FDNY firefighter shares 9/11 survival story

Posted at 7:22 PM, Sep 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-11 19:22:29-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Ask Lt. Clarence Singleton about his traumatic 9/11 experiences and he doesnt hesitate to answer.

The former New York City firefighter said talking about September 11th, 2001 is a form of therapy. On this the 12th anniversary, he is still dealing with the grief from that day.

"The collapse of the towers was very loud. It was almost deafening. It's a sound I'll never forget," said Singleton. "It is a tough time of year for me."

Clarence Singleton, who now lives in Midlothian, said his heart and mind are in New York City as he remembers rushing to Ground Zero on 9/11 to lend a helping hand.

"The buildings were burning but still standing," said Singleton.

The retired firefighter battled ferocious flames, blinding smoke and choking dust that day along with hundreds of his fellow jakes.

"It was the last time I saw those two guys alive," said Singleton.

When the Twin Towers started falling, Singleton and hundreds of others started fleeing for their lives. He would separate his shoulder running away from the building.

Singleton still battles demons, especially on this day. The decorated Vietnam veteran also responded to first terror attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.

"It's total sadness because let's face it I lost a lot of friends," Singleton said. "I have tried everything under the sun, but nothing has given me total relief yet."

What is providing him some relief is the book he has written, "The Heart of a Hero," which he says was therapeutic for him and might help someone else who carries a lot of pain.

"I might be that beacon of hope for someone that just can't see any light at the end of the tunnel just by sharing my experiences," Singleton said.

Walk into Singleton's home and one of the first things you notice are a pair of dust covered boots he wore at Ground Zero. Those boots are sitting on top of a picture of Osama Bin Laden.