Back to photographs of those who fell on September 11, 2001

Police Officer George Howard
Assignment on September 11, 2001:
Emergency Service Unit, John F. Kennedy International Airport, NYC

George HowardFrom Police Heroes, a book by author Chuck Whitlock:

September 11 was Officer George Howard’s day off, and he was at home instead of at John F. Kennedy International Airport where he worked for the ESU of the Port Authority. When he first learned about the attack, he called JFK Airport and was told to report to the World Trade Center. He and a colleague went into the city to lend a hand. His partner, Pete Johnson, was caught in traffic and never made it there.

It probably seemed all too familiar to Howard, who had rushed in to help after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He had also been off duty that day. Johnson recalls that not long after that incident, Howard thought someone could ram a plane into the building and contacted the engineers, who told him the buildings could withstand a hit.

Howard was forty-four years old and a sixteen-year veteran of the Port Authority Police Department. He was also a volunteer captain in the Hicksville, New York, Fire Department and an instructor in the Nassau County Fire Academy. He had two sons, Christopher and Robert.

Just days after the disaster, his mother, Arlene Howard, gave her son’s badge to President George W. Bush during his meeting with relatives of the missing firefighters and police officers. Later the President held up the badge during a national address as a symbol of lives lost.

Portraits of Grief, The New York Times

Going to Work on a Day Off

Sept. 11 was the second time that George Howard, a Port Authority police officer, was enjoying a day off when he heard that there was trouble at the World Trade Center. It was also the second time that he raced to work, voluntarily, into the midst of the chaos. The last time was 1993, when the trade center was bombed. “He always did that,” said his mother, Arlene Howard. “He heard about it and called up and said, ‘I’m on my way.’”

Officer Howard, who was 44 and lived in Hicksville, N.Y., worked in the Port Authority’s emergency services unit, an elite group he helped found. To him, Mrs. Howard recalled, the unit combined the best of police and rescue work.

In his spare time he volunteered for the local fire department and he trained other police and fire departments in safety and rescue work. And he loved coaching children, including his own two sons, Christopher and Robert.

When President Bush visited ground zero just after the attacks, Mrs. Howard was asked if she would like to present him with her son’s silver shield. When the president mentioned the shield in a subsequent speech, and said he could carry Officer Howard’s memory forever, Mrs. Howard said, “That made me very proud.”