Americans in Mumbai: “All of the Sudden People Tried to Kill Us”

Two Delaware men were caught in the middle of a terrorist attack

Dennis O’Brien and Rich Diffenderffer don’t look like action heroes.

“We’re a bunch of old farts, I mean,” said Diffenderffer.

Well, ok, maybe they're not heroes, but they are at least survivors. The guys were in Mumbai last week on business when things suddenly got ugly.

“All of the sudden one night, people tried to kill us,” said O’Brien

Dennis and Rich were staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel, the prime target of the terrorist attack. The shooting began right after they had left the hotel restaurant.

“We left at about 9:30 pm, 9:35 pm to be exact -- 10 minutes later everyone in the restaurant was under fire or dead,” said O’Brien.

Once they were back in their own rooms they noticed the hotel's cable TV was out and nobody was answering the phone at the front desk. Rich's son called him from Connecticut and told him to stay in his room, that the terrorists were targeting Americans and Brits.

“On that comforting note, I went to the mini bar and I had a triple,” said Diffenderffer.

After the stiff drink, both men saw terrorists in the hallways and so they both barricaded themselves in their rooms.

Six hours later, as the hotel was burning and shots were still flying, the Mumbai Fire Department used a ladder truck to rescue Dennis from his smoky room. Three hours after that, firefighters were able to rescue Rich.

Both of these guys say their experiences in the U.S. military helped get them through this traumatic situation --it helped them keep a cool head in the middle of the chaos.

“What the army told us was true -- If you pretend you're dead to start with, you'll think straighter, and listen and do the right things,” said O’Brien, ” I absolutely refuse to take credit for courage but I was not afraid.”

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