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From the 42nd Floor of Tower 2 - 9/11 Testimonial from a Survivor, Hero, and Marine Inside the Occupy Marines RanksDavid Batan Salem-News.com
David A. (Batman) Batan USMC is an Occupy Marine and Salem-News.com writer.
(NEW YORK) - Eleven years ago, this past September 11th, I was on the 42nd floor of Tower 2. I did temp work as an "office bitch" for some insurance company. I only started a few months earlier.
I was there early that fateful morning when the first plane crashed on Tower 1. Not knowing what really had happened at that time to the opposite building, my co-workers and I felt its impact in Tower 2. No official evacuation warning was announced, but I stood up, gathered my belongings and headed for the staircase.
I started walking down FORTY-TWO flights of steps. By the time I was in the mid-30s, the second plane crashed into my building; everyone panicked. I started running downstairs. It seemed like forever but I finally I reached the ground floor. I was shocked to see the outside covered with rubble, debris, and ash. Not a lot of folks wanted to go outside that war zone. I took my chances of dashing out into that dangerous area to the safety of the next block or so.
I had a split second to decide: stay and wait for rescue inside the ground floor just like everyone else, or make a run for it. Remembering my combat training from the Marines, I maneuvered myself into the falling rubble, it was a risky maze of just one block. I was one of the few who took that chance of escaping from the rubble. I made it out to safety, about half-hour before the Tower 2 collapsed.
It is a reflective day for me and for everyone who survived; not one moment goes by without thinking of my escape. Survivor’s guilt: it can make you or it can destroy you. I chose the former; I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had let my guilt destroy me. I count my blessings.
I also have the utmost respect for the Marine Corps, especially the stress of boot camp nineteen years ago, that prepared me for something like this. If it weren’t for the Corps’ instilled discipline, this Marine would not be alive today to share his story. I adapted, improvised, and I overcame.
This is in honor for those who lost their lives.
This is the first time ever that I’m coming out about my ordeal and guilt with my 'brothers/sisters-in-arms' and I feel so much better now after bottling it inside me for so long. What a better time to let it all out now than today.
It was not an easy eleven-year “reclusion” for me, but time heals things.
I still suffer from flashbacks from the ordeal, combat-related PTSD at worst.
I have come to realize that the best way to honor the loss is for the survivors to remember them not wallow in guilt.
(In a private conversation David goes on to explain how a dozen or so people followed him out the front that day. Taking courage in his lead, they followed him toward the first block before splitting up in different directions. David never saw them again. A reunion would be fitting for those who remember David's face, and followed him to safety that morning.)
You can contact David on his Facebook Page
It was early-2012 when Salem-News.com writer David A. (Batman) Batan first heard about Occupy Wall Street and found out more about the movement. He wanted to find out what the common thread was that connects U.S. Marine veterans with the OWS movement via Occupy MARINES. Facebook was an invaluable tool, David came across Occupy MARINES' page, he "Liked" the page and started following its posts and activities. When David learned that OWS was meeting at Union Square Park, Marines were called in to support the demonstrators and their march. He took the initiative to attend in hopes of meeting fellow Marines. In the next couple of days he started taking pictures of the Occupiers' activities at the park, posted them on the OMC FB page and dubbed his presence there as "firewatch" / "boots on the ground." That's how Laz Long and/or Jaggie Butts found out about David and asked him to join the team.
David's survival of 9/11 in the most stark and dangerous terms provides this activist and writer with the drive to see things carried out fairly and above board. New York Police abusing females sat very poorly with Batman and Lazarus and the other members of Occupy MARINES, the rest is history and today the group is larger than ever, as is their mission.
Special thanks to OCCUPY POLICE
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