The National Wrestling Hall of Fame would like to pay tribute to all those who died in the World Trade Center or as rescue workers and firefighters on September 11, 2001. We extend a special remembrance to our three Hall of Fame Medal of Courage recipients for their heroic efforts during the 9-11 attacks on the United States. Because of them countless lives were saved and these brave patriots proved that the greatest courage is giving your life to save others.
Chief Raymond Downey
Being a hero was nothing new to New York Fire Department Chief Raymond Downey. The well-respected leader had risen through the ranks to earn the title of Chief of Special Operations and led task forces that responded to the Oklahoma City bombing, Hurricane Marilyn and the Atlanta Olympics. In addition, he was a team leader in response to Hurricanes Hugo, Andres, Fran, and Opal. Downey was a panel member of the Gilmore Commission, and a Presidential Committee on Terrorism, which had been assessing domestic response capabilities for terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction. Author of the book “The Rescue Company”, and a series of videos on collapse operations, Downey received the Crystal Apple Award, issued by the Mayor of New York, on July 23, 2001. When the events of Sept. 11 occurred it was no wonder that Downey was among those responding to rescue efforts at the World Trade Center when the buildings collapsed. Downey was also known as the parent of some very talented wrestling sons; Joe, a former Hofstra University wrestler, and Ray, a former high school state champion and Hofstra wrestler.
Growing up, Jeremy Glick excelled in several sports, including wrestling. However, his greatest accomplishment may very well have taken place on the now-famous United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed outside of Pittsburgh. Glick was one of the passengers on the ill-fated flight that thwarted the attempts of its hijackers to use it as a weapon against others. Armed with nothing more than a plastic knife, Glick and a handful of other brave passengers stormed the cockpit and defeated their foes. The former high school captain, who was an all-state wrestler for Saddle River Day School in Northern, N.J., surprised no one with his actions “Immediately, I knew he was the one who took them down,” Joe Auginiello, Glick’s high school soccer coach, said. “I guarantee it. He was a tough, hard-nosed kid. He was my captain, the protector on my team, and if you gave him a bloody nose, and knocked his teeth out, he would still be coming after you. He wasn’t the most talented kid on the team, but Lord, you never wanted to be in that kid’s way.” Undoubtedly, the lessons learned while playing lacrosse, soccer, judo and wrestling paid off in Glick’s greatest feat — the conquest of Flight 93.
After a wrestling career that saw him claim a PSAL championship for Tottenville High School and qualify for the NCAA Championships while competing for Seton Hall University, Mark Whitford learned never to back down from a challenge. A third-year firefighter for Engine Co. 23 in Manhattan, Whitford once again answered the call on Sept. 11. A chauffeur for his department, he was to stay with the truck, but Whitford was having none of it. He called his wife before abandoning his post to enter the World Trade Center to ensure the safety of others. It was Whitford’s dream to serve on a rescue company and on the eve of the attacks he found out he had been accepted into Staten Island’s elite Rescue 5. After graduating from Seton Hall with a degree in Business Management in 1993, Whitford took a job as a financial advisor for Chase Manhattan Bank, where he worked until he began to chase his career dream. He was accepted into the Fire Department in 1997 and worked for Brooklyn’s Ladder Co. 147 and Engine Co. 152 in Rosebank, before assuming his duties at Engine Co. 23. “He was incredibly happy. That’s why he didn’t stay with the truck. It was in his blood. He was a rescuer,” his wife, Renee Whitford, said.