Local business owner remembers working as a New York City police officer on 9/11

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 8:01 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY Beach, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Paparazzi Gourmet Deli on Thomas Drive is a hot spot for Panama City Beach locals. Owner John Trubia puts a lot of love into what he cooks up. But this wasn’t always what he did and that isn’t where he was on September 11, 2001.

“It was not what I was doing 20 years ago. No. I’m a retired NYPD. I worked for the city of New York for 19 years,” Trubia said.

Trubia spent most of his time as a New York City police officer working harbor patrol. He was on duty when the twin towers were attacked. He said he’ll never forget what he saw that day.

“We get a call that a plane has struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. We turn the boat around, get just around battery park and look up and see the second plane go into tower two,” Trubia said. “We see that people are basically jumping for their lives right now out of tower one, knowing that tower one is about to come down soon.”

At that moment, he knew his job was to get survivors onto boats and off Manhattan Island.

“At that point, it was basically an evacuation. We had people throwing their children at us. And just to get them off the island,” Trubia said.

Back home, Trubia’s wife and kids had no idea if he was okay. He said they had tried to get in touch with him throughout the day but couldn’t get through.

He spent the next three days working the scene, not yet understanding the magnitude of what happened.

“This was territory that we never experienced before. Uncharted territory. We were just winging it. This a was war zone,” Trubia said.

After 20 years, he said he still thinks about that Tuesday. A day that started like any other, but ended with him witnessing a tragic day in history.

Like many others, Trubia continues to move forward but never forgetting the nearly 3,000 individuals who lost their lives on 9/11. He retired from the New York City Police Department in 2006 and moved to Panama City Beach the next year. While he now enjoys serving up New York-style pizza at his local restaurant, his love for law enforcement lives on. One of his sons is now serving as a police officer in Texas.

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