From Shanksville’s scorched woods, two arborists emerged as unsung heroes of 9/11 – Reuters

SHANKSVILLE, Pa., Sept 8 (Reuters) – The hemlock grove the place United Airways Flight 93 hurtled to The underside in rural Pennsylvania nonetheless haunts Mark Trautman and Ben Haupt 20 years later.

Earlier than the al Qaeda assaults on Sept. 11, 2001, the native arborists climmattress timber solely to take down departmentes. When the hijacked airliner slammed into soil in a fiery explosion, turning the woods shut to Shanksville Proper into a ugly crime scene suspended above The underside, The two males Can be referred to as in for a process that relabored their stays.

For shut toly Every week, they clambered by way of the blackened cover garlanded with wreckage and gore. They plucked down very important proof for the prosecution of al Qaeda plotters And located stays for grieving households with no our bodies to bury.

Arborist Ben Haupt poses for a portrait in his tree climbing gear at his house in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

They have been Amongst The numerous most extraordinary but overseemed early responders to the assaults, By which shut toly 3,000 people have been killed, collectively with all 33 passengers, seven crew members And 4 hijackers aboard Flight 93.

“It was An important factor I ever did in my life,” Trautman said in a current interview.

Arborist Mark Trautman poses for a portrait in his tree climbing gear outdoors his house in Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

The two arborists emerged from the hemlocks as modified males, one left unmoored, The completely different with a renewed objective.


A state trooper, Greg Sullenberger, was Amongst The numerous first responders to enterprise into the smoldering woods after the crash.

Greg Sullenberger, who labored as a state trooper when the hijacked United Airways Flight 93 crashed shut to Shanksville, poses for a portrait in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

Sharp metallic plane sexhaustings as huge as kitchen tables had sliced into bark. Sullenberger said he heard a cracking sound above. As he stepped to The biggest, a department plummeted to his left.

Apprehensive about investigators’ safety, he Thought-about Trautman, whom he had acknowledged since they have been Boy Scouts. His babyhood good friend labored at Penn State College, tending to the grand elms shading its campus. An FBI agent informed Sullenberger to name Trautman in for assist.

Leaving his spouse and two youthful daughters at house, Trautman and Haupt, his campus colleague, loaded up their harnesses and chainnoticeds and drove down. The FBI issued them yellow ID playing cards that said: “Disaster Website, September 11, 2001 — FBI/Penn State.”

Arborist Mark Trautman holds his dangerousge from when he was on site all by way of 9-11, at his house in Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

The arborists roped from treetop to treetop, recuperateing wallets, a hijacker’s ID and physique parts to be recognized at A quick stayd morgue.

John Larsen, the FBI particular agent In cost of scouring the woods, said the Shanksville scene was distinguished from the pulverized crash websites in Manhattan and On the Pentagon by the sheer quantity of intact proof yielded. He names the arborists unsung heroes.

The boulder which marks The general location of the influence site the place the hijacked United Airways Flight 93 plane crashed is pictured On The backside of the hemlock grove On the Flight 93 Nationwide Memorial shut to Shanksville, in Stoysmetropolis, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

“None of us might do what these guys have been doing, and with out them We’d have been lifeless Inside the water,” Larsen said.

Haupt, who wSince then 24, remembers turning to Larsen Inside the woods, overwhelmed after discovering what Appeared to be baby footwear from somephysique’s baggage.

“I Take A look at this place, And that i said, ‘I do know That might not hell,'” Haupt rereferred to as. “‘However when That might not, then how dangerous is hell?’ And I simply broke down. Mr. Larsen simply broke down furtherly and cried right with me On the market, as a Outcome of it was exhausting.”

Deep into the hemlocks, the agent and the arborist hugged, consoling Every completely different.


Haupt turned a Christian evangelist quickly after and evokes the Shanksville woods in his sermons as a imaginative and prescient of hell.

“I noticed All of the wickedness of man,” he said.

