Anyone who knows anything about Ground Zero and 9/11 knows the name William or ”Willie” Rodriguez, the last man out of the World Trade Center North Tower who helped save hundreds of lives.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Rodriguez personally rescued 15 injured persons from the tower, leading and often carrying them to safety. He evacuated the injured from the basement levels and rushed back into the tower three times, leading firefighters up stairwells, unlocking doors to various floors as they ascended, helping in the successful evacuations. He stepped from anonymity that day to being a decorated World Hero.
Rodriquez worked at the WTC for 19 years in maintenance, responsible for the upkeep and safety of the stairwells inside the 110-story North Tower. On the morning of 9/11, Rodriquez was the only person at the WTC site with a master key to the North Tower stairwell doors. Only doors on every fourth level were normally left unlocked for fire containment purposes. That morning, at great risk to his life, Rodriguez re-entered the tower to rescue people trapped between floors in elevator cars by lowering ladders down into shafts. After leading everyone he could find to safety, he made his final exit from the building.
He survived the North Tower’s collapse by diving under a fire truck where he then laid trapped, buried in a mountain of dust and debris for more than two hours. Barely able to breathe, he thought he’d die entombed under the truck. An agnostic, for the first time in his adult life, he prayed. Today, his belief in God is unshakable, he says, because the deity listened to his heartfelt prayers. For Willie, miracles do happen, like the policeman who had been standing across the street and caught a glimpse of him leaping under the fire truck a split second before the tower collapsed in a pyroplastic avalanche. It was the same officer who later came back with help, believing that the man under that truck might still be alive. According to Rodriquez, this led to his newfound faith. It helps to have a guardian angel.
Ironically, for his outstanding heroism on 9/11, Rodriquez received a special commendation for valor from President George W. Bush at a special White House ceremony. In time, as he spoke out around the world about what he had really witnessed, his golden boy status at the White House and amongst Republicans who pulled him into politics diminished. Exactly what had he witnessed that turned away some of his previous admirers? In a word: BOMBS! Rodriquez and some of his co-workers were down in the lower basement levels at the time of the attack and both heard and felt huge explosions beneath their feet. While this anomaly never led to a serious investigation, the timing of these explosions is more troubling. They occurred several seconds before the first airplane impacted Tower 1.
The first of these explosions occurred about 7–8 seconds before the plane struck the tower. It was so powerful it actually threw Rodriquez up, clean off the floor, as parts of the false ceiling collapsed onto and around him. He heard and felt at least three explosions go off down in the basement levels within seconds of each other. Chaos broke out, with screams of “bombs, bombs!” rising above the noise as terrified workers scattered every which way, seeking escape routes. There were six basement levels in all. Level-1, immediately below Rodriquez’s position, the apparent location of the first explosion was a “Mechanical Floor,” a restricted access area.
Felipe David, a colleague working at the far end of the basement Level-1, across from Rodriquez, managed to stagger towards him, burned beyond recognition, the skin on his face almost totally peeled away, exposing raw, pink flesh. The burnt skin of his outstretched arms hung horrifically “like sheets of loose cloth.” David was the first casualty whose life Rodriquez saved by carrying him up to the paramedics at street level, returning then to the basement in spite of police orders. He also explained to the 9/11 commissioners the many cases of serious injuries he personally witnessed that were caused by these explosions. He even provided the panel with a list of firsthand witnesses, people who would testify under oath. One was his friend and colleague, John Mongello.
Mongello was in the lobby of the South Tower when the first aircraft plowed into the North Tower where Rodriquez was. Within a minute of that first plane hitting the North Tower, an elevator in the South Tower exploded to pieces before Mongello’s eyes. He and many others were blown backwards by the blast as many people, horribly burned, ran screaming in pain, shock and sheer terror. Thick, black smoke could be seen billowing out of the now exposed elevator shaft, and the pungent smell of “gunpowder” filled the air. Once more, as with the North Towers, this explosion occurred inside a building not yet struck by a plane! The question is how could a plane crashing into the North Tower cause elevators in the South Tower to explode? It would seem they were planned to do so in advance, but the kangaroo 9/11 Commission never bothered to ask.
Worse, to Rodriquez’s disbelief, he later found out his statements were completely omitted from the official records. Not one word of this decorated hero’s amazing testimony appeared in the 9/11 Commission Report, aptly titled by many, the 9/11 Commission of Omission, still thought by others to be the last word on the events of 9/11. Wrong. Adding insult to injury, Rodriquez was told emphatically not to talk about the explosion to others ’til “further investigations” were carried out. This has yet to happen as of 9/15/2011, a decade later. But the Commission’s investigation records were finally made public several years later in January 2009. Rodriquez was shocked to find his crucial testimony was among those marked “restricted,” as such not privy to the public. It remains restricted to this day.
