Home » Gift Guide » Gifts for Holidays » Patriot Day 9.11 » Who Were The Firefighters Who Raised The Flag On 9/11?

Who Were The Firefighters Who Raised The Flag On 9/11?


You may have heard about the “Raising The Flag At Ground Zero” photo. 

Three firefighters are raising the American flag at that scene, but who are they? What did they do it for?

We will help you find out the answer to “Who were the firefighters who raised the flag on 9/11?” You can also have an overview of this historical event.

Let’s follow our post!  learn more about 9/11 flag.

Who Were The Firefighters Who Raised The Flag On 9/11? 

The September 11 attacks, also called 9/11, involved coordinated terrorist attacks on the United States.

Nineteen attackers hijacked four planes on September 11, 2001. They used the plan to destroy important buildings across the U.S.A.

This video will show you more about the attacks:

The Fire Department of New York City deployed more than 200 units (about half of the department) to the rescue. 

The three Brooklyn firefighters you see in the photo were:

  • George Johnson (from the Ladder 157)
  • Dan McWilliams (from the Ladder 157
  • Billy Eisengrein (from the Rescue 2)

1. Three New York firefighters were raising the flag

McWilliams noticed the flag lying on a yacht when he was going past the North Cove marina. It was just about one block from the side of the towers. 

A flash of brilliance struck, and he seized it, asking his fellow firefighters Eisengrein and Johnson to help him take the American flag to the southeast side of the devastation, later known as “Ground Zero.”

The three plucked a torn green flag and substituted it with the American flag after seeing a pole sticking out of a large pile of rubble.

They lifted it so that search and rescue teams looking for survivors could spot it from the destruction below.

The flag started to fly as the wind blew. You could imagine how outstanding the flag’s blue, red, and white hues were on gray, thick smoke. 

The Story Behind Thomas E. Franklin Taking The Picture 

Thomas E. Franklin, a photographer for “The Record” newspaper, captured this moment. It became viral immediately. 

Here is what happened with Thomas E. Franklin on that day:

At 8 a.m, the editor informed Franklin that a plane was hitting the World Trade Center. He also learned about the plane’s crash into the south tower of the WTC. 

Franklin arrived in Jersey City at the riverfront. As an experienced photographer, he chose the best place to view the WTC clearly. 

The photographer got his camera prepared. He took pictures of the ferries carrying injured people and the formation of triage areas. 

At noon, the ferries started to peter out. Franklin, with another photographer, John Wheeler, persuaded the police to let them join a tugboat for New York.

Franklin landed at WTC 7. This 47-story building would later. Cops had threatened to arrest the photographer many times as he entered Ground Zero farther.

Franklin was going with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer James Nachtwey, who revealed to Franklin that he had just escaped death in that zone.

Around 5 p.m, Franklin and Nachtwey were resting while taking some juice and water. He noticed a trio of firemen.

When Franklin first noticed the firefighters flying the flag, he was 150 yards away. They were on a building that was 20 feet above the ground.

There were around 100 yards between the background and foreground. The photographer used a long lens to highlight the size of the debris behind them.

2. Everything happening on that day was terrible

Other Pictures That Captured The Moment 

“Raising The Flag At Ground Zero,” taken by Thomas E. Franklin, was the most famous photo of the three firefighters.

However, at that time, Lori Grinker (from the “People” magazine) and Ricky Flores (from the “Journal-News”) also captured it. 

Lori Grinker

Grinker nearly missed the shot in the chaos and misery of that day. 

She was a freelancer who frequently traveled and had recently moved into a house in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg area.

Everything she had was still in boxes. She had recently completed chemotherapy and radiation for non-lymphoma Hodgkin’s treatment. So, she was still on her way to a checkup when her landlord nagged her to turn on the TV.

She rushed out the door and over the Williamsburg Bridge with a Canon and some Kodachrome film. She didn’t even change her sandals into sneakers. 

Grinker maneuvered through masses of weeping people, sometimes stopping to let some people use her phone. 

She borrowed films from other photographers since she didn’t have enough. 

She took selective pictures as she passed, such as one of some abandoned shoes covered in ash, one of a hanging traffic light, and firefighters carrying someone’s remains. Among them was the photo of three firefighters raising the U.S flag. 

Ricky Flores

Flores, a native of the Bronx, had just sent his kids to school in Westchester as his wife called.

He started right away and drove before reaching police roadblocks. He then parked his car behind a truck and drove to Ground Zero.

Flores was shocked by the blazing cars and the firefighters’ expressions as they crawled away from the site as he arrived.

Dust blanketed everything. Flores found a view of the debris and fires at 1 World Financial Center via a broken window and saw firefighters staring out. 

He decided that a bridge to the south would give a better view. He thought the view through the windows would be excellent as he watched the firefighters holding the flag try to climb onto a trailer. Then, he captured the scene. 

3. There were many famous photos taken on that day


The pictures can reflect how tragic, and fierce the September 11 attacks were. 

Every year, when it’s September 11, American citizens commemorate all dead firefighters, law enforcement officers, and people caused by the tragedy. 

Hopefully, you will find this post helpful and informative. For any further information, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading! 

You May Also Like