HomeNewsStoriesDisplay

9/11 Reflections

Ironically, I was at Osan Air Base on Sept. 11, 2001. I remember the day because I was a young Staff Sergeant TDY from Kadena Air Base, Japan. We got a call late at night alerting everyone to come into work. As an Airman assigned to the 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron, I remember our unit gathering to figure out what was going on because it was late at night. We didn’t know exactly what was happening during that time, but as you can imagine we were getting prepared.

Chief Master Sergeant Justin Apticar, 51st Fighter Wing Command Chief Ironically, I was at Osan Air Base on Sept. 11, 2001. I remember the day because I was a young Staff Sergeant TDY from Kadena Air Base, Japan. We got a call late at night alerting everyone to come into work. As an Airman assigned to the 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron, I remember our unit gathering to figure out what was going on because it was late at night. We didn’t know exactly what was happening during that time, but as you can imagine we were getting prepared. I never expected to be a Command Chief, but to be the 51st Fighter Wing Command Chief exactly 20 years after those terrible events that impacted our nation’s history is interesting. To lead Airmen during this time is a privilege and an honor. I’m always mindful of why we do what we do here at Osan. Readiness remains a top priority and Airmen should always be prepared to “Fight Tonight”.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was on my first deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the Deputy Services Squadron Commander.  Even though the attacks were on U.S. soil, deployed service members in the Middle East were terrified of what was next.

Col. Elizabeth J. Eychner, 51st Fighter Wing Mission Support Group Commander On Sept. 11, 2001, I was on my first deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the Deputy Services Squadron Commander. Even though the attacks were on U.S. soil, deployed service members in the Middle East were terrified of what was next. I remember the unity of our country through this tragedy and how we all stood together for freedom. We knew that we were going after those behind the attacks that claimed so many innocent lives. This kind of mass tragedy hadn’t effectively happened on U.S. soil since WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The sacrifices made by many service members over the last 20 years are because of the attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. I am proud to have served with so many men and women who made costly sacrifices in bringing those who were behind the 9/11 attacks to justice. Also, through the military and diplomatic operations over the last 20 years, many in the Middle East who had no hope were given opportunities to make a better life for themselves and their families…and they did! We lost a lot of Americans and their sacrifices are honored by remembering the last two decades of military operations as we all stop to reflect on how it all happened.

I remember Sept. 11, 2001 like it was yesterday. I had just got home from a 12-hour shift as a defender assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan when, I received back-to-back phone calls to head back into work.

Senior Master Sergeant Kazue Martinez, 51st Fighter Wing Security Forces Senior Enlisted Leader I remember Sept. 11, 2001 like it was yesterday. I had just got home from a 12-hour shift as a defender assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan when, I received back-to-back phone calls to head back into work. When I arrived to learn the unbelievable news, it was chaotic and I immediately thought about whether or not my mother, who was an Army Medic Reservist, who got a call to deploy. She was sent to support Desert Storm so I had an idea on military operations. Eventually, we got orders to position and I ended up posted for another 12+ hours in the middle of a typhoon, doing what I love, defending my country and answering my nation’s call.

I made the decision to join the U.S. Air Force before Sept. 11, 2001. I had no idea what the future held for me and I didn’t know what war was at the time. I was a teenager just trying to find my way.

Master Sergeant Christopher Flores, 51st Fighter Wing Security Forces defender I made the decision to join the U.S. Air Force before Sept. 11, 2001. I had no idea what the future held for me and I didn’t know what war was at the time. I was a teenager just trying to find my way. When I first learned of the attacks, I was in history class. I sat down and the teacher was wheeling-in the old school television to display the news and he said something was going on in New York City. I saw people jumping to their death instead of being burned alive. Shortly thereafter, the second plane crashed into the south tower and later I watched reruns of the towers falling. The other news was playing on the lower banner of a plane crashing in Pennsylvania and another in the Pentagon. Like many other Americans, I had mixed feelings of sadness, anger and of course confusion. I remember years prior to 9/11, our nation supported operations in Kosovo and the Gulf War when I was in grade school.

