John Wholihan retired from the FDNY in 1996, but on Sept. 11, 2001, he knew he had to go back to work.
Wholihan, formerly of New Brighton, said he and his wife were waiting for the ferry when they saw the first plane hit, and went home.
“I told her I was going to have to go in, so I got on my bike and headed back down to the ferry,” he said.
Wholihan retired from Engine 155/Ladder 78 in New Brighton, and was working as the Petrides head basketball coach at the time of the terrorist attacks.
About 20 other emergency responders joined him on that ferry into Manhattan, and when they got off they knew they would have to stick together, Wholihan, who now lives in Naples, Fla., said.
He said they arrived in Manhattan as the second building was falling.
“There were about a thousand people at the ferry trying to get on,” Wholihan said. “But when they saw us they all opened up and started clapping. I think it gave us the confidence boost we needed.”