Firefighter Jay Jonas of Goshen was one of only 22 survivors inside the North Tower of the World Trade Center when it collapsed during the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Jonas, a decorated New York City Fire Department (FDNY) deputy chief, will be keynote speaker at Orange County’s September 11th Patriot Day Remembrance Ceremony. The event, which is open to the public, will be held at the Orange County Arboretum at Thomas Bull Memorial Park at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
The ceremony will honor the memory of the 44 Orange County residents who lost their lives during the attacks.
“We are honored to have Deputy Chief Jonas serve as our keynote speaker, and I know that he will connect with our audience in a meaningful way,” said Steve Neuhaus, the Orange County Executive. “Mr. Jonas has enjoyed a decorated career with the FDNY and has a humbling and inspirational story of survival and bravery to share. He is a true hero, a professional and a gentleman dedicated to public service. Jay’s heroics on 9/11 is a testament to the fine work the FDNY and our first responders perform every day.”
Trapped in the rubble
A 40-year FDNY veteran, Jonas oversees six battalions in the Bronx and Manhattan. On 9/11, he was the captain of Ladder Company 6 in Chinatown. Jonas and his company arrived at the scene shortly after the North Tower was hit by the first airplane. As they were receiving their orders, the second airplane hit the South Tower. They bravely ran up 27 floors to help victims and survey the damage.
After they realized the South Tower had crumbled, they started their evacuation of the North Tower. They stopped on the 20th floor to rescue a woman and bring her down the stairs. When they arrived at the fourth floor, the North Tower started to collapse with them still inside the building. It took more than four hours for Jonas and the others who were trapped to crawl out of the rubble.
The remembrance ceremony will also honor military personnel. Families and survivors of 9/11, families of local military personnel, and veterans are invited to participate in the ceremony and join the procession by assembling at the Arboretum’s Ottaway Education Center at 5:30 p.m. The procession will begin at 5:55 p.m., followed by the ceremony.
“Each year, Patriot Day encourages us to join together in remembering those we lost, reflecting upon our blessings and recommitting ourselves to the principle that freedom is not free,” Neuhaus said. “As we honor those Orange County residents who tragically died on 9/11, let us promise ourselves that on this and every Patriot’s Day we will pay tribute to those who perished and keep in our thoughts and prayers those who continue to fight for our freedoms every day.”
“Mr. Jonas has enjoyed a decorated career with the FDNY and has a humbling and inspirational story of survival and bravery to share. He is a true hero, a professional and a gentleman dedicated to public service. Jay’s heroics on 9/11 is a testament to the fine work the FDNY and our first responders perform every day.” — Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus