Wednesday, September 11, 2013

NEVER FORGET



    I realize that the following is a re-post (so, if you've read it already, my apologies), but I firmly believe that it's important to remember, despite what that moronic turd, Bob Beckel, has to say.

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    It was just before one o’clock in the afternoon on September 11th (a sad commentary: we don’t even need to identify the year anymore) when my maintenance supervisor stuck his head into my room to wake me.

    “Sir, someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center.”

    Minutes later, I watched, horrified, as a second plane struck the South tower.  And then, as both of the monstrously huge structures tumbled to the ground as if kicked by a petulant child.

    My unit and I were participating in a multi-nation exercise at the Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland (this explains why it was the afternoon).  A round-the-clock operation, the Keflavik Tactical Exchange gave us a unique chance to evaluate each other’s capabilities should we ever needed to flex our respective militaries.  Little did we know that we were preparing for a type of war which belonged to the past.

    Because the 21st Century came roaring into each of our lives on that late summer day.

    Naturally, the exercise was immediately cancelled.  Foreign aircrews (funny that I call them “foreign’” since we were actually foreigners, too) beat hasty returns to their home bases.  We were told that American airspace was closed for an indefinite time.

    Station security forces went into their highest readiness posture.  Watch teams at the main gate beefed up, rings of barbed wire cordoned off perceived sensitive areas, and armed patrols roamed the perimeter.

    My watch teams and I, on the other hand, remained at our billeting.  Only in Iceland for the exercise, we were considered non-essential personnel who’d only get in the way.

    And so we spent the next few days.

    I received a worried phone call from my wife during this time.  She fretted over my safety.  I assured her that I was fine, but omitted the fact that I was more concerned for her and the kids.

    You see, my family lives only a couple hours from New York and only a few from Washington.

    The ensuing few days was a frantic search for whatever updates we could glean from the news and how in the world we’d get ourselves and thousands of pounds of equipment back home.

    Most importantly, we desperately wanted to know how we could get into the fight.  Whatever the fight was.

    Four days later, U.S. airspace was opened to military traffic.  As I glanced through the window of the Navy patrol plane which took us home, I was struck at how empty the sky was-with the exception of the one plane which approached us as we crossed into the United States.  It came no closer than a few miles before it disappeared.

    I think it was a fighter aircraft.

    What’s more, the radio circuits, normally full of the cacophony of countless air traffic controllers, were eerily silent.  The only ones “on the air” were the handful which guided us home.  All else were hushed into silence.

    Our route of flight took us just south of Manhattan, well out of sight of land.  At that distance, even at the altitude at which we were flying, it was impossible to see any of the city skyline.

    But, we did see a huge pall of gray-brown smoke lingering in the air like the death shroud that it was.

    As we touched ground at the air station we called home, there was nobody to greet us.  There was really not much of anything by way of an acknowledgment that we were back.  Somehow, it seemed fitting.

    After all, we all had something much more important to do.

    Go home to our families.





In memory of my friends:
Commander Bill Donovan, USN
AW2 (NAC/AW) Joseph Pycior, USN
and the thousands whose only crime was going to work that day. 

15 comments:

  1. Such a surreal day. I'll never forget it. Heard on the news this morning that it's been 4,383 days and that really hit home - that it's been so long yet it seems like only yesterday.

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  2. Oh, Bob Beckel! I bet he's hating the moment he said that.

    Thank you for posting this again, Al. I will never forget this day and the fear I felt. Never Forget.

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  3. This day will ALWAYS be remembered - it was a tragic day in American history. My husband worked for the government at that time and was in D.C on business. We lived in a suburb of Chicago. I was so worried about him. I didn't think I'd see him for a long time. I was worried that O'Hare would be hit. It was a very scary time. I cried for days watching the news.

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  4. It should not be forgotton, mainly the people, or the act, but mainly the people. But it shouldn't be glorified by those upon high to try and get votes and keep fear alive to further their own agenda either. Awful when just going to work could mean that day could be your last.

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  5. America would never be the same aftewards

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  6. Our house was close to a flight pattern for our international airport and I remember how eerie it was to see the skies empty of all aircraft. I'll never forget that day. It's hard teaching a class of college students while they're crying.

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  7. You never forget something like that. Ever.

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  8. Liberals think we should forget, because of "tolerance" and "understanding". Bullcrap. I won't forget what those a-holes did, and I won't forget the "president" who stood idly by when they did it again.

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  9. I read this at the time a year ago and I still love it Al. I'd never heard of Bob Beckel before but I don't think I want to learn more about him, he's wrong in that attitude, we shouldn't and we never will forget what happened that day.

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  10. Thank you for re-posting this Al. I'm so sorry that you lost some of your dear friends, as well as all of the thousands of people who lost their loved ones. Your last line says it all.

    Julie

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    1. They were my good friends.
      AW1 convinced me to move to Pennsylvania despite my reluctance because it was so close to New Jersey ;-) Because of him, my son and daughter are Pennsylvanians. How's that for having an impact.
      Bill? A day hardly goes by that I don't think of him. He was the Abbott to my Costello.

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  11. Shipmate and fellow GW TAO,
    I was once again assigned to a carrier (USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, CVN 71) when this happened. In an odd twist, I was the ACDCO, a job that Bill had when we were all together on GW. TR was pierside in Norfolk in POM stand-down getting ready for a routine CENTCOM deployment 8 days later. When the terrorists struck, we got locked down and went into an unheard of self-defense posture. While still pierside, we brought up all our air-search radars, loaded our Sea Sparrow missile launchers and assumed combat watches. It was eerie on the scopes not seeing any air traffic except for CAP. I was one of 4 TAOs so we went into a 12 on, 36 off watch schedule. We maintained this schedule until we deployed as scheduled (a lot of our crew was spread out across the country on pre-deployment leave. Since we knew we no longer had a deployment end-date, we just waited till we could get everybody back). After we departed Norfolk, we didn't hit another port for 159 days. We spent that time getting to the North Arabian Sea and dropping bombs in Afghanistan. I asked some of the ordies in the squadrons if I could paint some notes on the bombs in memory of AW1 and CDR Donovan. They obliged and numerous missions were flown with 'high order' salutations from our GW shipmates.

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    1. Thank you so very much. As you can tell from the above I was at the MOCC in Willow Grove when everyone was getting underway (including you). I wanted to get involved much more than I was. One of the saddest things I ever did was escort AW1's body from Dover back to his home (this came from being so close to Dover and my XO knowing that I knew both he and Bill). Bill was a liberty buddy and one of my best friends. But he never went to Dubai with me. I think you know who did. ;-)
      Quote: "She's a working girl."

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