Duane Jackson has worked as a vendor, selling pocket books, wallets, watches, scarves and golf clubs, for 13 years at the same spot in Times Square in New York City. He knows when someone has parked a car in a spot where it doesn't belong. So when Jackson saw that situation arise on Saturday, he went to investigate.
Little did Jackson know that his actions might have saved several lives. The SUV Jackson checked on wound up containing three barbecue-sized propane tanks, two five-gallon cans filled with gasoline, M-88 firecrackers, two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components. The area was evacuated before disaster occurred and the bomb squad was called - what could have been a terrorist attack was averted.
Jackson, a 15-year member of Frank A. Johnson American Legion Post 758 in Johnson City, N.Y., remained humble despite the publicity that included appearances on "Good Morning America" and on FOX News.
"I just did what I normally would have done," said Jackson, who watched the World Trade Center fall while on Wall Street on Sept. 11. "Where the SUV was parked, it wasn't blocking the street, but the street is so narrow there that buses would have had trouble turning around it. I walked over there to say, ‘Hey, can you move it, buddy?' No one was in the car, but I noticed that the keys were in the ignition and the hazard lights were blinking, and I started to think that something wasn't right.
"Then a local beat cop I know came over and asked me whose was on. Right after that, the car started smoking, the fireworks went off, and everyone started running."
The Vietnam War Navy veteran was stunned by the recognition his act brought him. "Never would I thought that this would have caused all of this. It's really been frantic," he said.
During his interview on "Good Morning America" this morning, Jackson proudly wore his Legion cap.
"I wore it because I'm a big supporter of this organization," he said. "I think it's a great organization, and I will do everything I can to support it and promote it."