Naturally Rodriquez was floored by the Commission’s dubious actions. Anger at their shenanigans was overtaken by a deeper anxiety: the bombs. He was convinced beyond a doubt there were explosives planted within the Towers. The NIST explanation of jet fuel kerosene melting the redundant steel frames, made no sense at all to him. He had overheard exchanges on firefighters’ two-way radios that day confirming that literally all the jet fuel had burned off, and the few scattered fires would be easily knocked out. He was convinced the explosions he’d seen, felt, and heard that day weren’t caused by kerosene, but deliberately positioned explosives.
Something he saw on TV the next day cemented that belief: WTC 7, the 47-story steel-framed building, which wasn’t hit by an airliner, collapsed into its footprint in a matter of 7 seconds at 5:20 p.m., after Larry Silverstein, its owner, had said at 3 p.m. that day that he and the NYFD had decided to “pull it,” the term for an internal demolition. This would take weeks, months, to create, not two and a half hours. Willie’s aha moment struck like lightening: all three buildings were purposely demolished with explosives. He also remembered the 9/11 Commission said nothing about Tower 7 or the many eyewitness accounts of multiple explosions within the building. Not one word; completely ignored.
He found this ominous and disorienting. Nothing made sense. Only one thought consumed him: who were the killers? Having worked at WTC for nearly two decades, he remembered its general layout. In fact, the North Tower was a second home to him. Rodriquez had many friends in the WTC community. He ate breakfast with colleagues in the employees’ cafeteria in Windows On The World, the elegant restaurant on the 107th floor. Ever since the 1993 bombing, a truck-bomb in the underground garage which was parked too far from the pillar that if demolished could cause the structure to fail and fall, security in the towers was extremely tight. This could be seen wherever he went. So how did the culprits gain access?
He looked into the security company in charge of the WTC complex, Securacom, and found that President Bush’s brother, Marvin Bush, and his cousin, Wirt Walk III, were both principals of the company, a Kuwait-US venture. This same company was in charge of security at Dulles airport and United Airlines, both involved in the attacks. He chalked off the connection as coincidence but began wondering how the perpetrators would overcome the practical difficulties to gain access to the buildings. He tried to recall any suspicious people or strange happenings he’d seen.
A light went on.
He recalled seeing small teams of men in white “HazMat” coveralls busily buzzing about the building in the weeks preceding the attacks. Their presence didn’t seem odd at the time. What did was that they used, almost exclusively, the stairwells, avoiding using service elevators. Now Rodriquez wondered about these men’s real identities and true purpose. Another light went on. A few weeks before the attacks, he was working in a stairwell on the 34th floor, which he knew to be completely vacant. Suddenly, he heard the strangest sound, one he’d never heard in his 20 years there. It sounded like a huge metal dumpster on steel wheels, containing something extremely heavy—tons being rolled around a floor he knew to be totally empty—clear even of any furniture. Rodriquez maintains “someone” was on that floor moving some “monstrous contraption about.”
He immediately reported the incident to the main office, but was assured it was a vacant floor. Suddenly, he feared for his life. Danger was behind that door. He avoided the 34th floor afterwards. He considered this frightening fact: that long-term occupancy (and therefore control) of a whole floor gave the occupants unlimited and unobstructed access from all sides to the entire 47-column central core of the Tower via the elevator shafts. By sequentially disabling individual elevators for ‘servicing,’ the occupants would have clear access to the entire 1,350-ft central load-bearing core—from the topmost floor right down to the 6th level basement sitting on bedrock. This was a thought that sent fear through Rodriquez’s being, bringing back memories of 9/11.
From then on, he went on a countrywide tour sponsored by millionaire philanthropist Jimmy Walter, producing DVD’s, organizing events and seminars, doing whatever he could do to get out the message to the world. He was a one-man tour-de-force on his own mission of truth. His fervor led him to a lone protest outside the White House bearing a placard that read, “9/11 was an inside job.” He was impressed that Walter, a wealthy, successful man, willingly faced scorn and ridicule in sponsoring this incendiary cause. But Walter sensed the mark of authenticity in Rodriquez, the drive and commitment, and took him under his wing. The two teamed up, a true “dynamic duo” to set the record straight. Nevertheless, Willy was “advised” by officials to keep his “different” views on 9/11 to himself. His experiences from that would not permit him to stop questioning, even though they were called “unpatriotic.”
