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of those who fell on September 11, 2001
Police Officer George Howard
Assignment on September 11, 2001:
Emergency Service Unit, John F. Kennedy International
Police Heroes, a book by author
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.”