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Thread: What Really Happened After Father Mike Died

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    What Really Happened After Father Mike Died

    WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AFTER FATHER MIKE DIED

    By NEIL GRAVES

    September 9, 2002 -- About a half-dozen rescue workers were suddenly stuck in a smoky nook in the north tower lobby, with debris everywhere and the floor still quivering from the collapse of the south tower.

    William Cosgrove, then a lieutenant with the NYPD, was gasping for air in the choking darkness after being tossed across the floor by the tremendous thud of 110 stories falling to the ground.

    "I said, 'Everybody, let's just hold hands so we know where each other are,' " Cosgrove recalled recently.

    "I tripped over something. I said, 'There's a body over here.' A fireman showed the light on the person on the floor. And he said, 'Oh, my God - it's Father Mike.' "

    The Rev. Mychal Judge, the Fire Department's much-beloved chaplain, had died doing the job he was born to do - ministering to others: He had just given the last rites to another victim.

    Judge loved his firefighters so much that he lived just across from Ladder Co. 24/Engine Co. 10, in the Franciscan friary on West 31st Street.

    And the men that day would love him back, eventually placing his body at the altar of St. Peter's Church, a block from the World Trade Center, after he was retrieved by five heroes.

    Moments before the ghastly discovery, firefighter Christian Waugh of Ladder Co. 5 watched the priest talk to a video team when matters were bad but not yet catastrophic.

    "Father Judge was standing a few feet away, giving an interview to [documentary-makers Jules and Gedeon Naudet]," Waugh remembered.

    "When the plane hit the second building, we felt it. The pressure threw us to the ground."

    Before the collapse, Zachary Vause, of Engine Co. 21 on East 40th, had taken the subway downtown, dressed in full gear, because the engine company he was on loan to, Truck 7, had taken off without him. Upon emerging from the Brooklyn Bridge station, Vause ran smack into a tidal wave of people running the other way.

    "I was swimming through people on my way in," he said.

    He arrived at the scene just in time to get his helmet jarred off his head from the force of the south tower's collapse. Lost in the pitch-black north tower lobby, Vause could see none of the others as Cosgrove asked them to huddle.

    "Next thing I know, somebody was screaming, 'Over here, over here,' " Vause said. "[Judge] was taking his last breath.

    "We opened his shirt. I tried pumping out his chest with my chest pump. He came up - for one last gasp. I checked his pulse and there was nothing."

    The men crawled out of the area, only to find they were facing an out-of-commission escalator that led to a balcony area. They started toting the body.

    "Everybody had a leg or an arm, but he was so heavy," Cosgrove said.

    Kevin Allen, of the Office of Emergency Management, came all the way from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, that morning and reported to the OEM command bus on the far side of the Church Street Post Office.

    "We felt this huge shake, the whole ground was shaking," said Allen. "I guess that's when the south tower came down. We got in the bus, behind the building, and that's what saved us - that post-office building."

    The OEM team fanned out and were stunned to hear the voice of their boss, Calvin Drayton, the first deputy commissioner, calling for help over the radio. But no one could discern his location.

    On his way searching for Drayton, Allen saw three men carrying a body. He pitched in.

    "I didn't know he was a priest at that time," Allen admitted. "It wasn't 'til we got to Church Street and I saw the white collar that I knew. I said, 'Oh, my God.' "

    John Maguire, a Goldman Sachs employee who had come from Wall Street to help, saw the four struggling toward him.

    "I asked them if they needed any help," said Maguire, a West Point grad who is presently an inactive Army captain.

    "These guys were really exhausted. They had on so much gear and I didn't."

    The team then accepted a godsend on the balcony overlooking West and Vesey.

    "People were jumping in and out trying to help and someone gave us a chair," Vause said. "The core of us kept on carrying him in the chair."

    The team finally got Judge to an ambulance and laid him down.

    Having taken him that far, someone felt they ought to give the priest a proper sendoff.

    "I asked an officer to get a priest," Cosgrove said. "But no one could find one. Somebody said, 'If you're Catholic, you can give him last rites.' So myself and a young cop gave last rites."

    Right after that came the other sickening eruption.

    "As we covered him up, the north tower came down, and we started to run," Waugh said.

    The Rev. Mychal Judge wound up on the altar of St. Peter's, carried by a posse of firefighters. Cosgrove wanted to make sure to set the record straight.

    "Some people thought we brought him there," said Cosgrove, who started a new position with the public school's investigative arm last month.

    "We didn't take him there. We left him next to the ambulance. That was the last time I saw him."


    http://www.nypost.com/09112002/56570.htm


    FINAL TRIBUTE:
    Firefighter Christian Waugh (left to right), former NYPD Lt. William Cosgrove, John Maguire and Kevin Allen - who, aided by firefighter Zachary Vause, carried the body of fire Chaplain Mychal Judge away from the towers - show a painting of the scene during a visit yesterday to St. Francis of Assisi in Manhattan, where the chaplain had ministered.
    - Reuters

  2. #2
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    That is such a touching story. Speaking as a Catholic myself, Father Mychal's dedication to his firefighters and the people of New York is a shining light amidst the scandals that have plagued the Church across the world in recent times. The media is only too ready to publicise the bad priests - and rightly so, they certainly should not be hidden - but sadly they tend to avoid giving credit and honour where and when it is deserved. The thought that Father Mychal died giving the last rites to another just moves me in a way words can not describe. And it was only fitting that one of the firefighters he loved so much was able to do the same for him. God rest you, Father Mychal.

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