If you live in Boston, there’s a pretty good chance that you remember exactly what you were doing just before 3 p.m. on the afternoon of April 15, 2013, when two homemade pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and plunged one of America’s great cities into a paroxysm of fear and grief that soon morphed into steely resolve. Up in the coastal fishing community of Gloucester, 35 miles away from the tragic scene, Dave Marciano felt the reverberations as well.
Marciano, captain of the Hard Merchandise, and one of the stars of the National Geographic Channel series Wicked Tuna, recalls that he was sitting at home on a rare day off, drinking a cup of coffee when he heard a TV news report of the attack. For him, there was an immediate concern—the safety of his daughter Angelica, then a 20-year-old student at Newbury College in Brookline. He tried to call her phone, but was unable to connect, apparently due to the surge of other worried callers. Fortunately, though, he was soon able to reach her by email.
“She was at a friend’s apartment, I think, when it happened,” he recalls. “But the day before, she and the girls were shopping right on that street, in the vicinity of where it went off. They were standing right by the trash barrel near where one of the bombs went off.”
For the rest of the week, Marciano stayed in continuous contact with his daughter, who found herself confined to her apartment while the city was on lockdown during the search for the bombers, whom everyone feared might strike again. Finally, after suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended in Watertown on April 19, the Marciano family—like the rest of Boston—joined in a collective sigh of relief.
“The whole thing was absolutely shocking,” Marciano says. “None of us could imagine anything ever happening like that.”
Boston’s pain caused anguish in Gloucester as well. “We all love Boston,” Marciano explains. “The Patriots and the Celtics are our teams, too. And we all go into the city. At one time or another, we’ve all taken our boats into Boston harbor—some of the big boats will unload their catch there and sell the fish. There’s a very close connection.”
Marciano even had an uncle who once ran the Boston Marathon, though he doesn’t recall what year or what his time was. “It was a goal for him just to go there and finish,” he says. “We were proud of him.”
Fellow Wicked Tuna star Paul Hebert was at the marina, doing some boat maintenance, when he heard the news about the bombing. “Everybody just went home to watch it on TV,” he recalls. “It was devastating. We all cried when we saw it. We just couldn’t fathom that something like this could happen.”
Not long after the attack, Hebert, Marciano and fellow cast member Sandro Maniaci visited a Boston hospital to give encouragement to bombing victims who were recovering from their injuries. Hebert in particular could appreciate the difficult road that some of them face, because of his own experience of being seriously hurt years ago in a fall. “I broke my legs,” he recalls. “I was in a wheelchair for 11 months, and I couldn’t walk for five years. I couldn’t take a shower by myself. The doctor told me that I’d never work again, though I did. But every morning, it takes me an hour to get up and walk. Even so, what they are going through, having lost limbs, I could never imagine that. They’ve got to be so strong, to be doing what they’re doing.”
Hebert hit it off with several of the bombing victims, who like him, had previously worked as carpenters. They’ve stayed in touch ever since. “They’re actually coming down today,” he explained. “They’re going to watch me shoot a promotional spot, and then we’re going to eat some lobster. “
Both Hebert and Marciano think that the trauma of the bombings has helped people in the Boston area to feel a greater sense of connection to one another. Hebert, who along with other cast members has participated in charity events to raise money to help the victims, remembers that such a helping hand enabled him to overcome his own devastating injuries years ago. “When my legs were broken, I couldn’t work,” he says. “I had no money, no nothing. But I still had friends who would help me. When you’re down-and-out like that, it’s an overwhelming feeling. You need to know that somebody cares.”
Hebert also thinks that people in the Boston area are too resilient to let the bombing affect their lives. “I know some people may be a little hesitant to go to watch the Marathon now, because it’s in the back of your mind that something might happen. But I think they will go, anyway. I think Boston is going to be saying to the terrorists, ‘The hell with you. You’re not keeping us down.’”
Check your TV listings for the next airing of the National Geographic Channel special documentary, Inside the Hunt for the Boston Bombers. We hope you find the film to be a riveting, true account of the brave men and women who fought passionately to save their city. And we invite you to share your own reflections in the comments below.