LYNNWOOD - Financial company Morgan Stanley was the largest tenant of the World Trade Center, occupying 20 floors.
Out of the 3,700 employees in the building, all but 13 survived the attacks.
One of those survivors, Dan Pelletier, lives in the Puget Sound area. He was in New York City for training on Sept. 11.
At key points in his life, Dan gets guidance from a little voice in the back of his head. There was the one that said, "that's her" when the woman who would become his wife walked into the room in 1984.
And there was the one that said "go have a smoke" when he was on the 61st floor of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.
That voice put Dan in harm's way -- in a crowd running for cover. He stopped and looked at a fire burning in tower one, trying to understand what was happening, when he heard a thunderous noise - but didn't know what it was.
He later learned it was the second jet - engines full throttle.
Running For Cover
"There was this earthquake," he describes. "And a thud. And people screaming. And then an explosion.
"You could see the debris hitting the ground and coming towards me like this grey curtain. There were people on the ground being helped by medics, they were evacuating the buildings, people on the streets, and the debris. Just coming down."
Dan ran for cover again.
Five hours and eight miles later, he was back at his hotel, and called his wife, Jan. He took a bus back to Seattle.
"I think about it everyday," Dan says. "I usually try to keep pretty busy. Specifically, so I don't think about it all day long."
What a year to start a new career. He's now a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley.
He is battered. He is edgy.
'I Have To Give Back'
While talking to KOMO 4 News, he paused and looked at a plane flying overhead.
"Plane," he observed and paused. "I actually leave my house to look at planes. Once in awhile, one will come over the house fairly low, and it's not a good thing."
Dan did not seek counseling. But he talks a lot with his wife.
He lost his wedding ring on Sept. 11 and bought new, matching rings for both of them. They are closer than ever.
He is healing.
"I have to give back," he says emphatically. "That's all I know. I have to give back."
What did Dan get that makes him feel he has to give something back?
"I'm alive," he answers. "By inches. That stuff that was flying over my head, over my shoulder, whizzing past my ears and exploding on the sidewalk? I'm here by inches."
The way Sept. 11 looked and the way it sounded, those things are burned in his memory. He says he is not blessed to have survived it.
"That implies that the people who didn't make it, weren't blessed," he says. "And there were some of those people who were far better than I am."
Dan Pelletier says he is simply a smoker who listened to a voice in the back of his head, and got lucky.
Sept. 11, In Dan Pelletier's Words
Below is a letter Pelletier wrote, unedited, on Sept. 21, 2001, describing the horror he went through during the terror attacks.
I finally made it home Wednesday the 19th of September.
As many of you know, at the end of August I was hired by Morgan Stanley. On September 9, 2001, I flew to New York City for three weeks of training.
It was my first time in New York. My cab ride to the hotel on the Upper East Side took me past names and places I had only read or heard about.
Monday the tenth was the first day of class…there were 273 trainees on the sixty-first floor of the World Trade Center, Tower 2.
The view was breathtaking. To look down on New York harbor, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island…Looking uptown to the Empire State building and the Chrysler building…Wow!
We left our first day of orientation in the pouring rain. I had time to toss a quarter over my shoulder into the churchyard of Trinity Church (across from the New York Stock Exchange) as per tradition (for luck), and rode a subway back uptown. I was ready. Bring on the learning!
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 class began at 7:30 with Philip Roth, chief technical analyst for Morgan Stanley. I was in my element. He spoke for a little over an hour. We had a break and were to resume at 9:00.
I got up to leave and have a cigarette. Had a bit of an argument with myself (Those voices in my head…) about taking my eyeglasses. "Take your glasses case, no just the sunglasses, take the case…Take your jacket with your cell-phone and palm…"
Hey, I was just going out for a cig…so I put on my sunglasses and rode the elevators down 61 floors (ignoring the voices in my head).
I looked at my watch as I exited the south side of Tower 2. 8:48…Lots of time.
