November 2001

The Natchez family was most fortunate to have not, as far as anyone knows, lost anyone to the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11. But one Natchez alumnus (and perhaps many more) stands among the ranks of the heroes who have responded to this tragedy with courage, resolve, and compassion: New York City firefighter Jason Cascone.

I was Jason's counselor from 1991-94. He was 11 years old that first year and joined my bunk (Bunk 8, "The Godfathers") midway through the summer. You can see him at 14 in that group picture with me on the main page; he's the one on the right in the red shirt.

Here he is on page 5 of the current commemorative issue of LIFE magazine, available on newsstands now. The caption reads:

Jason Cascone, 22, finished his training on September 10, 2001. The next morning his mother woke him and said there was a fire at the World Trade Center. Her remembers being transported to his first assignment with 50 other firefighters: "There was this chaplain on the bus and he was giving absolution to everyone."

In the aftermath of September 11, Jason worked 24-hour shifts at Ground Zero (24 on, 24 off) with his fellow firefighters and other rescue workers. He told me when I spoke to him that week that the worst thing about it, other than losing some of his new-found friends and colleagues, was finding and seeing the victims' body parts in the rubble. "They're all over the place," he said.

I was watching from the sixth-floor cafeteria of my school, Long Island City High School in Astoria, when the second plane hit Tower Two. We had a clear, unobstructed view of the towers which stood about six miles to the south. We had to close all the shades in the hallways on the south side of the building, not because we didn't want the kids to see it, but so they wouldn't become traffic jams between periods. I was in class, trying to keep my 11th-graders calm, when the towers fell.

By the end of the day, as I was finally able to access the internet and listen to radio news, I had heard that a great number of New York City firefighters had perished in the collapse of the towers, and that virtually all of them had been called to duty. I immediately thought of Jason, and thankfully, his mother informed me that he was OK and that he had been called in after the collapse.

I'm tremendously proud of Jason, as I'm sure we all are within the Natchez family of him and of everyone who has contributed to the rescue and recovery effort in lower Manhattan.

Main page | "Friends, Alma Mater and Taps" - lyrics and mp3 | Bunk Pictures | Alumni Directory
Camp Anne photos - July 2003 | News Article on Camp Anne (7/25/03)
News article on the sale of Camp Natchez to NY State AHRC (12/14/00)
Renovation photos, September 2001 | Renovation photos, July 2002
March 2002: Phil Gundy, Camp America, 1972 | November 2001: NYC Firefighter Jason Cascone
October 2001: Tribute to Mike Tosti