Frank DeMartini and Pablo Ortiz: Two of the heroes of 9-11

The word hero is used many different ways. Hero sandwich. Superhero. He’s my hero. We think of heroes as people who are celebrated but the truth is, most heroes’ names are never known.  Our heroes may be our parents, a sibling, a spouse, a child, a neighbor, people who have made a difference and inspire our better selves. I was reminded of my heroes by a recent post on a Harvard Business Review blog. Who’s on Your Fridge? discusses how its author posts photos of people who inspire him to be better, on his refrigerator, comprised of,

A collection of pictures of ordinary people, about whom I know very little, but who inspire me with some quality I want to nurture in myself.

That post caught my eye because it reminded me of a TLC program I saw this week, Heroes of the 88th Floor, “an extraordinary tale of bravery and survival inside the World Trade Center after Flight 11 struck the North Tower on September 11, 2001.” The two-hour special introduces  two men whose courage saved lives and touched many more. From The Discovery Channel’s online guide:

“Frank DeMartini and Pablo Ortiz — we hear the extraordinary story of how their remarkable acts of heroism, selflessness, and courage saved the lives of over 75 people and touched many more. We also hear from the survivors themselves, their first-hand accounts of what it was like to be at the centre of this tragic day — and through archived footage and dramatic recreations — we relive their chilling moments of being stranded on the upper floors of the North Tower and their race against time to survive.

If you get a chance to see it, don’t miss it.  There are many heroes whose names deserve to be more widely known.  Frank DeMartini and Pablo Ortiz are two such heroes.

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12 Responses to Frank DeMartini and Pablo Ortiz: Two of the heroes of 9-11

  1. I saw the same program and fully agree. THEY were true hero’s. Leaders of men.
    If you have a moment, here’s one more (also featured on the history channel):
    Rick Rescorla. The man who predicted 9/11.
    See his memorial website:
    Also Franks:
    Best, Lar
    Saratoga Springs, NY

  2. Domingo says:


  3. Brian Good says:

    I saw the program a few months ago on DVD and when I did, Mr. Ortiz’s story sounded familiar–climbing up stairs instead of going down, opening doors, letting people out, saving dozens of lives. Gosh, that’s Willie Rodriguez’s story!

    There are a few differences of course. Mr. Ortiz was in the upper part of the tower, and Willie was in the lower; Mr. Ortiz opened doors with crowbar and Willie used a key, Mr. Ortiz’s saved people who were trapped and Wilie just opened doors for people who were not locked in; Mr. Ortiz saved dozens, and death statistics show that survival rates on Willie’s floors were no higher than on any others in the tower; Mr. Ortiz has people he saved who are willing to say so on TV, while Willie doesn’t even though he claims he saved hundreds; Mr. Ortiz’s story is true and Willie’s is a lie; and Mr. Ortiz died when the tower fell on him while Willie travels around the world bragging on a phony story that he clearly stole from Mr. Ortiz.

    If Willie’s key was saving lives the way he claims, then there’s no way the firefighters would have let him take it with him when he left the building. The fact that he has it today only proves that it was useless.

    Willie’s obvious con-job made fools of credulous 9/11 truthers because he told them what they wanted to hear and because nobody could conceive of the idea that anyone could be so low as to lie about the day when so many heroes died. But his claim that people were trapped behind locked fire exit doors is a fraud obvious to any firefighter, cop, janitor, or security guard. The 9/11 Truth movement had a good relationship with C-Span up until August of 2007 when Willie got two hours on “American Perspectives”. He wasted it on bragging and lies, and C-Span never did 9/11 Truth again.

    Anyone who’s ever worked in a tall building knows it’s a long way (in minutes) to the ground even when the elevators are working. When they’re not working, 90 flights of stairs are likely to take half an hour to descend, and these guys knew it. But they stayed to help get people out–even though it wasn’t their job. Bless the heroes who stood tall that day.

  4. lisa says:

    just empty words, proof baby, proof, no proof shut up!!

  5. Sabina Weng says:


  6. Michael England says:

    Heart breaking account of two amazing humans.
    Overcoming terror and chaos to help sacrifice their lives for others.
    No words can really praise these heroes sufficiently.

    Michael England.


  7. le fantôme says:

    hello I live in France so my reply is French. je voulais remercier Frank et Pablo d’avoir fait tout leur possible pour sauver tant de gens. je voulais aussi montrer mes sincères condoléances à leur famille. Ils étaient de vrais héros. Bravo. Bonne continuation à toutes les personnes ayant perdu un ami où un membre de leur famille le 11 septembre 2001. Le Fantôme.
    Le Fantôme is my name on the internet. You can take Google Translation to translate my text.

  8. lucy dickinson says:

    i two think that the word hero gets passed around alot and yes some people see others as their hero but what pablo and frank did that day was beyond heroic and brave you dont get people like that often they were able to save 77 lives that day, i am british so i do not have the first hand experience of what it must of been like for the victims,survivours and their families but i can say that if i was rescued by these heroic (lets say angels) then i would be so honored to have 2 angels saving my life it is sad that had to be taken away but i guess heaven needed 2 heros and they chose the best 2 god could possibly have gained god bless pablo ortiz and frank demartini and their families you are always in my heart xxxxx

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