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Like many other Americans, Navy SEAL Reserve Capt. Andrew Bisset ’67 was anxious to help any way he could following the World Trade Center collapse. He immediately volunteered and used his Navy SEAL contacts to find a job that needed his skills. He worked 40 hours straight as a military liaison at “command central,” the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management for New York City, which was housed in Stuyvesant High School.

“I was in the thick of it,” says Bisset, who arrived at Ground Zero Thursday morning, Sept. 13. ” When I arrived, parts of buildings were still falling down. Ground Zero was nothing but heavy smoke. There were 100 different city, state and federal agencies trying to help. Volunteers were pouring in. Everyone wanted to help. It was like the Wild West. It was a very confused situation. I helped plan the defense perimeter for lower Manhattan as well as helping set up a badge and security pass system for the area. My job was to provide logistical help and make things happen.”

After turning the work over to the National Guard when they arrived, Bisset made his way out of the defense perimeter Friday evening and was met by hundreds of New York City residents who were grateful to the rescuers. “I’m a Vietnam vet, and I felt like we had liberated Paris,” Bisset says. “I felt very appreciated. It was wonderful to see everyone coming together to work towards a common goal. It was an uplifting experience. “

Bisset credits several faculty and coaches for helping prepare him for life after Lafayette. “Dr. (Samuel) Pascal was my French teacher,” he says. “I struggled with French. He was a very warm person, not easy, but made me work hard to do better. Dr. (Richard) Welch was my history teacher. He was very inspirational. He helped prepared me for law school.

“The intense summer practices in the heat for football, and the experience of working through the physical pain of early practices prepared me for SEAL training,” Bisset continues. “Wrestling Coach (Kenneth) Campbell was a great leader, very inspirational. Marvin Braden (football backfield coach) was a great motivational speaker. I learned self-discipline and self-reliance from them.”

Bisset had just finished his first year of law school after graduating with a degree in economics when he was notified his draft status had been changed to 1A, the first to be drafted. It was the height of the Vietnam War, and Pres. Lyndon Johnson had signed a bill repealing the student deferments for all single male college seniors and first-year graduate students. Bisset immediately enlisted in the Navy and volunteered for SEAL training. “The SEAL training was the most difficult six months of my life,” he says. He was selected for officer candidates’ school and spent three years in a SEAL underwater demolition team in Central and South America. After five years of active duty, he joined the Navy Reserves.

Thirty years later, he is still active in the Reserves and is now running a mentoring program to help young people entering the SEAL training program. A consultant, he is president of Bisset Telecommunications Group, Stamford, Conn.

Categorized in: Alumni