The Man with the Red Bandana

Ten years.

I can’t believe that a decade has come and gone.

It was a day that will forever be remembered. It was a day that changed the world. These cowardly acts rocked the foundation of our country, but instead of crumbling, America pulled together and came out stronger than ever.

“These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” -George W. Bush

Though this day will forever be remembered for the losses America sustained, we should never forget the acts of heroism that took place.

This weekend I went to the UCF vs. Boston College game with my parents. It was a day full of laughs, drinking games, and tons of fun.

All around us fans were sporting their black and gold gear for the Knights, but almost every person in sight had a red bandana incorporated into their outfit. I figured it couldn’t be a coincidence, so I asked my parents why everyone was wearing them.

On September 11, 2001 a Boston College graduate named Welles Crowther was the definition of a hero.


When he was a kid, his dad gave him a white handkerchief and a red bandana. He said the white handkerchief was to keep for show, and the red bandana was for use. From that day forward, Welles would always wear this red bandana whether it be on his way to class or on the lacrosse field.

Welles worked on the 104th floor in the South tower of the World Trade Center. On September 11, 2001 he went to work like every other day. After the first plane stuck the North tower, Welles made a phone call to his mom letting her know that he was okay, and then spoke with one of his friends from college telling him that he was getting ready to head down to the lobby.

And then the second plane struck the South tower.

From that point forward, Welles’ friends and family never heard from him again.

Several months down the road, a story came out in several newspapers about a mysterious man with a red bandana who was responsible for saving the lives of at least a dozen people. These people who were trapped in the South tower above where the plane struck kept popping up and sharing their story about this mystery man.

Every single one of them claimed he was responsible for saving their lives.

When Welles’ mother heard about this story, she immediately wrote to the survivors and attached a picture of her son asking if that indeed was this “man with the red bandana”.

It was.

On September 11, 2001, Welles Crowther sacrificed his own life to save the lives of others. After the plane struck the tower, he searched the floors for survivors and led group after group of people down the stairs to safety. It’s said that he went back up the stairs into the burning building three to four times to save more people. Those who couldn’t walk, he carried down the stairs.

This past Saturday, fans from both UCF and BC fans wore red bandanas to honor Welles Crowther.


On March 19, 2002, Welles’ body was discovered amongst the rubble with the bodies of several firefighters. Instead of heading to safety, he chose to spend the last hour of his life saving the lives of others fighting alongside the brave men of the NY fire department. I can’t even fathom the amount of courage that would take. He is the definition of a hero, one of the bravest men I’ll never get to meet, and someone I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

Seeing thousands of fans honor this man brought tears to my eyes. The acts of bravery that were committed on September 11th will never be forgotten. There are so many stories similar to Welles’ and so many courageous men and women who pulled together on the tragic day.

I will never forget September 11th. I will never forget where I was the moment I found out what happened. I will never forget the nightmares that I had the following nights. I will never forget the bravery of the troops and citizens of America. I will never forget the strength our country is capable of.

Ten years ago Welles made a choice. He made the choice to put others before himself. He made the decision to risk his life in hopes of saving others. So I ask you all, what would you do in the last hour of your life? How would you be remembered? Where were you when the twin towers fell? 


  1. says

    Megan @ Braise the Roof is a BC grad and was telling me the story- so sad!

    It’s kind of ironic, but I was in American History class. My mom was our teacher, and us 16-yr-old kids really didn’t understand the significance, but we knew it was bad because of how my mom reacted when they announced it.

  2. says

    okay…this is about to make me cry. thanks for sharing that story, i’d never heard it before. i bet there are so many stories from that day of people who put others safety ahead of their own…i am in awe of that kind of selfless act. that is awesome that the fans honored him by wearing red bandana’s..i’m sure that was a sight to see!

  3. says

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this powerful story! What a hero! I was in fifth grade in 2011. Everyone knew something was going on because all the teachers were acting weird. When we got back into class after lunch my teacher told us our country had been attacked and while the principal told the teachers not to turn on the tvs because we were too young to see she said this was a part of history and something we would want to remember. I really appreciate that she did that, although the gravity of exactly what happened that day didn’t hit me until years later. In the last hour of my life I want to be in the arms of the man I love, surrounded by my family, surrounded by love.

  4. says

    I read about this before I knew he was a UCF grad and I think it is awesome that all the UCF fans paid tribute to his memory. I was only in sixth grade when it happened and I didn’t he know what the twin towers were but I will never forget watching the second plane hit while I was sitting in history class..

  5. says

    Wow that’s such a brave man…
    I remember being 18 years old, coming home from school (we are five hours ahead of you I think) and my sister was watching the news. By then, both airplanes had hit the towers and everything was just really confusing and sad. I had a physics test the next day that I couldn’t study for at all, I just watched the news all day.

  6. says

    Oh my… That’s such a touching story! Welles is a courageous soul who brims with kindness and love. I want to be a person who can help others too! Though I’m not American, I can really feel all your American spirit. Its so touching and it makes me admire you guys :-)

  7. R. says

    I stumbled across this post 2 years after it was written. Thank you for telling me about Welles. I had just turned 21 when 9/11 happened. I was in college. I was young and free spirited. I would live the next decade with some down moments, but for the most part a hell of a lot of true happiness credited from above. My heart breaks for those who didn’t experience what I did. I still have not gotten over 9/11, I’m an American. Maybe I never will…..

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