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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A 9/11 documentary captured haunting video of New York Fire Department Captain William Burke, known as Billy, inside the North Tower not long after the 9/11 attack.
“To be able to see him, to see that there really wasn’t fear in his eyes, it was determination. Billy’s sister Janet Roy from Pompano Beach is grateful for that snippet of video.
“I see his beautiful blue eyes. I can see there’s resolve, there’s determination, it just gives us a sense of relief, in a way,” she said.
Billy is one of the brave 9/11 heroes. With no concern for his own safety, he went in that day to save lives.
“When he was in the towers he called a friend of his, Cathy, he left a message, ‘This is Capt. Billy Burke, I’m on the 27th floor of the North Tower.’ He was kind of leaving a marker,” she said.
Billy was on the 27th floor after sending the rest of his team out of the building. He was trying to get a man in a wheelchair down the stairs. The South Tower had just collapsed and he knew it wouldn’t be long before the North Tower fell too.
“Billy said, ‘Get out! Get out! I’ll stay behind and work with them.’ The guys from 21 were like, ‘Come on Captain you gotta come with us.’ He said ‘Keep going, I’m right behind you.’”
He also made another call to a friend shortly before the building came down.
“He talked to her and he told her where he was. She was begging him to get out of the building, “Get out, Get out, Billy! Get out.’ He told her ‘This is who I am. This is what I do.’”
Shortly after, the North Tower fell.
Janet and her family held out hope the Billy had made it out — or was perhaps trapped, but alive.
“We were hoping but after 24 hours, 48 hours, Thursday, Friday, by then you’re hoping, we knew by then it was pretty clear it was a recovery, not a rescue,” Janet said. “Billy was never found. We don’t have his helmet. We don’t have anything from him.”
Despite the horror of losing her brother in a ruthless attack, Janet said 9/11 showed us that we all have a responsibility to one another.
“We’re here to serve and protect each other. You have to act in that manner. When you hear the survivors’ stories there was no what’s your race, what’s your religion, what’s your politics? They just did, they just helped each other,” she said.
She said it’s a lesson we can all draw on today.
“I think in today’s world where everything is political, that day, people’s views were we just need to help each other and survive and take care of each other.”
Janet and her family are in New York for the commemoration of 9/11. She’s not sure if she’ll go to ground zero. She said she’ll go to church and ceremonies at FDNY Station 21.
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