Mike Buglione: Local Navy Veteran and Former NYPD Officer Recounts His 9/11 Experience

3 min read Mike Buglione was in Manhattan on 9/11. He watched as the towers fell and knew terrorists were to blame. His story is a powerful one.

Flags in ground

Photo Credit: (McKenzie Lewis) Radford University places flags on Muse Lawn every year in memory of those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.

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By McKenzie Lewis | mlewis99@radford.edu

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed American history. For the sake of the brave ones who gave their time, and some their lives, we cannot forget the events of that day.

The Tartan spoke with Mike Buglione, Navy Veteran and former New York City Police Department police officer, to hear his story of the attacks.

“I knew when the second plane hit that it was terror.”

Local of New York, Buglione says he was born and raised in Queens. He left when he was “16 years old at the recruiter, 17 at boot camp.” Before the attacks happened, he had been out of the Navy for eight months.

Buglione was in Manhattan, NY, at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

“I worked for a real estate company called [Sage Realty Corporation]. We had a big conference room where we had bagels and coffee. We usually had the news on,” Buglione said.

“I had started my work and when I heard the woman I worked with screamed saying, ‘Oh my God,’ I ran into the conference room, and it was the first plane that had already hit. We all stood there and watched as the second plane hit,” Buglione said. “I knew when the second plane hit that it was terror.”

In the moment of devastation, Buglione wanted to help right away.

Man in police officer uniform
Photo Credit: (Courtesy of Mike Buglione) Buglione Police Academy graduation photo.

“I called my unit to activate me immediately,” he said. “The Navy didn’t actually activate me.” 

Buglione was not activated because he was a heavy equipment operator, and they didn’t think he could help in any significant way.

“The next day, I went into a National Guard recruiting office and joined that day and went down that afternoon.”

“It was just quiet other than the sounds of the equipment running,” he said. “What sticks out in my mind is the people who were pissed off at guys like me and emergency service guys. ‘It was our fault this happened,’ spitting on us, spitting on the uniform, blaming us for everything.”

Eager to help in any way, he “stood post around ground zero.”

In the days after the attacks, Buglione remembers an eerie feeling surrounding the area.

“It was just quiet other than the sounds of the equipment running,” he said. “What sticks out in my mind is the people who were pissed off at guys like me and emergency service guys. ‘It was our fault this happened,’ spitting on us, spitting on the uniform, blaming us for everything.”

Buglione’s time at ground zero was short, but he worked for weeks after helping respond to the secondary threats coming into the city. 

“Weeks after 9/11, it was a lot of secondary threats coming in, so there was a lot of positioning and maneuvering around the city just to kinda keep everybody safe,” Buglione said.

Man's arm tattoo
Photo Credit: (McKenzie Lewis) The numbers in Buglione’s tattoo represent the 23 NYPD, 343 FDNY, and 37 PANYNJ personnel who lost their lives in 9/11.

Buglione, being at ground zero Sept. 12, 2001, standing post for the National Guard, with the people of New York City, was the most unifying moment of communities coming together he has felt, even with those who were expressing their anger upon them.

“It was wonderful; candlelight vigils everywhere. 9/12 was the most patriotic day in the history of America; I would say … There was no white, black, gray, Chinese. It was ‘we’re all together now. We got through it’,” Buglione said.

Be sure to listen to the full interview with Buglione at rutartan.com.