As I walked out onto the Liberty Street Plaza, a sound assaulted my ears. There was no visual frame of reference. It was a screaming roar that turned into a crash that turned into a basso profundo explosion. People screamed. I looked up.
Over the top of, and around the sides of Tower 2 was a fireball, smoke, and stuff. Stuff in the sky falls. No understanding, it was simply fight or flee mentality that took over.
In front of me in the plaza, there were large concrete planters to prevent terrorists from bombing the buildings. I ran for a gap. People were already bunched up there. I dodged to the left gap. Folks were running.
Ten or so feet to my left the cluster of people got through the gap, there were four or six of them…a large piece of something the size of a Volkswagen slammed into them…they disappeared…gone forever.
Off to my right brick size chunks of stuff were slamming into the sidewalk.
I ran leftish towards Building 4 that had a bit of an overhang. A tubular pedestrian barrier used by construction workers was in my way. I cleared it in a perfect hurdle (those of you who know me well can laugh at that one). A woman stood there next to the overhang, screaming, frozen. I spun her and slammed her into a corner covering our heads until the sound of falling stuff stopped.
Have you ever heard a dump truck empty a load of gravel? The sound of small stones raining on pavement? That was the sound. Glass, chunks of concrete, and steel, without the scraping off the bed of the truck sound. An evil rain of murder.
Flaming stuff, the tinkle of glass. Debris falling and littering the plaza.
The silence before the sirens.
A twisted metal (about 3' x 8') moebius strip lay smoking twenty-five feet away.
The sky was filled with papers, confetti of misfortune carried off in the wind.
I was unsure of what just happened. I just saw some folks die…but I had no idea what really happened.
I walked around Building 4, up the street a bit and climbed a raised plaza next to the Millennium Hotel.
And looked up at Tower 1.
The flames coming out the windows were all wrong. Something was not right about the fire itself.
Someone said a plane crashed into the building. I disbelieved it. A Cessna could not do that much damage.
The office buildings began to empty and the streets began to fill with the onlookers, workers, and folks on their way to work.
I tried to borrow a cell-phone but there was no signal. I needed to call my wife to tell her I was okay.
I milled about, I had no idea what to do…I looked for co-workers and smoked a cigarette. A jet was flying out over the harbor, framed in the blue sky.
I did not see it turn as it passed behind the burning, doomed Tower 1.
I did hear the roaring scream of the engines at full throttle as it slammed into Tower 2.
When you see the pictures on the television, the 767 that took off with 13,900 gallons of jet-fuel slam into the tower, I was on the opposite side. I could not have seen the plane. The explosion out the other side? It was right above me.
The roaring scream turned into a crash that turned into a huge explosion and the entire upper side of the building came out in a fireball towards me.
The fireball…the explosion…and the whole upper floors of the building coming out towards me…those were the floors I was just on 20 minutes ago.
But there was something else that you will never see on the television. You will never hear it. The made for TV movie will not get it right. It was the sound…
The roaring scream turned into a crash that turned into a huge explosion and the two hundred thousand people that had cleared their offices began to scream. And run. I shall always be haunted by the melding of the sounds, and the final scream of a city's humanity running in terror.
I said my favorite one syllable curse word.
There was no bravery, no heroics…Blind panic set in, and I ran with the crowd.
It was ugly. People were pushing. People were being trampled. Stuff falling out of the sky was taking its toll on people around me. The crowd took on a seething fluid quality finding the path of least resistance with the serpent's survival mind.
I rode the crowd to a tree and stood behind the tree, holding on for dear life as the crowd parted around me.
Once again, an evil rain of murder was moving towards me. The debris of concrete, steel, busted up, blown apart God knows what was moving out and away from Tower 2, a swathe that laid waste to everything in it's path, leaving nothing behind but blood and doom. I could hear the rain of terror (a clattering tattoo of debris) getting closer over the din of screaming, left the safety of the tree and rode the crowd again. I darted around a corner.
I had no idea what was occurring inside Tower 2. As far as I knew, my entire class of 273 trainees was dead.
