An ex-Marine had a bit of a surprise while watching a commercial for "World Trade Center": He recognized his own story in the movie clip.
"I see these two Marines walking over to the hole, and I said, 'That's us!,'" said Jason Thomas.
The courthouse security officer is one of two former Marines who ignored orders to keep off the scalding hot rubble of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, to take part in the rescue effort.
They found two trapped police officers, whose story is at the heart of Oliver Stone's film.
In the nearly five years since the attacks, Thomas' full identity has remained a mystery. Police and the movie producers knew him only as Sgt. Thomas, while spending years trying to find him.
'This Man Has Been Selfless'
At the time of the terror attacks, Thomas was at his mother's home on Long Island when he decided to go help with the rescue effort in Lower Manhattan.
"I remember running to the vehicle. My uniform was in the trunk. I ran and threw it on and headed to the city," Thomas said. "I really felt that out of all those people in those buildings, that there was someone trapped … that needed our assistance."
As the movie portrays it, two Port Authority officers were pinned down, 20 feet below ground level when they heard Thomas' calls. During the actual tragedy, Thomas helped to rescue them and then went home sick from the smoke.
Thomas now lives in Columbus, Ohio, and never told anyone about the rescue -- not even his five kids -- and had no idea police detectives had tried in vain to find him.
"This man has been selfless, and he doesn't look for fame. He doesn't look for fortune, and I am just glad that I am able to say 'thank-you' to him," said Will Jimeno, who was rescued that day and whose story is told in "World Trade Center."
Thomas recently saw a trailer for the movie and came forward.
The moviemakers admit that without Thomas' guidance, they got some of the details wrong, including casting a white actor to play him. But that's not why Thomas won't be seeing the film.
"I'm not ready for the movie. It would bring back too much," he said.
Besides, he already knows the story by heart.