Red Bandanna Hero Award

Welles Crowther

My mom gave me her People magazine the other days because of an article about Winners of the annual Red Bandanna Hero Award.  I was so interested in the people that won the awards and I wanted to learn more about how this Red Bandanna Hero Award started.

Welles Crowther, 24 was a rookie equities trader from Upper Nyack, NY, who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and became known as the Man in the Red Bandanna, for the handkerchief he wore as a protective mask while rescuing people in the South Tower before it collapsed.

He is credited with helping at least 10 people escape the tower in several trips up and down stairwells, before dying alongside a group of New York City firefighters.

As a boy, Welles followed his father as a member of the local Empire Hook & Ladder Co, in Upper Nyack.  By age 7, he was helping to clean trucks and by 16 years old, he became a junior member and then a full member at 18.

He went off to Boston College after high school and then went to work for the Sandler O’Neill company, an investment banker and was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the building.

Welles left a voice mail message for his mother telling her he was O.K. but then she never heard from him again.

She later heard about a mysterious man who managed to locate the only passable stairwell and began directing groups of injured and dazed people down the stairs. He wore a Red Bandanna over his face to keep out the smoke and debris falling.

Welles was given a red bandanna by his father 20 years earlier and wore it everywhere.  He wore it under his hockey and fire helmets as a teenager and under his lacrosse helmet while playing for Boston College.  And he carried it in the pocket of his business suit every day to the World Trade Center for work.

His parents contacted survivors who were quoted in a New York Times article about this mysterious man and confirmed that Welles Crowther was their rescuer.  They described him as a calm, strong authoritative figure who they followed down the stairwells.

One of Welles co-workers at Sandler O’Neill once teased him about the red bandanna on his desk and Wells answered, “This bandanna’s going to change the world.”

It certainly has!!!   



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