Remembering the ‘Man in the Red Bandana’

A red bandana that belonged to Welles Crowther is displayed on a white surface at the Museum.
Bandana that belonged to Welles Crowther, gift of the Alison and Jefferson Crowther Family. Photo by Matt Flynn.

On Sept.11, New Yorkers demonstrated extraordinary courage and risked their lives to save others. One of these heroes was the man in the red bandana, Welles Crowther.  

When hijacked Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center’s South Tower, people on the 78th floor sky lobby huddled together, frightened and confused. There was no escape as far as they could tell. Then, a man with a red bandana covering his nose and mouth suddenly appeared from the wreckage and smoke. He spoke in a calm voice and guided them to a stairway, leading them to safety. The man in the red bandana made three trips to the sky lobby, saving as many people as he could, until the burning building collapsed.Welles Crowther. Gift of Alison and Jefferson Crowther and family.

A few months after 9/11, stories from survivors surfaced about the mysterious man wearing the red bandana. When Alison Crowther read an article about the hero in the New York Times, she knew that man was her son, 24-year-old Welles Crowther. He had carried a red handkerchief since he was a boy. Welles Crowther worked as an equities trader and was also a volunteer firefighter.

Welles Crowther’s bravery and heroism on 9/11 will never be forgotten. As survivor Judy Wein, who was rescued by Crowther notes, “People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal to do what he did.”

Welles Crowther’s red bandana is currently on display in the Museum. A special Stories & Art program tied to his heroic story will take place on Saturday, Sept.5, 2015 at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Honor Crowther Fagan, sister of Welles Crowther, will read her book inspired by her brother’s courageous story, “The Man in the Red Bandana”. The program is free to Museum visitors with children. Children will have the opportunity to participate in an art activity after the reading and will receive a free copy of the book. Reservations are recommended, but not required.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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