Lt. Col. Tom Armas 5/16/13
Lt. Col. Tom Armas has had a long and distinguished career serving both in the United States Marine Corps from 1999 to 2007 and as a special agent for the Secret Service. Part of his military involvement included active duty in Iraq in 2004. One of his most harrowing experiences occurred during the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.
He was preparing a briefing for the UN at his office at 7 WTC when the first plane struck the North tower. He immediately evacuated his office and went into the North Tower to help rescue as many people as he could. During that time he learned that there was an invalid in a wheelchair in an upper floor who needed to be brought down. He raced up the stairs to what turned out to be the 30th floor where he attempted to get the person out. At that time he didn’t know that another plane had hit the South Tower. His wife called and told him to get out ASAP.
He rescued 30 people and brought them down 30 flights of stairs to the lobby just as the South Tower collapsed resulting in a tidal wave of debris and bodies crashing into the lobby where he was located. At that point he was in total darkness and people all around him were moaning and screaming in pain. Somehow he obtained a flashlight and started to lead the 30 people he rescued out of the building. As he was doing that the building began to shake and finally collapsed. There was fire and ash everywhere and he was eventually taken to a hospital in New Jersey to treat his wounds, particularly a damaged eye.
When he recovered he went back to the scene of the carnage and spent the next 3 months helping to recover as many bodies as he could. At this point he was anxious to get back into active service so that he could go after the terrorists that perpetrated the WTC disaster. He manipulated his way back into the Marine Corps against the wishes of the Secret Service and was sent to Iraq, working with FBI and CIA agents apprehending terrorists and rescuing hostages.
After Iraq he went back into the Secret Service and retired there to become head of security for New York Life Corp. Currently he is the head of Logistics for the Inspector General.
During Q&A the following points were made:
- We are very much involved in Western Africa trying to bring stability and aid to that region.
- There have been an increasing number of suicides by military personnel and the military is taking it very seriously offering all kinds of outreach programs to help.
- According to Col. Armas, America is responsible for the safety and well being of the free world. No other country can afford to do so.
- Intelligence gathering today is much better then it was on 9/11.
Thank you Brian for another outstanding speaker.