ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)–20 years ago, a group of 12 Capital Region students were taking part in an educational trip aboard a replica of Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon.

On September 10th, 2001, the Half Moon anchored just south of the World Trade Center. The next morning, a crew of capital region students and teachers, witnessed a tragedy.

“We heard a muffled thud,” said Dick Brooks, who was a cook on the Half Moon. “And looked up, and saw a big ball of smoke coming from one of the towers.”

The ship’s captain, Chip Reynolds, heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

“About that time, I was on red alert,” said Reyolds. “I was standing up on the quarter deck. Where I could see everything that was going on. The second plane came over so close, and I could actually make out passengers faces inside there and it was unmistakable, where it was headed. But I was trying to will everything I could that it wouldn’t.
Brooks saw it a

Julia Cosgrove, a 7th grader at the time, was looking through binoculars that very moment.

“I think my first thought was, that it’s not real,” recalled Cosgrove. “Like it looked like an action movie.”

The students were told to conduct their daily tasks, in part to help keep their minds off of the horror they just saw.

“It was most impressive how the young people on there really rose to the occasion,” explained Reynolds. “That was probably the most important thing that all of us saw through that day— how well they were able to respond under a crisis that was really unimaginable.”

The tragedy of 9/11 still haunts them, 20 years later.

“I can remember what it smelled like,” said Brooks. “I can still feel the ship rocking. I can still see that plane hitting the building.”

But out of every tragedy, heroes emerge.

“The entire west side highway was nothing but a line of emergency vehicles, so at a point when everyone is fleeing lower Manhattan, here are these first responders who are all going right into the belly of the beast,” noted Reynolds.

Despite jammed lines of communication, the crew was able to alert one of the schools to notify them that they were safe. Eventually, they make it to Verplanck, New York where school busses were waiting to take the kids home that night.