Sept. 11 'Mystery Samaritan' Finally Comes Forward
In the five years since the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon, there have been countless stories of survival and loss, joy and tragedy. But one story has only recently come to light -- a story of personal sacrifice in the face of unspeakable danger.
Jason Thomas, a former Marine, rushed from his Long Island home to Manhattan that bright Tuesday morning with his military fatigues in the trunk of his car, and little else. He found equipment along the way to Ground Zero and doggedly made his way to a place where most others were trying to flee.
After stopping to help firefighters and getting an injured man into an ambulance, he met up with fellow ex-Marine David Karnes. Amid the chaos, the two of them decided to mount a search-and-rescue effort, and stepped out onto what would later be called The Pile.
Walking and sometimes crawling over the mountain of debris left when the twin towers collapsed, Thomas and Karnes discovered two survivors: Port Authority police officers John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, who would become the last survivors pulled from the rubble.
After a long day of fighting the smoke and heat -- and seeing the officers safe -- Thomas went home, showered, took a nap and returned to Ground Zero. He would volunteer on The Pile for another two-and-a-half weeks.
For five years, Thomas never spoke about that harrowing first day at Ground Zero, or about his key role in saving the lives of McLoughlin and Jimeno. His identity remained a mystery until recently, when he finally stepped forward to tell his story.
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