The White House ceremony that made him a national hero now retracted its affection. A number of high-ranking officials advised him of the “sensitivity” of the times, explaining it would be unwise for him to pursue this disturbing path into “unfounded theories” which could prove to be “very embarrassing.” America’s urge to strike back was being primed and rising like a tsunami at “the enemy.” The decorated hero was now “a party liability,” persona non grata in the halls of power.
When Jimmy Walter suggested Willy pull back on his fervor, he said he couldn’t. He needed to find out who the real killers were. Rodriguez said, “The alleged Arab hijackers couldn’t have rigged all those explosives. No way!” Walter offered a $1 million cash reward to any engineer or scientist in the world who could prove, in an academic technical paper that the three towers could have collapsed the way they did without explosives. He sent the offer to more than 100 universities and a host of major architectural and structural engineering firms. There were no takers. Zero, to this day. Walter’s team was made up of world-class experts: architects, engineers, pilots, firefighters, metallurgists, chemists, and psychologists, among others. The group made presentations across the US, then to Europe, Venezuela, Singapore, Japan and elsewhere, presenting to packed audiences wherever they traveled.
But they came up against a brick wall in the US, which gives you a sense of the opposition’s power to obfuscate. Eventually, after a noble try, Walter called it a day. But Willie, now a Power of One, continued. But not before experiencing more tragedies.
One of his former colleagues and witnesses, Kenny Johanneman from WTC, had suddenly “committed suicide.” Gunshot to the head. This was reminiscent of Barry Jennings, former New York Housing Authority Emergency Coordinator and key 9/11 witness who suddenly died of “unknown causes” days before the release of NIST’s “amended” report on the collapse of WTC7. Jennings was on record stating emphatically and unequivocally regarding Tower 7 that “explosions were going off all over the place”—while the Twin Towers were still standing!
Jennings also stated in an interview that he was “stepping over bodies” in the main lobby of WTC7, being led out by firemen. The lobby, he testified on video “looked like a bomb had gone off inside it.” Not only had no airliners hit the building. The Twin Towers were still standing. Mr. Jennings as well suffered a sudden, mysterious death at age 53. Dylan Avery, Loose Change producer, hired a private detective to investigate the death and subsequent disappearance of his wife and two children. He returned Avery’s check within days, telling him he refused to continue with the case, giving no reason.
Following that, Danny Jawenko, president of Eposieve Demolitie BV, a leading Dutch controlled-demolition company, who had seen a video of WTC7’s freefall collapse, said he was absolutely positive it was brought down by controlled demolition. On July 18, 2011, driving home in his car, Mr. Jawenko’s vehicle suddenly accelerated, swerved off the road, crashed into a tree at high speed. Danny was killed instantly: so much for telling the truth.
But Willy continued, giving CNN a day-long interview in his own home, only to see it on TV fully expunged of anything relevant to the bombings, solely glamorizing his heroic rescues and the White House medal. It was a total whitewash. But all the setbacks seem to make the indomitable Rodriquez stronger and more committed. Despite warnings from reporters and others, in 2004, he was the lead plaintiff in a RICO lawsuit filed against President Bush and 155 of his henchmen, accusing them of complicity in the 9/11 attacks, conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes. Unfortunately in July 7, 2006 the suit was dismissed on a filing technicality.
Since then, the mainstream propaganda, pro-War on Terror, death, slaughter and mindless revenge has cost the USA trillions of dollars, and death, with 5,000 of our own gone, and the hostility of the Middle East, South Asia, even Europe and Africa. If America had stood tall as this once-anonymous maintenance man, now World Hero, had we would still be the beacon on the hill, not the fire from the pit, the fumes of Ground Zero pouring out as if from hell, downing first responders from a legion of illnesses. Yet, Signor Rodriquez, bless his soul, goes on speaking, fighting, and bucking the tide of liars, which include Hollywood’s Robert DeNiro and other star types.
But the questions still remain, “How did 19 clueless Arabs climb aboard four airliners, hijacking the crafts using box-cutters, and then brilliantly outwit the most formidable military force on the planet and its entire multi-trillion dollar defense apparatus for almost two hours—all without a single fighter interceptor in the fearsome American arsenal so much as turning a wheel for the entire duration,” writes Richard Roepke in his longer profile of William Rodriquez, “Exclusive: “Last Man Out” Makes Shocking 9/11 Disclosure, on which this shorter article is based. Long live Willy!
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer, life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.