Stephen Siller – a 9/11 Story of Family, Golf, and Courage
A “10 weather-wise and clear-wise” recalls Frank Siller, of Staten Island.
Siller and his three brothers, Russ, George and Stephen, had a tee-time at Glenwood Country Club in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
“The perfect foursome,” George says.
It wasn’t often that the Sillers were able to coordinate such an outing – the four brothers together on the golf course was always a special event. A glorious day of fun and trash talking awaited under immaculate skies.
The Sillers never made it to the first tee that morning. Like everyone else in the world, they heard the news and quickly realized their short and long term plans were about to change. For Stephen Siller, word of the first plane striking the North Tower meant a call to action.
A firefighter at Fire Engine Squad 1 in Brooklyn, Stephen had his clubs in his pickup truck as he entered the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, on his way to meet his brothers in New Jersey on his day off. What happened next is a legendary story of bravery and tragedy. As reported by golf.com:
He stopped his pickup truck at the Brooklyn entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which was closed to traffic. He put on his fire-resistant coat and pants, helmet, mask and oxygen tank, gear that weighed close to 60 pounds, and started jogging through the 1.7-mile-long tunnel. At one point a fire truck passed Stephen in the tube and the crew asked him if he wanted a lift. “No,” he said, “I’ll get there before you.”
A friend who worked on a different fire truck later told Frank that he took Stephen from the tunnel’s exit in Lower Manhattan to the corner of West Street and Liberty Street at the foot of the World Trade Center’s South Tower. That witness’s account is the last report his family has of Stephen’s actions that day. Based on this report, Frank believes that Stephen was in the South Tower when it collapsed at 9:59 a.m., 29 minutes before the North Tower fell.
Ten years later, Stephen Siller’s actions are just one reminder of the heroism of the first responders on 9/11. Many horrific images flood our minds when we think of that fateful day, but the courage of men like Stephen are inspiring and uplifiting- for the bravery and selflessness that we as human beings are capable of. We are forever grateful to Stephen and others who sacrificed their lives in the name of helping others.
For more on the Siller’s “Tunnel to Towers Foundation” (including their annual charity golf tournament), click here: