Tag Archives: World One

Mohawk Ironworkers in the aftermath of 9/11

Part 2 of the 9/11 story on APTN’s Mohawk Ironworkers continues tonight with the stories of three Mohawk men and their experiences following the collapse of the World Trade Center: John McGowan and Jaysen Mayo of Kahnawa:ke, and Brad Bonaparte of Akwesasne.

We first met John McGowen, a third generation ironworker, last week. John spent three and a half months at Ground Zero and since then has suffered from many maladies including asthma, sleep apnea, and acid reflux, all of which can be linked directly to his experiences there. Despite this, he continues to work and was one of several Mohawk ironworkers who built One World.

Jaysen Mayo was also a part of the rescue, recovery and cleanup at Ground Zero. To this day, he can recall the horrors he faced following the collapse.  As a result of his exposure to the various toxins during the cleanup, Jaysen suffers from decreased lung capacity and an auto-immune disease that requires monthly blood transfusions.

Brad Bonaparte of Akwesasne lost his life to cancer as a result of his exposure. His children share their memories of their father’s work at the WTC. The premature loss of Brad was also a significant loss to his community: Brad was a well-respected artist and storyteller, passionate about Mohawk teachings. Many of his steel creations mark the Akwesasne territory.

This episode goes on to reveal the abysmal lack of support workers initially received from the local, state, and federal governments in the U.S. First responders.  As well, ironworkers had no warnings regarding the toxic contaminants that were present at Ground Zero, nor were they supplied the proper protective gear that would have safeguarded them from harm.  It took two months for the U.S. government to implement a worksite safety plan for workers. This was too little and too late for an estimated 40,000 workers who had already been repeatedly exposed.

Having just marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11, this episode was rather touching. Here we met just a few of the heroes and their families, and we learned of some of their sacrifices in the infernal aftermath. A most appropriate tribute.

Mohawk Ironworkers airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. ET on APTN.


Mohawk Ironworkers recalls The World Trade Center and 9/11

As we are approaching the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 disaster, it is appropriate APTN’s Mohawk Ironworkers begins with stories of the World Trade Centre.

I have a number of friends from New York, and one who worked at  Ground Zero mere days after 9/11. When I mentioned this episode to him he said, “They [the Ironworkers] walked into the hazards side by side with firefighters and cops without hesitation. There were lives to save. A job to do.” He calls them heroes.

Peter J. Stacey, Randy J. Horn and Chris Beauvais  from Kahnawa:ke, and Bill Sears from Ahkwesahsne (who claims to be the infamous “Moon Over Manhattan”) are featured in the first segment of the debut. All were involved in the building of the original twin towers and recount their experiences during the construction, sharing a number of entertaining anecdotes. They also share grief following the destruction of the towers. For them, the loss was incredibly personal.

Chris Beauvais, who spent four long months on the cleanup and recovery, was one of the first on site following the collapse. He had been working nearby on another building at the time and explains, “All of the ironworkers went down there. That’s our job. It’s iron and we know how to play with it.”

In the third and final segment, we visit with Preston Horn, Kevin McComber and John McGowen, all from Kahnawa:ke. All three are currently working on the New World Trade Center and speak of their pride in the brotherhood of Mohawk ironworkers, and of being a part of the construction of World One.

The episode also gives a brief overview of the construction of the towers and describes the many innovative techniques that were unique to the construction of the original World Trade Center.

This was a good start to the series, demonstrating the long connection Mohawks have had with the skyline of New York City.  As we are approaching the eve of the anniversary, I would like to close simply with one other thought that my friend shared: “To those iron workers who waded into the horrors with all of us first responders … thank you.”

Mohawk Ironworkers airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. ET on APTN.