It was early in the afternoon on a normal working day when our boss told us to head back to the fire station. I was a Senior Airman assigned to Aviano Air Base, Italy during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

CMSgt Max Wheeler – 51st Civil Engineer Squadron, Fire Chief It was early in the afternoon on a normal working day when our boss told us to head back to the fire station. I was a Senior Airman assigned to Aviano Air Base, Italy during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The base immediately went to a Delta posture and no one was allowed on or off the base. Our world has changed since that day. Travel security has increased, military training has expanded and our nation, both military and civilians, has stood the watch for 20 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a fire chief assigned to Osan, I take great pride in what we do. I remind our Airmen that at any moment, anything can happen and to always take our training very serious. The fire fighters, law enforcement and first responders on the scenes of those horrific tragedies didn’t know what they were getting into that day when they woke up. It was a normal day for them and they answered the nation’s call. When I was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant, my line number was 343. I’ll never forget it and when I heard it, I immediately thought about the 343 fire fighters we lost on Sept. 11, 2001. It makes me proud to have an opportunity to serve and to take great pride in what we do for our nation.

On Sept. 11, 2001, My Dad, picked me up from school with a very concerned look on his face. I asked what’s going on and he explained how our nation was under attack after two planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

Tech. Sgt. Tavarus Roberts, 51st Fighter Wing Security Forces defender On Sept. 11, 2001, My Dad, picked me up from school with a very concerned look on his face. I asked what’s going on and he explained how our nation was under attack after two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. He explained to me how important and how large those buildings were and what it could mean for our nation. When I realized what was actually happening it hit me that my mom was flying to New York that day. He got choked up when he told me he had been trying to call her for hours but no response. As you can imagine the frustration and concern was at an all-time high. We turned on the news and watched replays of the planes hitting the twin towers. It was crazy and unbelievable. I immediately got angry and asked my dad how what we could do. My Dad is a Marine, he knew we were definitely going to respond as a nation, but didn’t know how. I remember praying so hard that my mom wasn’t on one of those planes that crashed. Tears rolled down our faces due to the worry and concern for her. I’m sure my dad cried out of frustration but he would put his fist over his mouth and go to his room. I remember when my mom called and we were filled with so much relief. She said she had tried to call but everything was down and the airport was in total chaos. It was something she had never imagined happening. Our nation will forever remember the fallen that day and we’re blessed to be able to serve.

Right when I turned the TV on the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I’ll never forget it. I was assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea on Sept. 11, 2001. 

I knew we were going to war, but I just didn’t know with who. It was very obvious that this was an attack on our nation. 

As a First Sergeant, our focus has always been to take care of our troops. 

Afghanistan and Iraq has been our life for the past 20 years. I can say we know how veterans of previous conflicts feel about their service in Vietnam, Korean and other wars. 

I think a lot about the men and women who defended our nation and think about individuals that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Senior Master Sergeant Kesler, 51st Fighter Wing First Sergeant Right when I turned the TV on the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I’ll never forget it. I was assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea on Sept. 11, 2001. I knew we were going to war, but I just didn’t know with who. It was very obvious that this was an attack on our nation. As a First Sergeant, our focus has always been to take care of our troops. Afghanistan and Iraq has been our life for the past 20 years. I can say we know how veterans of previous conflicts feel about their service in Vietnam, Korean and other wars. I think a lot about the men and women who defended our nation and think about individuals that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --

Twenty years ago, the course of our Nation was forever altered when terrorists hijacked and deliberately crashed commercial airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  They failed in their goal of paralyzing the United States through fear because of Americans’ ability to stand together with hope, resilience, and perseverance against terrorism. 

We will never forget the nearly 3,000 innocent people who lost their lives that day in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, and the many who were injured.  Nor will we overlook those who have sacrificed since in American and global efforts to combat terrorism. Just as we remember those lost, we honor the families who have bravely endured life without their loved ones who died on September 11th and in the operations that followed.  In their honor, we will never stop working together to ensure the safety and security of our Nation and its people.