Hampton man who worked as truck driver in NYC recalls capturing 9/11 aftermath on a disposable camera

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HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A New York man now living in Hampton was in the city the day of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

He captured unforgettable photos from that day.

James Perry isn’t shy about where he grew up.

“That’s where I’m from,” Perry said. “That’s my home. I love it.”

He was a New York taxi driver by night.

“There was nothing I could not do with a truck,” he laughed.

By day, he was behind the wheel of a big rig. He even drove with no fear of that city traffic.

“None, if you know how to drive,” Perry added. “I scared the hell out of a lot of people.”

20 years ago, Perry was dropping off a load of diesel fuel on Long Island as two commercial planes crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a fourth wrecked in a field in Pennsylvania thanks to heroic actions by passengers on board.

“When I went around to where the tanks were, there were women laying on the ground crying,” Perry recalled.

It was a day few Americans will ever forget.

“They were saying a plane went into the World Trade Center,” Perry said. “I said ‘What?’ I stopped the truck, locked it down and got out and said ‘Oh my God.'”

Perry ran into a grocery store and bought a disposable camera.

“I got on top of the truck and started shooting,” he said.

The images he captured still haunt him today.

“What messed me up was watching the people jump from the windows,” Perry added.

His feelings are still just as strong.

“I have tears,” he said. “Just looking at a sight that I would never figure to see in my life, and it was really terrifying to me.”

Perry’s photos are now part of history. It’s a part of a day so many remember, including this New Yorker who watched the tragedy unfold two decades ago.

“I was counting it the other day when they [put] it on tv,” Perry said. “I couldn’t believe it. It was a fast 20 years.”

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