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GNB Voc-Tech National Honor Society and Mentorship Program hosted an assembly, The Man in the Red Bandana, for the students of these two  organizations.  The assembly and its message left an impact on the students about courage, leadership, and the importance of maintaining a legacy.  Senior Ashley Almeida recounts what she learned during this in-school presentation.

“What would you do in the last hour of your life?”

Matthew Weiss

Writer/ Director

Video courtesy by ESPN

Welles Crowther was a young American equity trader and volunteer firefighter from New York, New York who saved around 18 people from the South Tower on September 11, 2001.

From a young age, Welles was extremely protective of his family and caring of others. After learning the difference between a handkerchief that was meant to be decorative and a bandana that should be used, Welles carried a red bandana around with him everywhere he went.

The red bandana soon become a symbol for Welles and what he stood for. Welles wore his red bandana in his ice hockey and lacrosse games as well as the plethora of other activities he took part in.

When he was 16, Welles joined the Empire Hook & Ladder Co., No. 1 and became a junior member. He later became a full member of the company when he turned 18. Following high school, Welles attended Boston College and graduated in 1999 with a degree in Economics. After he graduated, Welles started working at the investment banking firm of Sandler O’Neill & Partners, located on the 104th floor of the second World Trade Center, in research then changed to an equities trader.

When the plane struck the South Tower, Welles traded in his suit and tie for his red bandana and dedicated the last hour of his life to helping others escape. He used the training he learned as a volunteer fire fighter to help guide people who were on the 78th floor to the 61st floor where they were able to then exit the World Trade Center. Instead of leaving the tower, Welles went back up to the 78th floor and help another group of people down. The whole time, Welles wore his red bandana as a cover for his face to protect himself from the smoke.  After he helped the second group down, Welles ended up reaching the lobby of the World Trade Center where he gathered with members of the New York Fire Department. The tower ended up collapsing on Welles and the NYFD members before they were able to help others, it was later revealed that Welles and the NYFD were planning on going back up the tower with a “jaws of life” tool to help those who were unable to escape.

After the attack, Welles’ mother didn’t know what actually happened to Welles that day until she read accounts of a mysterious man wearing a red bandana taking charge and leading people to safety. Mrs. Crowther knew that the mysterious man was her son because of the authoritative personality and training described, the location, and the famous red bandana. She sent pictures of Welles to the survivors who were saved by the mysterious man in the red bandana and they confirmed that it was indeed him. Welles sacrificed his life to save as many as 18 people and he would have gone to save even more because that is the kind of person Welles was and the red bandana represents that. The red bandana is a symbol of Welles’ leadership, compassion for others, courage, and his overall being.