Contemplating 9/11

In remembrance of lives lost, families shattered and the service men and women who continue to fight for the safety and security of our nation, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., has paused to contemplate and vow to never forget 9/11. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Desiree Ann Montenegro)

In remembrance of lives lost, families shattered and the service men and women who continue to fight for the safety and security of our nation, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., has paused to contemplate and vow to never forget 9/11. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Desiree Ann Montenegro)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Some were glued to the television, some to their radios waiting for information, while others were going about their day none the wiser. A nation waited and wondered while their logic attempted to catch up with their hearts. This was the start of the horrific tragedy of 9/11; the results that followed will be remembered throughout history. On that imperishable day, an extremist terrorist group hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, N.Y., and the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. These attacks resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 people, to include more than 400 police officers and firefighters.

As a monument to the lives lost, families shattered, and the service men and women in the military who continue to fight for the safety and security of our nation, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., has paused to ask the question: What were you doing on 9/11?

"On the morning of 9/11, I was supposed to go to downtown Louisville, Ky., to the Military Entrance Processing Station; I would have left for basic training within the week," said Staff Sgt. James Bobbitt, 27th Special Operations Support Squadron joint airlift inspector. "I remember waking up to a phone call from my recruiter telling me that all federal buildings were closed that day. When I turned on the television the news stations recounted the crash into the first World Trade Center tower; and as they spoke, I remember seeing the second airplane fly into the second World Trade Center tower on live television. I knew that nothing would ever be the same after those events."

While sirens blared in the heart of New York, an office filled with contractors was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

"We had no idea of the scope of the real event until we managed to rig up a television to the newscast in the office and saw the fires burning within the towers," said Keith Adams, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron contractor. "Then, the video of the airliner flying directly into the towers played and we knew this was far more serious. We watched a live newscast feed from New York as the towers fell. As the news spread across the base, everything became hushed. Can you imagine more than 400 young men and women gathered in a small space with no more noise than a whisper? It was a most unreal scene."

As the buildings crumbled so did the dreams for a young boy of ever looking at another family vacation the same.

"My family was on vacation on Galveston Island near Houston, Texas, when the planes hit," said Capt. Gregory Haverkorn, 524th Special Operations Squadron research and development/C-146A pilot. "My dad got me out of bed to watch the news with him. We cut our vacation short and began driving home that afternoon. On the drive home, I remember watching two Texas Air National Guard F-16s flying combat air patrol over downtown Houston. It was both reassuring and sobering at the same time. It very clearly underscored the fact that our nation was under attack - American blood had been shed on American soil for the first time since Pearl Harbor."

As the fire consumed the World Trade Center towers, parents and teachers courageously explained to their children what was happening.

"I was in 7th grade on Sept. 11, 2001," said Staff Sgt. Terrence Belflower, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman. "I had just started my first period of the day by going over the previous night's homework when a teacher came in and interrupted the lesson to show us the news. We all watched as the other plane hit the second tower. Afterward, school was cancelled for the day."

The public was waiting for our nation to respond, while family members were waiting to hear if their loved ones had survived.

"I was at work when a bulletin came in on the radio," said Kenny Cable, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron flight operations. "I turned the TV on in time to see the second plane. I called my wife and told her to turn the home TV on and record what was happening. It was a sick feeling as everyone in the office huddled around and watched it all unfold. We watched in shock, waiting to see what the U.S. response would be."

In remembrance of lives lost, families shattered and the service men and women who continue to fight for the safety and security of our nation, Cannon has paused to contemplate and vow to never forget 9/11.