New Tragedies Stir Up Memories and Anxieties

After the Roar of the Hurricane

In “After the Roar of the Hurricane,”  Chaplain Bob Ossler reflects on his experiences in previous tragedies–9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and now Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Old pain and anxieties surface, but our resolve remains to support other hurting people through service and prayer in every tragedy that befalls us.

Published in the Havok Journal, September 10, 2017. Written by Chaplain Bob Ossler and Janice Hall Heck   Click on the blue title above to read this touching article .

See also Chaplain Bob Ossler’s intimate memories of counseling victims’ families and Ground Zero cleanup workers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

Triumph Over Terror by Ground Zero Chaplain Bob Ossler
Triumph Over Terror by Ground Zero Chaplain Bob Ossler with Janice Hall Heck


Remembering the Heroes of 9-11

A special “thank-you” goes out to our friends at Margate Community Church in Margate City, NJ for hosting Chaplain Bob Ossler and his “Remembering the Heroes of 9-11” talk on Friday night, September 16.

Bob was guest speaker at the regular MCC “Third Friday” event. MCC hosted a cook-out with hamburgers, hot dogs, and all kinds of delicious picnic foods.

We had a nice crowd to help us celebrate the publication of Triumph Over Terror, Bob’s reflections on his experiences as a volunteer chaplain at Ground Zero.


Bob met up with retired Farmington, NJ Station 15-4 firefighter Skip Ritchie and swapped firefighting stories. Skip is a regular at Margate Community Church and inspires us all with his level of energy and commitment to serving in the church. And besides, he makes the best pancakes at our bi-annual pancake breakfasts.mgcc-bob-and-skip

Of course, no dinner at Margate Community Church is complete without the outstanding desserts that members bring. Desserts galore filled the table, with more in the kitchen ready to serve. Kay Myers made her special coconut lemon cake for her own birthday.  Happy Birthday, Kay!


And here comes Bill Busch with his famous trifle!


Lucky us, we had many delicious desserts left for Sunday morning coffee hour. MCC has the best cooks!

And Bob talked and talked….and gave out hugs and more hugs… and signed copies of Triumph Over Terror.


Thanks everyone for making this Third Friday event such a special evening.

Next month’s special guests for Third Friday will be Kathryn and Ed Ross, dramatists, who will present a Wild West skit, “There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills.”  Wear your cowboy and cowgirl duds to this event!

Janice Hall Heck





Exhausted Chaplain – September 11 Photo Project


Long after midnight, as I trudged off the Pile at Ground Zero in 2001 and headed to St. Paul’s Chapel for some much needed food and rest, I heard a voice call out of the darkened, ash-filled air.

I turned, and photographer Mary Gepana Eble took the picture in this photo below.


I didn’t know her at the time, but she tracked me down a few months later and sent me an album of her photos from Ground Zero. I treasured those photos and showed them to many people over the years.

This year, as I worked on the manuscript of Triumph Over Terror, I showed this picture to my writing partner, Janice Hall Heck.

“We have to find Mary and get permission to use the picture in our book!” she said.

But I only remembered that Mary was from California.

We Tweeted. We put messages on Facebook. We searched the Internet. We called old New York friends and friends of friends. No luck. No Mary.

Then I took one picture out of the album and turned it over. And there it was. Mary’s address.

One telephone call later, Bob told Mary about our writing project, and she agreed to let us use the picture. This photo was part of a traveling exhibit of the September 11 Photo Project. The photos now rest in the archives of the New York City Library.

There’s more.

On Friday night of last week, September 9, 2016, we held a Book Launch for Triumph Over Terror at the Cumberland County Community Church in Millville, NJ, where I am Pastor of Visitation. Fifteen minutes before the program start time, in walks Mary Gepana Eble. She flew from California to be at this special event. What a great surprise. (Jan was in on the secret but kept her silence).


Now this week, Mary is in New York visiting family members, and she tracked down the original photo at the New York City Library and took a picture of the photo, retrieved from the archives by a helpful librarian.

Thank you, Mary. You touched my heart with your surprise visit and now this photo of the original photo you took fifteen years ago.

Tonight, September 13, 2016, Mary posted this photo on Facebook.

“I wrote this note on the back of my firefighter image of Bob Ossler Chaplain that is now part of the Sept 11 Photo Project.”








9-11 Tribute: #Never Forget

#Never forget those brave heroes and citizens of our country who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.