N. Texan Was in Tower One When First Plane Hit

Chuck Tumlinson got off the PATH train in WTC when first plane hit

By Kimberly King
|  Monday, Sep 12, 2011  |  Updated 10:26 AM CDT
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Chuck Tumlinson was at the base of tower one when the first plane hit on Sept. 11, and talks about that fateful day in his own words. Tumlinson moved back to Texas in 2003 and hasn't been back, but wants to see the memorial at ground zero soon.

NBC 5

Chuck Tumlinson was at the base of tower one when the first plane hit on Sept. 11, and talks about that fateful day in his own words. Tumlinson moved back to Texas in 2003 and hasn't been back, but wants to see the memorial at ground zero soon.

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Chuck Tumlinson of Fort Worth has mixed feelings on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

"This day is not exactly an easy day," he said. "It's a day I know I'll get through because I got through that day." 

Tumlinson was working in New York City at the time of the attacks. He was heading to a new job and was in the base of tower one when the first plane hit.

"All of a sudden you just felt this swagger. Some people were like 'what was that?' and it shook a little but then it stopped," he said.

Tumlinson's route into New York was always by taking the PATH train which stopped inside tower one in the basement. He had gotten a coffee and a bagel and walked outside.

"Everyone looked up and there was another plane coming and when that plane hit, you saw the shape of the plane in the building. And there were people who were just standing there," he said. "Then I realized this wasn't a movie."

Tumlinson then witnessed the towers falling.

"The flames started falling, debris started  falling. When that building came down it was just churning and you knew anybody left in the building, there's just no way." Tumlinson began to cry as he remembered his emotions that day.

"My mother was hysterical," he recalls. "She had just had surgery that morning and had bandages on her eyes and was in the hospital (in Texas). She started screaming 'my son is in New York he goes to that building every day.'"

Even ten years later he said he still feels guilt he survived while so many others died.

"It will be difficult for me to watch the memorials tomorrow but I plan to. It should always be remembered and the people who tried to help should be remembered, the people who died should be remembered," he said. "I want people in Texas to watch. It can happen on a day when you're just enjoying a coffee and a bagel and  you're just excited about your new job. It was a deliberate act and thousands of people died that day. And some of them I knew."  

Tumlinson moved back to Texas in 2003 but he still considers New York City his home.

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