|Born||Welles Remy Crowther
May 17, 1977
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 11, 2001
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Other names||The Man in the Red Bandana|
|Alma mater||Boston College|
|Employer||Sandler O'Neill and Partners|
|Known for||Acts of heroism during the September 11 attacks|
Welles Remy Crowther (May 17, 1977 – September 11, 2001) was an American equities trader known for saving at least a dozen lives during the September 11 attacks in New York City, during which he lost his own life.
Welles Remy Crowther was born the first of three children. His parents, Jefferson and Allison, raised him and his two younger sisters, Honor and Paige, in the northern New York suburb of Nyack, New York. As a child, Crowther looked up to his father, and one day, while seeing his father meticulously getting dressed for church, noticed that his father putting a white handkerchief in his breast pocket of his suit coat and then wrap a small comb in a blue or red bandanna and stick it in his right hip pocket. When he was six years old, Jefferson gave Welles a red bandanna that would become a signature trademark and a link between father and son, that he would carry with him everywhere, wearing one under all of his sports uniforms in high school, always as #19. Crowther joined his father as a volunteer firefighter at age 16, becoming a junior member of the Empire Hook and Ladder Company. He later attended Boston College, where he played lacrosse, wearing his bandana under his helmet. In 1999 Crowther graduated with honors with a degree in economics. He subsequently moved to New York City, taking a job as an equities trader for Sandler O'Neill and Partners, settling into an office on the 104th floor of South Tower of the World Trade Center. Though Crowther had long-aspired to be in business, he eventually came to dislike desk work, and entertained dreams of joining the FDNY or the FBI or CIA.
September 11 attacks
On September 11, 2001, minutes after United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower between the 77th and 85th floors at 9:03 a.m., the 24-year-old Crowther called his mother from his office at 9:12 a.m., calmly leaving a brief message saying, "Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I'm okay." Crowther made his way down to the 78th floor sky lobby, where he encountered a group of survivors, huddled and waiting for help, including a badly burned Ling Young, who worked on the 86th floor in New York's Department of Taxation and Finance. Young had been one of approximately 200 people waiting at a bank of elevators to evacuate when the plane hit the tower, and one of the few survivors. Blinded by the blood covering her glasses, she was rescued when Crowther appeared, carrying a young woman on his back, and directed them in a strong, authoritative voice, to the stairway, where the survivors followed him fifteen floors down, where he dropped off the woman he was carrying before heading back upstairs to assist others. By the time he returned to the 78th floor, he had a bandana around his nose and mouth to protect him from smoke and haze. He found another group of survivors, which included AON Corp. employee Judy Wein, who worked on the 103rd floor, and was in pain from a broken arm, cracked ribs and a punctured lung. According to Wein, Crowther assisted in putting out fires and administering first aid. He then announced to that group, "Everyone who can stand, stand now. If you can help others, do so." He directed this group downstairs as well. "If he hadn't come back, I wouldn't have made it," said Wein. "People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal to do what he did." As occupants of the Tower headed for the street, Crowther turned around and went back inside multiple times, according to witnesses. He was last seen doing so with members of the FDNY before the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m.
Crowther's body was found on March 19, 2002, alongside several firefighters and emergency workers bunched in a suspected command post in the South Tower lobby. Allison Crowther related that the New York medical examiner's office told them her son's body was found intact, with no signs of burns, and that authorities speculated that he was aiding the rescue effort as a civilian usher when the building collapsed. Crowther's family were unaware of the exact details of Crowther's activities between his last phone call to his mother and his death until Allison Crowther read Judy Wein's firsthand account in The New York Times, of being saved by a man in a red bandana, which led to Allison meeting with the people that Welles had saved, including Wein and Young, who confirmed from photographs the identity of the man who aided them. According to survivor accounts, Crowther saved as many as 12 people following the attacks. His mother commented, "We took great peace in knowing that [Welles] didn't suffer and that, up until the end, he was being very courageous, doing what he wanted to do. So he must have felt very fulfilled that day, knowing he was helping others." Jefferson Crowther said of his son, "He didn't live long enough to be head of a corporation or do good works or endow a museum. But what he did on September 11, that's his legacy."
Following his death, Crowther's parents, Allison and Jefferson Crowther, with the support of a Michigan foundation, created the Red Bandanna Project, a character development program for classrooms, sports teams, camps and youth programs. The family also established the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust, with which they fund charitable work.
The Welles Remy Crowther Red Bandana Run, a 5 kilometer road race, is held annually at Boston College.
That same year, Crowther's Boston College lacrosse teammate, Tyler Jewell, wore a red bandana in honor of Crowther when he competed as a member of the United States snowboarding team in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
During the September 10, 2011, Central Florida-Boston College football game in Orlando, Florida, a day before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, both schools honored Crowther, with Boston College players wearing helmet stickers featuring Crowther's signature red bandana during the game, and Crowther's sisters, Honor Fagan and Paige Crowther, introduced to the crowd during the third quarter. Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo had stated two days earlier, "Welles Crowther is a true American hero and we are very proud that he was a Boston College student-athlete. As Americans reflect in the upcoming days on the solemn occasion of the 9/11 anniversary, we are humbled by the bravery Welles exhibited that day." Several students at Central Florida were inspired by ESPN's Outside the Lines story about Crowther to encourage fans to wear red bandanas as they entered the stadium the night of the game.
At the National 9/11 Memorial, Crowther is memorialized at the South Pool, on Panel S-50. President Barack Obama, during his May 15, 2014 dedication of the Museum, focused on Crowther's heroism in his speech. As images of Crowther flashed on a screen behind him, Obama stated, "They didn't know his name. They didn't know where he came from. But they knew their lives had been saved by the man in the red bandana. He called for fire extinguishers to fight back the flames. He tended to the wounded. He led those survivors down the stairs to safety, and carried a woman on his shoulders down 17 flights. Then he went back. Back up all those flights. Then back down again, bringing more wounded to safety. Until that moment when the tower fell." One of Crowther's bandanas is on display at the museum.
- Botelho, Greg; Hinojosa, Maria. "The man in the red bandanna". CNN.
- Weiss, Dick (September 11, 2011). "Touching 9/11 tribute to Welles Crowther, selfless hero, before Central Florida-Boston College game". Daily News.
- Rinaldi, Tom (writer); Burns, Ken (narrator). Man In The Red Bandana Advertisement. ESPN. September 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
- Lerner, Jane (May 15, 2014). "At 911 memorial, Obama evokes red bandanna". The Journal News.
- Welles Remy Crowther Red Bandana Run. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- "Welles Crowther 'The Man in the Red Bandanna' Posthumously Named Honorary Firefighter". New York City Fire Department. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- Welles Remy Crowther. Memorial Guide: National 9/11 Memorial. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- Dooley, Erin ;Bruce, Mary (May 15, 2014). "President Obama Recounts 9/11 Heroism of 'Man in the Red Bandana'". Yahoo! News/ABC News.
- Hennessey, Kathleen (May 15, 2014). "At 9/11 memorial, President Obama praises the day's heroes". Los Angeles Times.
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