(L-R) Arborists Mark Trautman and Ben Haupt, who labored to recuperate the particles from the hijacked United Airways Flight 93 shut to Shanksville, pose for a portrait in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 2, 2021. Picture taken September 2, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah Beier – RC2ZHP94NOUD

Arborist and preacher Ben Haupt at Grace Baptist Church in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

He now stays in a house surrounded by towering lindens, walnut timber and white oaks Together with his spouse, Jennifer, whom he met in Bible school, and their 5 youthfulsters, who hunt deer and climb timber with their father. Preaching has taken him So far Since the Caribbean and the Philippines, but he can see The house he grew up in from his porch, the place his mom and father nonetheless stay.

Arborist Ben Haupt poses for A photograph Together with his household at his house in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. (L-R) Ben Haupt Jr., 12, Jeremiah Haupt, 8, Jennifer Haupt, 38, June Haupt, 16, JoyAnna Haupt 10, Janelle Haupt, 14. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

He continues to work as an arborist, and typinamey refers consumers to Trautman, who he says is Aware of more about timber than anyone else in Pennsylvania.

Trautman, 54, grew up in a house surrounded by corn and dairy farms outdoors Herminie, a small metropolis about 45 miles (72 km) west of the place Flight 93 would crash after passengers and crew fought again as quickly as morest the hijackers.

His mcompletely different roused him from mattress each morning with The identical chorus: “Rise and shine, your nation wants you!”

Years later, the placeas mired Inside the horrors of the hemlock cover, he might hear his mcompletely different’s phrases looping in his head.

Arborist Mark Trautman touches a tree he planted at The Pennsylvania State College the place he labored all by way of 9-11 in State College, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

Like her son, Margaret Trautman stays Joyful with his work On the crash site. However Since the years handed after Sept. 11, it turned more sturdy To ignore its toll.

“It is affected him,” she said. “He has problem with relationships.”

Mark Trautman enrolled Inside the federal World Commerce Center Well being Program and was recognized with submit-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD). He is finalizing his third divorce, takes a Daily antidepressant and sees a counselor twice a month.

Arborist Mark Trautman at his house in Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

He wears a baseball cap that shades his blue eyes, bashful about his thinning crown, and stays alone by a mountain ridge shut to Spruce Creek in a house Made from hemlock timber. The hulking machines he makes use of for work fill An elemalest of his backyard.

“I am very fortunate to nonetheless be astay,” he said. “I had a life before 9-11 and after 9-11. I am a tree canine. I used to be a retriever for the FBI. At the time it Did not bcompletely different me, but, as I Get older, it bcompletely differents me.”


Earlier this month, Trautman and Haupt reunited To go to the Flight 93 Nationwide Memorial. The two pals had not met In further than a decade.

(L-R) Arborists Ben Haupt and Mark Trautman look out On the hemlock grove in Stoysmetropolis, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

As they wound their method Proper down to the hemlocks, Haupt descrimattress to his teenage daughters how completely different everyfactor seemed. Trautman quizzed Haupt’s information of the Latin names of timber alongside The biggest method.

Each males rereferred to as An imposing beech tree Inside The middle of the grove, an unforgettable glimpse of life’s magnificence Inside the infernal woods. Trautman hopes to see the beech as quickly as more, However the grove is off-limits, held as sacred floor for victims’ households.

(L-R) Arborists Mark Trautman and Ben Haupt pose for a portrait in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

“It odored so dangerous,” Haupt said, Eager to the rock shut to the tree line, marking the influence site.

“Properly, it was dangerous,” Trautman replied.

The odor caught to his boots Tons that he later burned them.

The lads had reached as shut as They might get to the grove that modified them. It was Barely greener now, but simply as silent as before.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Additional reporting by Hannah Beier
Modifying by Colleen Jenkins and Lisa Shumaker

Our Requiremalests: The Thomson Reuters Notion Guidelines.