September 11 Digital Archive

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How has your life changed because of what happened on September 11, 2001?

It didn't....

How will you remember the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks?

That day was a nice sunny day on the Monterey Peninsula, but it was to be one of the biggest changes in my life, for you see; I was working as a Federal Police Officer at the old Ft. Ord Annex, which was the former home of the 7th Infantry Division at Ft. Ord, Ca. After the 7th Division was deactivated in 1995, the former Ft. Ord was closed down to include the old Silas B. Hayes Army Community Hospital, during the years leading up to the September 11th attack, the hospital was being used by other Federal Agencies.

On that day, I was assigned to work at the DMDC/DFAS (Defense Management Data Center / Defense Finance and Accounting Services) building. After our briefing at 6:00am I took my patrol vehicle, and drove half a block up from our Police Station, and went inside to relieve the midnight shift. After going over the nights events I went outside and got in my car and drove to the back of the DFAS to watch the Federal Workers come in to work.

While waiting and watching the civilians coming in, I had turned my vehicles radio to the San Francisco radio channel KGO Talk, to listen to the news from the Bay Area. While in my car, I was reading a few police reports that I had written when I heard the first attack on one of the twin towers. Sitting there in my car, I started to think about the B-24 bomber that had run into the Empire State Building in 1945, and thought that this was an accident so I turned up the volumne to listen to the news report. A few minutes later, I heard the reporters on scene at the twin towers talking about the first airplane crash, the fire, the responding fire and police units. Then I heard a cry that another plane was heading for the second tower.

As I sat there in silence, I heard the scream of somone in the back saying the plane was going to hit, and a few minutes later the second plane ran into the second tower. While sitting there in silence, suddenly I could hear the police dispatcher telling everyone that we were now going into what at that time was the code for "War-Time" conditions. As I sat there listening to our dispatcher I could now see numerous flatbed trailers traveling up the roadway in front of the DMDC building. What seemed like a few minutes, was approximately 20-30 minutes before the empty flatbeds were now full of orange barricades, heading for the DMDC, the Presidio of Monterey (Defense Language Institute), and roadways leading onto the old Ft. Ord

I was then orderd to go to the front entrance, where I was now ordered to do a 100% ID card check on everyone who wanted to enter the DMDC/DFAS building. Now if you didn't have a valid Military or Federal ID Card, you were turned away. From the time of the second plane hitting the twin towers, I spent appproximately 14 hours on station w/o any breaks. From what we gathered, the entier Military Community on the Monterey Peninsula to include the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey was no on full War Time alert.

As the news continued, the Presidio of Monterey was shut down, but some months prior to the attack, the Presidio of Monterey had already closed down several key gates leading in and out of the Presidio to civilian traffic. In fact, guard posts were already set up, barricades in place, and the students were learning how to man guard posts. So when the attack came on September11th, it was now easy to shut down the Presidio to all but authorized Military & Civilian Federal Emplyees.

Our life as Police Officers drastically changed. We found out that besides the people in the airplanes that had crashed at the twin towers, the Pentagon, and in the Pennsylvania field, we lost over 200-300 of our brother and sister police & firefighters.

All days off were cancelled, and vacation/annual leaves were being denied. Many of us maybe got one day off during the entire time we were working back to back shifts. All of us were now being required to work our regular three day 12 hour shifts, and on our off days we worked security at the gates. Officers could not do many things like takaing care of their laundry, many of us did not see our famlies for a long period, just enough time to get some sleep, then back to work. At the gates we all worked around 12-18 hours.

To help us out, the Nevada National Guard was activated to perform gate duties. On November of that year, the first element of the Nevada National Guard Military Police Battalion came to the Presidio of Monterey to take over security. After they had been trained, the police department went back to regular police functions, but we still had to assist the National Guard if they needed our help.

In 2005 I retired from the Presidio of Monterey Police Department with over 22 years. I have long since gone back to school at our local Community College, and I have a son that is in the Air Force who has been to Iraq, and Afthghanistan. I am glad of my service to my country, and if called back as a Police Officer I would not hesitate to join my fellow brothers & sisters.

Citation

Cameron Garcia, “[Untitled],” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed December 16, 2017, http://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/96788.