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A Fine Gray Dust

A Fine Gray Dust

On September 11th, 2001, exactly one hour before the first plane hit the World Trade Center, former Marine and highly decorated NYC Firefighter Tom Casatelli switched positions with his friend and mentor, Brian McAleese, on Engine Co. 226. Neither man knew that Brian would pay for that small kindness with his life, and that Casatelli would pay for the rest of his.


In a churning sea of American flags and wailing bagpipes, Tommy, and hundreds of damaged men and women like him were forced to become America's next great heroes. Hobbled by guilt, physical injuries, and severe PTSD, Tom believed that surviving both collapses was not a miracle, but an act of cowardice. Yearning to be scorned by a world that refused to see anything less than a hero, he was hell bent on self-destruction and lived a secret life of three-day benders and barroom brawls as he chased the death he felt heʼd cheated.


Tomʼs journey is universal -- it is the timeless quest to discover what makes a boy a man, and ultimately, a man a hero. This memoir is the story of that quest as

Casatelli shines a light on the phenomena of strong men and women who pretend not to bleed, cry, or fear death, and the author bravely shines that light strongest on himself to prove that sometimes the most heroic thing a man can do is admit that heʼs weak.

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