September 20, 2017

Man in Red Bandana: Masked 9/11 Hero Is Memorialized in Inspirational Biopic

By Kam Williams

Sometimes, substance trumps low-production values, such as in the movie Man in Red Bandana. Minutes after the World Trade Center was hit by United Airlines Flight 175 on the morning of 9/11, Welles Crowther called his mother to let her know he was okay. The 24-year-old stockbroker knew she’d be worried, because his office was located on the 104th floor of the South Tower. 

Welles was also a volunteer firefighter who was seriously considering abandoning his promising Wall Street career to start over with the New York City Fire Department. In fact, he’d recently told his father that having a meaningful job was more important to him than making lots of money.

So, it wasn’t a surprise to Welles’s family that, instead of leaving the burning building, he chose to remain inside, calmly leading injured and dazed people to safety. When he realized that the only avenue of escape available to those trapped above the floor that the plane had hit was an unstable staircase, he made his way up and down that staircase several times to assist trapped victims.

However, because he had covered his face with a red bandana while helping these people, none of those he saved ever knew whom to thank. Nevertheless, a number of articles published by the New York Times, and other newspapers, featured survivors’ accounts describing a masked young man who had saved their lives.

Sadly, Welles perished in the collapse of the tower, but not before rescuing at least a dozen people. It was easy for his family and anybody else that knew him to identify Welles as the unidentified Good Samaritan. That’s because a red bandana had been his trademark ever since his father had given him one when he was 7 years old.

Welles wore the bandana throughout his childhood, while on the lacrosse field while playing for Boston College, and he even wore it in the pocket of his suit jacket in his job as an up-and-coming equities trader. And then, during the last and finest hours of his life, he used it to filter smoke from the acrid air surrounding him as he was helping save people.

The movie is an overdue tribute to a selfless hero who put into action his heartfelt belief that we are all here to care for one another. A must see documentary guaranteed to leave you in tears.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for mature themes and disaster images. Running time: 85 minutes. Production Studio: Verdi Productions/RDZ Productions. Distributor: Verdi Entertainment/Magna Entertainment/Falco Ink.