‘By the grace of God, I’m nonetheless right here’: Capitol Police officer recollects responding to Twin Towers

RICHMOND, Va. — Officer Rodney Hodges with the Virginia Division of Capitol Police wore a special badge for 21 years with the New York Police Division. He retired as a detective. ​

“It doesn’t appear to be it was 18 years in the past,” Officer Hodges recalled. “It looks like it was simply yesterday.”​

On September 11, 2001, he was on the station a couple of half a mile away from the World Commerce Middle. ​When others had been working away, he ran in the direction of the hazard. 

“It appeared like a bomb went off,” he recalled. “It was simply pure chaos that morning.”

“As we had been working there, the primary tower got here down. Folks had been popping out of the constructing, lined in ash.” ​

–Officer Rodney Hodges

Officer Hodges remembers seeing folks determined to get out leap from the Twin Towers. When the second tower fell, he was assigned to arrange “triages,” or first assist stations, close to the West Facet Freeway. ​

“[We were] assuming there have been quite a lot of victims that wanted medical help. However that wasn’t the case,” he described. “We discovered a couple of pockets the place folks had been making noise and we had been in a position to avoid wasting folks, however the majority of individuals had been lifeless.”​

A complete of two,977 folks had been killed within the September 11 terror assaults (2,606 had been on the World Commerce Middle), together with 414 firefighters and regulation enforcement officers who had been amongst them.​

“Irrespective of the hazard, regardless of the issues that went fallacious that day, we nonetheless went in as first responders – that’s what we do,” Officer Hodges stated. ​

After the assaults, Officer Hodges was assigned to work in Staten Island, the place barges would convey the particles from Floor Zero. He would put on a protecting go well with and a masks to sift via the ruble to seek out any human stays that could possibly be recognized. ​

“Some folks nonetheless haven’t been discovered,” Officer Hodges stated. ​

When Officer Hodges and Capitol Bureau Reporter Sara McCloskey spoke on the 18th anniversary, he introduced alongside two magazines with pictures of Floor Zero and the lives misplaced since then. Quite a few Officer Hodges’ buddies died that day. A few of his buddies died years later after creating most cancers from being on the job. ​

“Eighteen years later persons are nonetheless getting sick with this most cancers,” Officer Hodges stated. ​

In July, President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund invoice, which completely replenishes a fund that will profit cops, hearth fighters and different first responders who had been damage or had been killed due to the Sept. 11 terrorist assault. With out the reauthorization, the $7.four billion fund would run out of cash by December 2020. ​

There have additionally been efforts by the Virginia General Assembly to verify firefighters get employees compensation when identified with most cancers, presumably from working close to so many toxins when responding to fires. ​

Being on the bottom when these terror assaults occurred has taken a toll on Officer Hodges; there have been years of sleepless nights. What he witnessed isn’t one thing that leaves desires simply. Just lately, he began speaking to his daughter — who was only a toddler when the assaults occurred — about his experiences, too.

At the moment, he remembers what our nation will always remember. 

“By the grace of God, I’m nonetheless right here,” Hodges stated. “I’m nonetheless wholesome and I’m glad I used to be in a position to serve and defend up in New York and I hope to do the identical down right here at Capitol Police.”