Arizona first responders, others remember 9/11 attacks on 20th anniversary

Sep 10, 2021, 11:58 AM | Updated: 3:10 pm
(KTAR News Photo/Danny Shapiro)...
(KTAR News Photo/Danny Shapiro)
(KTAR News Photo/Danny Shapiro)

PHOENIX — All week, KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show has paid tribute to first responders and their families in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that shook the nation.

Guests joined the show to share their experiences of the fateful day and the aftermath, whether they were in Arizona, New York City or elsewhere.

Here’s a recap of the week’s guests:

Frank Milstead

Milstead, former director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, was a lieutenant with the Phoenix Police Department at the time of the attacks.

He heard about the New York terror attacks when he was getting into his truck leaving his graveyard shift.

“As I worked my way home that morning and went to sleep, the world had changed,” Milstead said.

Milstead said Phoenix police paid overtime and took staff from other areas in the following months to protect city assets.

David Krietor

Krietor was the aviation director at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in 2001.

When the World Trade Center attacks happened, he was watching on a TV at the gym.

Krietor immediately rushed to the airport, where he ended up staying for the next two days.

Thousands of passengers were diverted to Phoenix as air travel came to a stop.

“We dealt with diversions before, but never that number,” Krietor said. “We brought them all into the terminals.”

Mick McGuire

McGuire was serving in the National Guard as an F-16 instructor in Tucson.

He was supposed to fly that day, but an officer stopped him and others after a report of an aircraft flying into one of the World Trade Center towers.

McGuire saw live footage of the towers falling.

He said crews spent the next 94 days training on night vision goggle flights to protect the areas between San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas.

“I’m quite proud of how the whole team rallied down there,” McGuire said.

John Hook

Hook, an anchor for FOX 10 in Phoenix, had just returned from vacation when 9/11 happened.

He wanted to get to New York immediately, but it couldn’t happen because air travel was grounded.

Hook ended up there several times in the next few years for various events, including the Arizona Diamondbacks’ World Series run and President George Bush’s second election campaign.

“I was there a lot,” Hook said. “You couldn’t escape the sorrow of it all.”

Jerry Colangelo

Colangelo was at a meeting for Major League Baseball owners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during the 9/11 attacks. Baseball shut down for a week before returning.

Just over a month later, Colangelo’s Arizona Diamondbacks were playing in New York against the Yankees for the World Series title.

Colangelo remembers being in New York for the World Series and parts of the city still smoldering.

“It was a little weird,” Colangelo said. “It was very sad and emotional for all of us.”

Baseball’s return and the seven-game World Series, won by the D-backs, was a soothing moment for a country trying to regain its footing, Colangelo believes.

“The fact that we were there for that moment in history, it can’t be forgotten,” Colangelo said.

Mike Angelone

Angelone, a 13-year veteran with the New York City Fire Department, was driving in Scottsdale when the attacks occurred.

He knew he had to get back to New York to help out his fellow firefighters.

Angelone got on a flight when air travel resumed and worked 12 consecutive days trying to sift through rubble for survivors.

“The heat and smoke were crazy,” Angelone said. “It was still smoldering as if everything was burning right underneath you.”

Angelone ended up losing 30 people he was close with and more that he knew.

He’s going back to New York for the 20-year anniversary.

“The hardest thing is seeing the families of those we lost,” Angelone said.

Luis Gonzalez

Gonzalez will always be known for his World Series-winning hit for the Diamondbacks, but some of his most vivid memories from 20 years ago are from an off day in New York City during the series.

The team decided to visit ground zero, more than a month after the attacks. They spoke with officials and surveyed the damage.

“They were still searching with smoke still coming from the buildings,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone was just trying to help.”

The D-backs’ World Series victory is one that will always be intertwined with 9/11. The players’ title rings were engraved with “Never Forget.”

“There was something more important than the World Series happening there,” Gonzalez said. “It was eye-opening.”

Mike McAvoy

McAvoy lost both his brother and best friend on 9/11.

He was working in Brooklyn at the time of the attacks and went in search of his brother, John, at his station.

“I found a guy I knew and he looked like he saw a ghost,” McAvoy said. “He said they weren’t finding anyone…all 12 firefighters didn’t come back.”

McAvoy’s best friend, Jimmy, was also lost that day.

Jimmy was the best man in McAvoy’s wedding. He was on the 104th floor of the north tower.

“It’s difficult losing people. They didn’t get to raise children because of hatred,” McAvoy said. “It was beautiful to see the community rally, but I’m still angry. That’ll never go away.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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Arizona first responders, others remember 9/11 attacks on 20th anniversary