9/11 Stories: Chris Letizia

On September 11th, then NYPD’er Chris Letizia was a Bronx cop working the night shift. Around 9:00 AM the NYPD put out a call for a full mobilization, that we were under attack, and all cops were ordered to report to work. We were under a terror attack. Letizia and his co-workers were frustrated. They wanted to be at Ground Zero, but instead, they were assigned to a high school football field in The Bronx, where the military planned to land helicopters, and then, Jacobi Hospital Morgue. When their shift finally ended at around 2 AM, Chris and his buddies drove down to Ground Zero. Letizia says it was like a Hollywood movie set. It almost looked fake to him with piles of dust and debris with smashed police cars and fire trucks. Other vehicles were so damaged, you couldn’t tell the make and model. For a week, when his night shift on the NYPD ended, Letizia would head down to volunteer on the bucket brigade. He says it was the right thing to do. His cop and firefighter brothers were part of that debris, among close to 3-thousand victims, mostly cremated and pulverized. Most nights, Chris was joined by a good friend and rookie cop, Patrick McGovern, who later became his partner, working counter-terrorism for the NYPD. Letizia says Pat was such a great guy, when he’d stop for his nightly pre-shift Baskin Robins chocolate ice cream cone, he’d order two, giving one to a homeless person. Pat McGovern was diagnosed with a 9/11 stomach/colon cancer when he was just 38. He died two years ago at the age of 43. The NYPD lost 23 cops on 9/11. The department has since lost more than ten times that number..and growing.