September 11 Digital Archive

lc_story229.xml

Title

lc_story229.xml

Source

born-digital

Media Type

story

Created by Author

yes

Described by Author

no

Date Entered

2004-01-08

LC Story: Story

On September 11th, 2001, I was an U.S. Air Force master sergeant stationed at Kadena Air Base, on the Pacific island of Okinawa. My normal duty was to fly as an engineer on the RC-135, an Air Force surveillance plane.

When the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred, Okinawa was in the process of being battered by Typhoon Nari (the second typhoon that had hit us in less than two weeks) so all American military personnel and their families had been restricted to quarters to ride out the storm. The news of the attack reached us on our televisions not long after 11 p.m., and those who had already gone to bed were quickly awakened by phone calls from friends and coworkers. Throughout that night, I, and the thousands of other Air Force, Marine, Army and Navy personnel based on Okinawa, were a captive audience to the horrific events depicted on the Armed Forces Network.

LC Story: Memory

Shortly after the collapse of the South Tower, I got a phone call from my squadron's battle staff, advising me to report for duty to implement security measures at my unit's facility. Winds were gusting so strongly that I could barely keep my vehicle on the road.

LC Story: Affects

The events of September 11th were to have a tremendous effect on me personally, as only weeks after the attack I was to find myself flying over Afghanistan as a part of the air war against the Taliban. I wish I could express the feeling of pride, and of justice delivered, that I felt as we smashed their organized resistance a piece at a time, culminating with the Battle of Tora Bora in mid-December.

In a larger sense, the tragedy gave the American people a chance to connect with their Armed Forces on a scale that I personally had not seen during my time in the service, which started in as a "Cold Warrior" in 1985. I'd flown for years in this country's brushfire wires in the Balkans, and had also participated multiple times in the constant low-grade conflict in southern Iraq, and had never once got any feeling that the typical American man on the street know or cared about what I was risking my life to accomplish. After the attacks of 9-11, I experienced overwhelming support and goodwill from nearly everyone I encountered. I was only sorry that it took a national tragedy to build this bridge between the soldier and the civilian - and I truly hope that it can be maintained when we achieve peace once more.

Citation

“lc_story229.xml,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed November 13, 2019, http://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/210.