TAMPA, Fla. - Bryan Stern, the founder and CEO of Project Dynamo, the nonprofit organization that rescues Americans and allies from disaster and war zones around the world, was right by the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001.
He was an Army Corporal living in Brooklyn at the time. On 9/11, he was commuting from home to Lower Manhattan and when he got off the train, the first tower was already hit.
"This woman yelled out, ‘oh my god there’s another one,’ and we heard this - I really can’t describe it - it sounded like a freight train, which was the second plane that flew into tower two," Stern said. "When the plane flew into tower two, the exit hole on the other side, I was on the other side of that, so all of that debris and stuff fell on top of us in the plaza."
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He says he jumped into action to help, but debris kept falling and then the tower collapsed.
"This huge, giant, and fast, like a tsunami, it was like that, this cloud of stuff racing up the streets," Stern said.
Stern said he was burnt and cut up, and he earned a Purple Heart. His experience during the chaos and in the aftermath inspired him to launch Project Dynamo.
"The fire in my belly to rescue Americans where the government isn’t, that all starts with 9/11 for me," Stern said. "Whether it be in Maui, or whether it be in Afghanistan, it doesn’t really matter to me, we show up, and that’s what 9/11 taught me, is that when push comes to shove, people work together."
Project Dynamo is donation-based. For more information, click here: https://www.projectdynamo.org/