What to Know
- Robert Small, who survived the '93 bombing, was an office manager at Morgan Stanley on the 72nd floor of the south tower on 9/11
- He is still haunted by the images of seeing people jumping from the burning towers after the planes hit
- Small helped two people escape the towers that day, and, 15 years later, is still looking to reconnect
Somewhere out there may be a 14-year-old boy or girl whose mother's life was saved by Robert Small as the twin towers burned on Sept. 11, 2001.
Small was an office manager at Morgan Stanley on the 72nd floor of the south tower, and as a survivor of the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center, he'd become the company's fire safety warden.
"There was this boom and a vibration, and I thought, 'Not again,'" Small said, telling his story in a video for visitors to the 9/11 Tribute Center.
Confident he could walk 72 flights down to safety, Small guided others along the way with encouragement and water.
"My friend and I had two backpacks full of water. The reason why I had so much is in '93, I wished I'd had water," he told NBC 4 New York.
Small still remembers watching victims jumping from the burning towers.
"The flames, I'd never seen such an orange color before," he wrote in a 44-page account of the day after his therapist advised him to recall every detail.
"I remember calling out, 'Oh, God' over and over," he wrote. "It was a person. Who was going to help this person? This person is going to hit the ground. This person is going to die."
"As much as you want to look away, you really can't," he said.
But the sight somehow gave him strength.
"And then this woman fell. She seemed to have accepted her fall. She made a star-like pattern," Small told NBC 4 New York. "From that moment on, everything went my way. She was a calming feeling. She got me out."
Small journeyed down the stairwell, counting the floors every so often as he passed it: "Sixty more to go. Fifty-two more to go."
On his way down, he encountered a 4-month pregnant woman.
"I just encouraged her to keep going," he said. "Every time she wanted to stop, I'd ask her to give me one more floor."
After finally getting to safety, "as we parted, I just jokingly told her, if it's a boy, name him Robert."
Small never saw the woman again. But he's been looking for her.
"I just want to say hi, give her a hug and say I'm glad she made it," he said.
He also never saw the East Brunswick, New Jersey, man who gave him a ride home after the towers fell.
Each year, Small, who lives in Old Bridge, New Jersey, posts on Facebook to honor the day. Last year, he made an appeal to help find the woman and the man who got him home.
"Maybe, just maybe we'll find those two folks," he said in the Facebook video.
His first Facebook plea got 170,000 views. This year, Small will be overseas on the anniversary, but he's hoping someone watching or reading this story will remember him from the south tower stairs.
Perhaps the woman's child is walking around the city somewhere, Small thinks.
"I probably passed the kid a thousand times and never knew it," he said.