“I am Peter Bielfeld...tell my family I love them”

By TED WADDELL
Posted 9/8/21

NARROWSBURG, NY — At 9:59 a.m. on September 11, 2001, Ernest “Ernie” and Hilde Bielfeld’s world changed forever.

On that fateful day, now being observed as the 20th …

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“I am Peter Bielfeld...tell my family I love them”

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NARROWSBURG, NY — At 9:59 a.m. on September 11, 2001, Ernest “Ernie” and Hilde Bielfeld’s world changed forever.

On that fateful day, now being observed as the 20th anniversary of 9/11, their son Peter Bielfeld (April 21, 1957 to September 11, 2001), a career firefighter with FDNY Ladder 42 in the Bronx, came off sick leave and rushed into the flames of hell after terrorists crashed hijacked aircraft into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Just two days before the homeland was attacked, Bielfeld injured his shoulder battling a fire in a five-story building in the Bronx—a neighborhood he helped protect for 19 years—and as a result, was officially on sick leave.

In an instant, the world as he (and hundreds of other FDNY firemen) knew it stopped. The firefighters rushed into action to save others.

“When Peter and two other gentlemen heard that a plane hit, they jumped into a car,” said Ernie Bielfeld. They sped to Ladder 10, which was next to the Twin Towers.

His companions raced upstairs to gather equipment, while Peter remained to don borrowed turnout gear from a locker.

But before heading into a hell of flames, twisted steel and falling bodies, he left a handwritten note behind, a hastily penned message that would, in essence, serve as a last will and testament to those who would be left behind.

The note, most likely a somber recognition that he wasn’t coming back to this earth, read in part, “I am Peter Bielfeld, Ladder 42. Please hold my stuff. Tell my family I love them.”

“Peter walked out of there and was never seen again, and if those two guys had gone with Peter, they would have been dead” said his father, adding that on 9/11 a total of 343 firefighters perished.

Ernie Bielfeld wears his heart on his sleeve, in more ways than one, as for several years now, a large sign on the front lawn on his house, which faces Route 97 just outside of town, proclaims to passersby, “Never forget the three hundred and forty three who were murdered in the rescue of over 25,000 people September 11, 2001. Our son. Our hero. Fire Fighter Peter A. Bielfeld. April 21st, 1957. September 11th, 2001.”

Next to the poignant statement is a hand-carved wooden statue of an FDNY firefighter in full turnout gear, proudly resting on a red-painted Pulaski axe, while the white-shingled house is decorated with an American flag, patriotic bunting and a Trump 2020 banner.

A similar sentiment appears on Ernie’s metallic maroon Ford Explorer. “Never forget the 343 firefighters who perished,” including their 44- year-old son Peter A. Bielfeld of Ladder 42, Truck 73.

For Peter, his career as an FDNY firefighter could be traced to the time he was a five-year-old living in the Bronx, and a trip to the dentist resulted in the extraction of a couple of teeth.

As a reward, Ernie and Hilde took him into a store, and Ernie recalls saying to his son, “Pick anything you like.”

So Peter selected a bright red fire truck, a memory that was instilled in his father these many years later as, “That was the beginning.”

As the years passed after the collapse of the Twin Towers, the remains of the fallen were identified and sent to survivors, including Ernie and Hilde Bielfeld.

Today, several small wooden boxes containing fragments of their beloved son and hero firefighter rest in peace next to a wooden memorial of the World Trade Center.

Hilde passed away from COVID-19 on January 1, and Ernie, now 87, is left alone with his memories, often watching a video that was made on the life of his “murdered” son, a term he uses unflinchingly about the fate of the 343 firefighters.

In one segment of the video, a group of elementary school kids, including his granddaughter Ashley, then six years old, join voices to perform “You Are Our Heroes.”

“I always cry when I watch it,” said Bielfeld, just managing to choke back a few tears.

Asked his opinion on what should be the fate of those responsible for the attacks on American soil 20 years ago, Ernie Bielfeld, a veteran of the U.S. Army, had this to say.

“Kill ‘em,” he replied, without a second’s hesitation.

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