Valley man remembers brother lost in 9/11 attacks

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PHOENIX, Ariz. - Ten years after both his brother and best friend were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, Michael McAvoy says he is still grieving.

"Soon as August rolls around I know September is coming and I just start to feel different, I start to think of that day more and more, I have dreams about them," McAvoy said.

On Sept. 11, 2001, McAvoy was working on Wall Street, blocks from the twin towers.

"People in my office literally screamed as loud as you can scream, because they were witnessing the second plane hitting. I looked at my watch and it was 9:05, and I realized my brother could be working," he recalled.

His brother, John McAvoy, a firefighter at ladder company 3 in lower Manhattan, had just gotten off an overnight shift when a plane struck the first tower. He grabbed his gear and raced to Ground Zero to help.

"He was found six months after 9/11, at Ground Zero," McAvoy said. "The bunker gear he was wearing, as they call it, kind of kept him whole."

McAvoy's best friend, James "Jimmy" Ladley, 41, was working on the 104th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center.

McAvoy says watching the images of the towers collapse is especially difficult.

"My brother was in the first one that came down and my buddy was in the second one, so it's really really hard, because that's when they perished," McAvoy said.

McAvoy, a financial planner, moved to Arizona with his wife and daughter several years ago, and since then has made it his mission to talk about what he experienced on 9/11.

"It's hard, but I wear it as a badge of honor, because I'm keeping my brother and best friend alive, I'm keeping people focused on what happened to us that day," he said.

He was invited to attend the 10-year anniversary memorial service at Ground Zero in New York, but opted to stay in the Valley to commemorate the day.

McAvoy will speak at the 9/11 Patriots Day Celebration on Saturday at Paseo Highlands Park.