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Where were you?

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
Thirteen years ago today at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Standard Time American Flight 11, the first of four hijacked commercial passenger jets, crashed into the World Trade Center North Tower. Our great nation was attacked by a group of 19 Al-Qaeda members.

"Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts... These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong," - President George W. Bush

Despite their attempts to threaten our security America fought back and we will continue to fight terrorism for years to come. Now 13 years later, military members and American patriots look back on the events of 9/11 and remember where they were on fateful day.

Today, more than 50 members of the 612th Air Communications Squadron remembered 9/11 victims by participating in a memorial march, stopping throughout the march during key moments in time to honor those who lost their lives. These key moments correlated with the timeline of significant events and earth-shattering moments of impact.

"We organize this march every year to remember the lives that were lost during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and the sacrifices that were made since in the war on terror. It serves as a reminder of what is important and why we need to work hard and train hard so that we are ready when called up," said Lt. Col. Roberto Somarriba, 612th ACOMS deputy commander.

Between stops on the memorial march, 612th ACOMS members discussed where they were during the attacks of 9/11 and the impact the events of that day have had on their lives.

At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower after being overtaken by terrorists, killing everyone on-board and hundreds in the building.

"It started just like any other day, I was driving to work on Sept. 11, 2001 and it was only Tuesday. An hour after I started my shift, my supervisor called for a meeting and announced a plane had collided with one of the World Trade Centers. Then another plane hit the other WTC and this is when my supervisor made another announcement, this was a terrorist attack. I felt I had to do something, I felt there was more to life and I wanted to do something bigger than myself," said Staff Sgt. Christian Chavez, 612th Air and Space Operations Center.

At 9:03 a.m. hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center's South Tower, killing all passengers aboard the aircraft and hundreds more inside the building.

"I was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho when the 9/11 attacks happened. It was my first duty station and I was assigned to the logistics readiness squadron and working in supply. Initially the shock and magnitude of what had happened was overwhelming. It definitely changed my mindset and made me more aware of my surroundings," said Tech. Sgt. Tamira London, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Non-commissioned officer in charge of executive support.

At 9:37 a.m. terrorists crashed the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 into America's symbol of military power, the Pentagon, killing 59 passengers along with 125 brave men and women charged with securing America's freedom.

"At the time I was in attending the University of Puerto Rico. I was asleep in my dorm room when a cleaning lady knocked on the door. I was the only one in the dorm with a TV and she asked to use it, because she heard about the attacks. Soon everyone piled into my room to watch the coverage of the attacks and that's when we witnessed the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center and that's when everyone started to panic. It was at that point that I realized we are not that safe and that it takes brave men and women to defend us against terrorists," said Capt. Juan Matias, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Commanders Action Group.

The last flight, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a Pennsylvania field at 10:03 a.m. after passengers aboard overtook the terrorists and foiled their plan of crashing the hijacked plane into the United States Capitol Building.

"Growing up in Texas I didn't really know what the World Trade Center was until the planes crashed into the two towers. I was in middle school and they pulled us away from our English lesson, so that we could watch the news coverage. There was monumental change in how our community came together to support one another. The attacks gave me a greater appreciation for the military and made me want to join. From that point on I felt like I was obligated to do something bigger than myself," said Senior Airman Jennifer Dane, Lead Intelligence Analyst for the Threat Infusion Cell at 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern).

By the time the dust settled, over 3,000 people were killed during these attacks on U.S. soil, including more than 400 first responders. The memory of their sacrifice will be forever etched in the hearts and minds of every American.

"Everyone takes the oath of enlistment with the words 'I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me...' and I will do what I am sworn to do," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Ripple, 12 Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Communications.

"A great people have been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world," Bush.