9/11 Stories: FDNY Wife Jess Daly

On 9/11, 27 year old Jess Daly was living with her now-FDNY husband, Mike, who was 34 . He had just left work and was on his way to Brooklyn to help out a friend. Jess was on the bus, heading to work in the garment center of Manhattan.

Outside the Lincoln Tunnel, passengers were shocked by the sight of black smoke pouring out of the iconic World Trade Center. No one knew what had happened. By the time she got to work, the second tower had been hit. Mike called, telling Jess all the firefighters were being called in to work. Jess remembers begging him not to go. Mike’s response: “If I was down there, you’d want someone coming for me."

The day was excruciating for Jess. Nothing from Mike until 11:00 that night, and hearing reports of missing FDNY’ers…50, 70, 100, she felt helpless. Although she finally learned Mike was safe, Jess didn’t see him until Friday. He was a zombie. He didn’t speak. Mike returned to Ground Zero to help in the rescue and recovery until they kicked him out.

In 2013, he was diagnosed with a stage-4, 9/11cancer. He is now cancer-free but required two jaw replacement surgeries, leaving him without the ability to eat. For the last year, Mike Daly has been on a feeding tube. He tells Jess every day, he’d do it all over again. He has no regrets.

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