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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
'Unknown' rescuer recounts 9/11
Jason Thomas
Jason Thomas has received belated public recognition for his efforts
A former US marine who was recently revealed to be the mysterious rescuer of 11 September has talked about the part he played that day.

Jason Thomas was one of two ex-marines who dug for 90 minutes to rescue two police officers from the rubble of the destroyed World Trade Center.

He came forward a few weeks ago after realising the story of his efforts featured in the new Oliver Stone film.

But he insists those who went into the burning buildings were the real heroes.

Mr Thomas had been out of the Marine Corps for about a year on 11 September 2001.

But when the planes hit the twin towers and they collapsed, he donned his uniform and headed to Ground Zero to help out.

There he met Staff Sergeant David Karnes, another marine, who had had the same idea.

"We approached the pile of rubble carefully and came to a beam about five feet beneath us, and this whole time we were yelling and shouting into the holes 'United States marines, Anyone down there?'" he told the BBC's Today programme.

He said he lay down on the beam and heard a voice "so low... I thought my ears were playing tricks on me".

He said together they dug for about an hour and a half before realising they needed extra help and equipment, and went in search of other rescue teams.


Mr Thomas lived in Long Island at the time of the attacks but now works as a court officer in Ohio.

He was unaware for years that the authorities had wondered about his identity, or that his story was being told in Oliver Stone's film World Trade Center.

Ground Zero in December 2001
The two marines climbed through rubble to rescue survivors

All that changed a few weeks ago.

"I saw a trailer for the movie and I see these two military persons, they both have military fatigues on and one is kneeling down with a flashlight and the other one is standing right above him and they appear to be shining this flashlight into a hole," he told Today.

"And as I'm sitting here, watching this trailer, I get chills and here it is, I know this scene and that's how I knew that, hey this is, this is me."

Mr Thomas, 32, said he had chosen to remain silent for so many years because: "I really didn't want to discuss the events that took place."

He told the Associated Press in August that he felt that as "a tough marine" he could "deal with it".

"I did deal with it. But, you know, when you're alone it really comes back to haunt you, in the worst way."

He told AP he was no hero. "Those guys who ran up in there and risked their lives, those are heroes".

George Bush laying a wreath at Ground Zero


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