KENILWORTH, NJ - Nineteen years ago on this day the world changed forever. Nineteen Islamic terrorists hijacked four American airplanes on their way to their destinations. These planes were, American Airlines Flight 11, United Airline Flight 175, American Airline Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93. Shortly after the hijacking, flight 11 crashes into the north face of the north side of the World Trade Center. Thereafter, flight 175 deliberately crashes into the south face of the south tower at 9:02. A half-hour later flight 77 crashes into the Western side of the Pentagon. Lastly, flight 93 crash-landed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
These four incidents changed the country and the world as a whole. Flights were delayed and grounded across the nation and around the world. First responders including several who resided in Kenilworth or those who are now Kenilworth residents answered the call that day and raced to assist those injured or killed in the attacks. Kenilworth resident and former mayor Scott Klinder was one such first responder. He shared his experiences in a February 13, 2020, interview.
“I had been a state police officer for nine years at the time of 9/11. I was training guys in Warren State Forest in Basto. As I was pulling into the headquarters I heard a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I was in Kenilworth and quickly left to New York City. It took me almost three hours to get there. We could see smoke, and exit 14 was shut down. There was a paramedic following me because he must have been going to his station as well. By this time it was twelve o'clock and both towers were down as I got to Liberty State Park. I was there as the ambulances were coming in and the Kenilworth Fire Department had also sent an ambulance. From where I was standing you could see the F15's circling New York City. At the nearby railroad terminal, there was a triage center that had been set up. There, they were trying to treat the hundreds of people who had been injured.
When I got to Liberty State Park, my friend Juan who was a police officer with me was there. A New York City police boat pulled up to Liberty Park. We would work with the Harbor Trolley often so this wasn't new. The boat came in, and Juan and I got on and landed at ground zero around twelve-thirty.
As we landed, we put a mask on and this fireman comes walking out of the mist, all bloody. I asked him if he wanted to come with us, but he said no. We had this guy come up with his two greyhounds and a lady with her baby covered in ash. Some people were disorientated, others donating everything or coming up to look for their relatives. We got the civilians out of there, and we went back to Liberty. By the time we got back, our sergeant came over, and we set up beds. My friend Juan went back to ground zero while I helped set up cots since the hospitals were overwhelmed.
There were all sorts of misinterpretations and communication going on. People showed up volunteering, some people reuniting. I was there until two in the morning. The sad reality was some people survived and others died. There were probably three hundred ambulances there. It was pretty impressive. They made us decontaminate ourselves, shower, and then I went back home. The months after were upsetting as people would come to the park with photos of their relatives and eventually we started collecting their photos. That was my role in 9/11, nothing special, just doing my job.”
In the attack, Kenilworth lost three citizens, John J. Tobin, Robert M. Kaulfers, and John G. Ueltzhoffer. They are not forgotten and we will remember them. As we reflect upon 9/11 we should remember the heroes that live in our community. We should continue to be grateful and appreciative for our first responders, members of the Kenilworth Police and Fire Department who do all that they can to ensure we live in a safe community.