While I was researching another subject, the background of an unassuming Brinks armoured truck guard piqued my attention. Francis J Trombino- known by many as simply 'Joe'- was a Korean war vet and truck driver who had been with Brinks since the late 1960s and lived most of his life in Clifton, NJ. He was killed on the morning of September 11th, 2001 when two World Trade Center towers collapsed.
But that sunny September morning was not the first time Trombino had crossed paths with terrorists. In 1993, his armoured truck had left the WTC complex a few hours before Islamic terrorist Ramzi Yousef drove an explosives-laden rental van into the underground parking garage and set the fuse.
However, before either of the Islamist attacks on the World Trade Center site, Trombino survived a deadly ambush and robbery from Weather Underground and black sepratist gunmen nearly 20 years before the 9/11 attacks.
As Trombino and fellow guard Peter Paige were picking up money from Nanuet Mall in Rockland County, NY, in October 1981 when masked gunmen burst from a nearby van and opened fire with shotguns and an M-16 rifle, killing Paige instantly. Trombino was able to get off a round before being struck in the shoulder, arm and upper body multiple times.
After swapping vehicles, the domestic terrorists would then try and shoot their way through a roadblock set up by police in West Nyack, NY, killing two police officers and wounding another before trying to flee on foot or carjack motorists.
Trombino's injuries would require multiple surgeries- he nearly lost his arm in the gunfight. Brinks reassigned him as a driver where he would continue to work for another 19 years. According to family, Joe hardly complained about the surgeries and therapy, telling them that 'These things are a part of life'.
Joe Trombno was about a year away from retirement on the morning of September 11th. According to co-workers, he stayed in the underground garage with his truck when the planes hit, calling the Brinks dispatcher and inquiring about the whereabouts of the gurads who had gone into the WTC buildings to make a pickup (they had managed to escape but had no means of communication). Trombino told the Brinks office in his last phone call that water was starting to seep in and the walls were starting to crumble around him.
Francis J Trombino left behind a wife of 42 years, two daughters and three grandchildren.