9/11 Hero who Worked 40 Days Straight on Ground Zero, Kills Himself

December 14, 2017 Updated: December 14, 2017    

A 9/11 first responder, who commanded officers at Ground Zero and sifted through the rubble for 40 consecutive days, has taken his own life after a long and painful battle with lung disease.

Captain Douglas Greenwood, a former NYPD officer, worked with fellow officers to locate bodies and body parts in Ground Zero’s infamous pile where he was the captain for the Manhattan South Task Force, reported the New York Post.

 Greenwood was constantly giving commands to the officers over the 40 days and was unable to keep his protective mask on. As a result, the retired captain developed lung disease which tormented him for more than a decade.

The disease eventually rendered him unable to continue working for the NYPD. He decided to retire on a 9/11 disability 14 years ago, after 26 years of service. After leaving the NYPD, he became the owner of the highly regarded Greenwich Village Bleecker Street Pizza restaurant, reported the newspaper.

Bleecker Street Pizza (Screenshot via Google Maps)

The 61-year-old struggled with the disease despite having surgery and slept with an oxygen tank for the last 10 years because it was too painful to breathe.

A longtime friend, NYC photographer Kevin McCormick told the Post that Greenwood was proud of his pizzeria. He would sometimes sit and eat in the dining area, pretending to be a customer so he could hear what people said about his pizza.

“Sometimes he’d ask them, ‘How do you like the pizza?’ and they’d rave about it,” McCormick recalled. “And then he’d say, ‘Well, I’m actually the owner!’”

His friend remembered Greenwood as a “smart, funny” man with “not a bad bone in his body.”

Another of Greenwood’s friends, former detective Ralph Friedman, recalled the heroic work his friend did at Ground Zero.

“He was in charge of all the NYPD boots on the ground,” Friedman told the New York Post. “He’d be commanding the scene, but he also did grunt work—everybody pitched in. Everyone was sifting through the scene for bodies, body parts.”

 “He could have stayed in a car. But he was right there. And it cost him his health—as it did for a lot of officers,” he added. “They did very heroic work—there’s no way around it. And he was right there.”

The 61-year-old shot himself to death at a park near his Suffolk County home. Greenwood was not married and did not have any children, reported the New York Post.

“He would never do something like this unless he had no choice. And he had no choice,” Friedman said, reported the Post.

For crisis or suicide prevention support, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

 

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From NTD.tv