which there are numerous stories about the survivors and their struggles to survive along with accounts of many not as fortunate. During the anniversary of this life changing disaster it behooves us all to remember those who were most affected by 9/11 and to be thankful for the freedoms we still enjoy. Thank you for your timely coverage.
I know that as I read through the book, every page keeps me engaged and even through the tears, I am amazed by the courage and heroism that comes through and that Will has turned into what is already becoming a huge best seller.
Go to http://ordinarypeopleextraordinaryheroes.com/ to learn more and order.
If you read below, my blog post of Feb 14 when I first met Will and Barbara and the book was still being written.— and it all started at a Flea market..
Last week at our Rotary meeting at The Harvard Club, we were honored to have Retired Colonel Will G. Merrill, Jr., U.S. Army speak with us about his upcoming book on "The Attack on New York City on 9/11 and the First Battle in the War Against Terror".His book will focus on the bravery and heroism in New York. Here is Will with his lovely wife Barbara who he met while studying at West Point.
As we spoke about his research for the book, he said 'it all started at a flea market'- I loved Will's story and thought about the power of networking-connections and how one incident and connection leads to another–
See Will's story below-and I am looking forward to reading his book—
After considerable research, but few interviews, while starting to write a book on 9/11 (Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes)my wife and I were in New York City. She met retired “fireman Jack” Fortmeyer who was selling old bottles at a flea market in Brooklyn. She thought I might be interested in meeting him and introduced us. Thinking it might be good background material for my book, I asked him if he would be willing to be interviewed.
He agreed and we exchanged phone numbers. A few days later he invited me to attend a Brooklyn retired fire fighter breakfast. When we arrived, he introduced me to the President who invited me to say a few words about the book I was writing.
After I finished, a fire fighter suggested I interview Bob Beckwith, the man pictured with President Bush at Ground Zero. Another person suggested I interview Al Fuentes, a severely injured fire fighter who was buried alive. I met and interviewed Al Fuentes at Central Park. Jack Fortmeyer also introduced me to several other fire fighters, both active and retired, who I interviewed.
I interviewed Bob Beckwith who introduced me to Jimmy Boyle, former president of the fire fighter union, whose son was killed on 9/11. I interviewed Jimmy and he introduced me to Chief of Department, FDNY, Sal Cassano. He also invited me to a foundation fund raiser where I met Tim Brown, who arranged an interview with Mayor Giuliani. Jimmy also arranged an appointment for me with Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, who wrote the introduction to my book. I interviewed Chief Cassano and he introduced me to Mickey Kross, Jay Jonas, who had been trapped in what remained of one of the Twin Towers, and others.
I mentioned to a friend that I needed material on the Port Authority Police Department. He knew a retired PAPD retiree, who put me in touch with the family’s liaison representative. She put me in touch with two former PAPD Chiefs of Department and a current Deputy Chief of Police. She also put me in touch with several family members of PAPD officers killed on 9/11.
When I told Jimmy Boyle that I didn’t have much contact with NYPD officers, he suggested I contact the former Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik. I wrote him a letter and he answered immediately and had his former Chief of Staff contact me. The Chief of Staff, John Picciano, met me and I interviewed him. He contacted the former Deputy Chief of Police, Sal Carcaterra and the Chief of Police’s assistant, Ralph Cefarello, both of whom I interviewed. My son, in Iraq, introduced me to a retired Police Chaplain who was involved with supporting service men stationed in Iraq. He introduced me to another police officer and a current NYPD Chaplain, both of whom I interviewed.
All told, I have interviewed about sixty fire fighters, police officers and civilians for my book. Their inspirational stories of danger and courage have been invaluable to the development of the book.