I knew my glasses, blazer, cell-phone, and Palm were toast…And I had just witnessed hell…I was alone, and lost in Gotham.
I walked in circles around the canyons of Wall Street, I had no idea which way to go, no sense of direction…muttering "Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God".
More confetti of anguish filled the air.
Dazed, confused, I tried to call Jan (my wife) and tell her I was all right. Phones were dead. Oh my God, I could not tell her I was alive!!!
I knew she would watch this on the television from three thousand miles away and not know…
I began to ask directions north. I was given many different answers…
"North? What's north?"
"Go that way."
"No go that way."
I wandered. Folks were gathered around cars with radios on. It was a hijacked jet (made sense)…"and there were two more up there".
I was still close enough to Tower 2 when it went down to hear it, and feel the rumble in the street. My back was turned. I heard the noise. There were "Two more out there". I ran for cover.
My walk north took me to the east river via Delancy Street (yeah, I crossed it), where I began to walk to the real north. Two Bond analysts took me under their wings, walked with me to Grand Central Station, and provided directions back to the Upper East Side.
It was almost five hours before I finally got a call through to Jan.
Many wives, husbands, sons and daughters would never get that call.
It would be a week before I would feel her arms around me again…and until that moment, I was not sure if my life was real.
Somewhere I lost my ring (pretty sure it's buried in the ruble by the tree…).
I replaced my cell days later and got to hear all my messages of folks telling me to call them.
All my phone numbers were in my Palm. Although (the smart guy I am), I always have a hard copy extra…in my briefcase…. gone.
But I was alive. Traumatized, but alive.
Morgan Stanley occupied twenty floors of 2 World Trade Center. There were roughly three thousand eight hundred and seventy three Morgan Stanley employees there that Tuesday morning. All but six are accounted for and safe. My entire class made it out safely.
They began an escape as soon as the first plane struck Tower 1.
I have a good friend who was on the 54th floor landing of the emergency exit of Tower 2 when the plane struck.
He had no idea that a plane had struck either tower until he exited the tower; he did know something was seriously wrong. By the time he made it to the 15th floor, they could smell smoke and kerosene (jet fuel).
Fourteen Morgan Stanley Tower 2 survivors got on a chartered bus and headed west towards home. I noticed that the further west I headed, the more callus people were. By the time I got to Portland Oregon to see my sister, many folks had the attitude that it was something on television. I was told it was "unreal". It was like a movie.
It was nothing like a movie. Not even close to television.
It was very real. They struck at our heart. They killed thousands of innocents in a single fell blow.
We have tried the peace bit for thirty years. It is never good enough, they always want more. I do believe we just got the wake-up call.
The world has changed. My life has changed.
Some say that I am blessed to be alive. I say that that implies that 6,330 were what…damned? Not blessed? Some were most likely far better and more honorable than I.
Nay, I am not blessed. I am simply a smoker, who got lucky.
Right now, I am simply glad to be at home with the love of my life…and my friends.
I get a second chance. That option was never provided for six plus thousand.
And that my friends is what made this act worse than any act of war…this goes beyond terrorism…this goes beyond the barbaric. The uninformed liberals of this nation who are barking false words and justifications for these actions should have been there. They should be helping instead of talking (which is very cheap).
Too much speech and not enough thought has transformed this country into a fat slovenly parking lot of inaction. Folks think they can protest and that protesting is action. Protesting is a waste of supposed action.
As I type this Hollywood fakes are trying to join the cause from a safe distance…"Give give give" they say.
I believe the final toll will be far more than six thousand. We have given.
Give back some of the millions we have given you over the years and stop using the deaths of innocents for your own publicity.
Most are pulling together. But there are a few…
Oh…By the way…I don't think they're finished with us, and appeasement has never worked.
I'm going to go hug Jan.
September 21, 2001
Above is, and will remain unedited for content. Total deaths are currently estimated at just shy of three thousand.
Total deaths for Morgan Stanley were thirteen (out of four thousand employees in the tower at the time of the attacks).