9/11 Firefighter Bob Beckwith, Who Posed In Ground Zero Photo With President Bush, Dies At 91 – One America News Network

US President George W. Bush (L), standing next to
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 14: US President George W. Bush (L), standing next to retired firefighter Bob Beckwith, 69, speaks to volunteers and firemen as he surveys the damage at the site of the World Trade Center in New York in this 14 September 2001 file photo. Bush was presented with the same bullhorn he used to address the rescue workers in this photo at a ceremony 25 February 2002 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC which was attended by Beckwith and New York Governor George Pataki. The President said the bullhorn would be put on display at his father's Presidential Library. (Photo credit should read PAUL RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
US President George W. Bush (L), standing next to retired firefighter Bob Beckwith, 69, speaks to volunteers and firemen as he surveys the damage at the site of the World Trade Center in New York in this 14 September 2001 file photo. (Photo credit should read PAUL RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
11:28 AM – Monday, February 5, 2024

Bob Beckwith, the retired fireman who went above and beyond to locate survivors during 9/11 and who was captured in a famous photograph with former President George W. Bush at Ground Zero, passed away at the age of 91.


The union representing New York firefighters and former United States Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) announced Beckwith’s death on Monday.

Although the cause of death has not yet been released, it was known that Beckwith had malignant skin cancer along with other health issues.

Beckwith , who was already 69-years-old at the time, heard the news that terrorists had hijacked two commercial planes and crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, which would cause the deaths of 2,753 people. Beckwith had been retired for six years prior before the planes came crashing.

Even so, he still made the decision to volunteer his efforts and accompany police cars across the Williamsburg Bridge and travel to Lower Manhattan in order to assist in the hunt for survivors.

His relatives reportedly attempted to stop him from visiting Ground Zero. However, Beckwith threw on his old uniform, fastened his helmet, and hurried out the door after learning that one of his old colleague’s sons was among the hundreds of missing firefighters.

“I told my wife, ‘I’m going down,’” Beckwith recalled in a 2005 interview with CNN.

According to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Beckwith was able to persuade the NYPD and National Guard that he was late for work and was allowed entry to Ground Zero while wearing his old gear, which included his leather fire helmet from Ladder Company 164. After arriving at the scene, he started working on the bucket brigade, where a row of first responders stood shoulder to shoulder and manually passed buckets of rubble to one another in an attempt to find survivors. He joined a team that successfully located FDNY Engine 76.

“I go start digging with the guys in the North Tower, and we come across a pumper with a 76 Engine,” Beckwith said. “And we’re working because we’re looking for survivors and we’re looking for people, and we’re hoping they found an air pocket or something.”

Word spread among rescuers that Bush was planning to visit Ground Zero during that horrific first week after the event. To get a better look at where he thought the then-president might speak, Beckwith scaled the charred hull of a fire engine.

A man that Beckwith had assumed might be working for the Secret Service approached him while he was alone on top of the truck, which later turned out to be Karl Rove, President Bush’s deputy chief of staff.

“He comes over and he dusts off (the spot) next to my foot and he says, ‘Is this safe?’” Beckwith recalled.

Roven then informed Beckwith that “someone important” would come over and asked the retired firefighter to help give the “VIP” a hand so that the president could hop up onto the truck.

“And the president came, and he is shaking hands with all the ironworkers and all the cops and all the firemen that were down there … and I figure he’s going over to the microphones, but he makes a quick right, and he puts his arm up and I said, ‘Oh my God!’”

After helping Bush up onto the truck, Beckwith started to crawl down – but the president stopped him.

“He says, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘Uh, I was told to get down.’ He said, ‘No, no, you stay right here.’”

As Bush was speaking, someone from the crowd yelled and told him that they could not hear him very well, and that is when he put his arm around Beckwith, saying, “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” 

The images of Beckwith with Bush then became an iconic symbol of hope in the aftermath of the tragic event. 

Additionally, Bush and his spokespersons released a statement after hearing the news of Beckwith’s passing, commemorating his bravery in the aftermath of 9/11.

“When the terrorists attacked, Bob suited back up and, like so many brave first responders, raced toward the danger to save and search for others,” Bush said. “His courage represented the defiant, resilient spirit of New Yorkers and Americans after 9/11. I was proud to have Bob by my side at Ground Zero days later and privileged to stay in touch with this patriot over the years.”

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Abril Elfi
Author: Abril Elfi

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