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06-09-2004, 09:34 PM
Last Man Saved From WTC Wreckage Retires

Wed Jun 9, 7:08 PM ET Add Top Stories - AP to My Yahoo!

By LARRY McSHANE, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - Trapped deep beneath the rubble of 1 World Trade Center, his legs crushed from hip to foot on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Lt. John McLoughlin accepted what seemed inevitable. "I assumed I was going to die where I was buried," McLoughlin said Wednesday, 33 months after the terrorist attack, at a party celebrating his retirement from the Port Authority police.

AP Photo

Slideshow: September 11

Rescuers pulled McLoughlin from the wreckage about 22 hours after the twin towers collapsed, making him the last person rescued from the site where 2,749 others perished.

McLoughlin presided Wednesday over roll call on the 3-11 p.m. shift at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, where he was working when the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center.

In a ceremony punctuated by tears and cheers, McLoughlin leaning on a cane for support after undergoing 30 operations on his legs bid an emotional goodbye to his co-workers.

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers," he told them, quoting Shakespeare.

Dozens of police and brass saluted him sharply, then offered hugs, handshakes and words of encouragement as a bagpiper played "Auld Lang Syne."

The exertion sent rivulets of sweat pouring down McLoughlin's face, but he persevered until every co-worker was greeted.

His wife, Donna, and their four children watched proudly, as did a collection of rescue workers, doctors and therapists who helped McLoughlin literally get back on his feet.

The lieutenant recalled Pat McGee, of the New York Police Department's Emergency Service Unit, offering words of encouragement through the debris: "How you doing down there? We're going to get you out."

He grew weepy when recounting the work of his physical therapists.

His colleagues did the same watching McLoughlin.

"There is no greater gift than to see you walk into this roll call today," said PA Chief of Department Christopher Trucillo.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police lost 37 members on Sept. 11, and McLoughlin remembered their efforts.

"I made a lot of friends in 24 years," said McLoughlin, 51. "Remembering those we lost makes it tough."

On Sept. 11, McLoughlin boarded a bus at the midtown Manhattan terminal and headed to ground zero to help with the emergency.

He was with fellow PA police Officer Will Jimeno in one of the tower's underground levels when the building collapsed nearly straight down. The pair were buried about 60 feet below street level.

Jimeno, 36, remains on injury leave but turned out to honor the man he credits with saving his life.

"Even though he was in a lot of pain, he coached me to survive," said Jimeno. "It was something to see John take the leadership role and show such courage."