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Jamestown man's collection of 9/11 reference material may be largest outside of national memorial

JAMESTOWN, N.D.--Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, Larry Phillips of Jamestown said he is still very angry. Phillips, who said he believes he has the largest collection of 9/11 reference material other than the National September 11 Memorial ...

Jim Reuther
Jim Reuther

JAMESTOWN, N.D.-Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, Larry Phillips of Jamestown said he is still very angry.

Phillips, who said he believes he has the largest collection of 9/11 reference material other than the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., before moving to Long Island, which stretches northeast from New York Harbor into the Atlantic Ocean.

"For somebody to do something like that to my New York ... to me is an absolute travesty," he said. "For me to talk about it and explain my feelings and talk about the close personal friends that I lost, to talk about them keeps their memories alive."

Phillips, who is the CEO of Signal 10 Group and chief instructor at Northwest Region Fire/Rescue, first heard about the 9/11 attacks when his friend, Jimmy Giovanniello, who was with the Queens-based Squad 270, called to tell him about a plane crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

"He goes, "Have you heard?'" Phillips recalls, adding the conversation will always be engraved in his mind. "And I said, 'Heard what?' He said, 'Turn your TV on. You won't believe what you see. We are heading out right now, and I will talk to you later.'"

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Phillips said he had to do a routine inspection south of Jamestown for his job with the Signal 10 Group where he helps businesses, in particular agribusiness properties, come into compliance with federal, state and local regulations in reference to facility safety. But, Phillips stayed home for a little while longer to watch the news.

"That is when the second plane hit the second tower," he said. "Then I thought to myself, 'This is not going to be good. This is no longer an accident.'"

During Phillips drive to his inspection, he heard on the radio that another plane crashed into the Pentagon and another report about a plane crashing in Somerset County, Pa.

"I went to make my inspection, but my heart wasn't in it," he said. "I was just going through the motions that day. And of course I couldn't be by radio or TV because I had a job to do."

Phillips, who said he is now a student of 9/11 and got his start in fire service in New York, said he personally knew six firefighters who died trying to help others at the World Trade Center after the attacks.

Jamestown Fire Chief Jim Reuther said he was working at the time of the attacks, and others at the Jamestown Fire Department didn't know the first plane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center until receiving a phone call from one of the members.

"We turned the TV on and pretty much spent the rest of the day watching the national news," Reuther recalls. "I couldn't believe what was going on in front of our eyes."

The first plane crashing into the World Trade Center was a surprise, he said, but when the second one crashed into the south tower, Reuther knew it was an act of terrorism.

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The 9/11 images that stick out most to him are the people running in the streets, the papers coming down from the towers, the dust and all the people who were hurt, he said. The firefighters and other first responders were all heroic in their response to help.

"You run into a building all the time when people are exiting the building to try to take care of the problem or whatever the situation is-a fire or whatever it may be," Reuther said.

During that day, Reuther said he never thought he would see three Jamestown firefighters being activated through the National Guard. Guardsmen from the North Dakota National Guard unit in Jamestown were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Larry Phillips of Jamestown stands next to what he believes is the largest collection of 9/11 reference material other than the 9/11 Memorial Museum at his Signal 10 Group office in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Larry Phillips of Jamestown stands next to what he believes is the largest collection of 9/11 reference material other than the 9/11 Memorial Museum at his Signal 10 Group office in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Larry Phillips of Jamestown stands next to what he believes is the largest collection of 9/11 reference material other than the 9/11 Memorial Museum at his Signal 10 Group office in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Larry Phillips of Jamestown stands next to what he believes is the largest collection of 9/11 reference material other than the 9/11 Memorial Museum at his Signal 10 Group office in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Related Topics: JAMESTOWN
Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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