Answering our nation's call: Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
The events of Sept. 11, 2001, did more than shape a nation; it permanently etched the events and feelings of that day into the memory of every American.

Nine years later, these Team Moody members still remember where they were, what they were doing and how they felt. Whether still a child in school or serving in the military, each of the following stories is proof of the widespread influence that day had.

Col. Gary Henderson, 23rd Wing commander

On Sept. 11, 2001, Colonel Henderson was on a temporary duty assignment near the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

"I was attending a conference not far from the Pentagon when we got word of what had happened. We instantly went to the ground floor and found a room with a TV in it, watching as the second plane hit the second tower.

"We could hear the planes from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., taking off. Because e-mail and phone lines were backed up, it took nearly two hours to get word out to my wife that I was safe. When we got back to our hotel, which is right across the highway from the Pentagon, we could see the flames still going.

"Right away, we wanted to do anything to help, but they didn't want more people on the scene. After that day, I saw people pitch in and come together like never before, instantly working hard to keep things running."

Airman 1st Class Rangel Robinson, 23rd Force Support Squadron customer support representative

On Sept. 11, 2001, Airman Robinson was a high school student in New York.

"From where my school was located, I could actually see the buildings falling. I looked out the window and just saw the buildings burning. The school went into total lockdown and we couldn't leave, so parents had to come and pick us up.

"I was worried because I had an uncle who lived on the 108th floor and I wasn't sure if he was safe or not. Multiple people had friends and family members there, but the phone lines weren't working so there was no way of knowing if they were safe either.

"The instant I saw those buildings go down, I wanted to join the military right away. I had been interested in the Air Force anyway, but that was just the moment I felt I knew what I had to do. A lot of innocent people died that day."

Master Sgt. Robert Adams, 23rd Contracting Squadron contracting specialist

On Sept. 11, 2001, then-Staff Sgt. Adams was stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

"Because of the time differences, it was about 8 p.m. when my neighbor called and told me to turn on my TV immediately. When I did, my wife, 1-year-old daughter and I saw the first tower smoking, but we assumed that it was just an accident.

"Once we saw the second tower hit, we knew it must be a terrorist attack. Seeing that was unbelievable and we were just in shock. I was scared about what might happen next and I wondered how our country would react.

"From then on, attitudes changed for both the better and the worse. People were angry and wanted someone to pay for what had happened, but patriotism increased and the Airmen coming in were motivated to do the mission."

Chaplain (Capt.) Jay Hanson, 23rd Wing Presbyterian chaplain

On Sept. 11, 2001, Chaplain Hanson was not yet in the Air Force and was headed to seminary in New Jersey.

"I was staying at my parent's house, packed and ready to leave for seminary, but I had chosen to sleep in that day. My sister yelled at me to come see what was on TV, so I stumbled downstairs and watched it for the rest of the day. Seeing the second tower fall left me with a horrible feeling in my stomach.

"I still headed to seminary and the updates we received there just seemed so surreal. About a month later, some friends and I visited 'Ground Zero' and at that point, firefighters and policemen were still working through the debris. There were also many people there paying respects.

"In the midst of this tragedy, the demeanors of the local New Yorkers changed greatly. Before 9/11, they mostly ignored each other, but walking down the sidewalk during my visit, people actually made eye contact and smiled. There seemed to be a greater appreciation for life and what it had to offer."

Anthony Edmondson, 23rd Force Support Squadron recreation agent

On Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Edmondson was only in fourth grade and was living near Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

"I woke up and went downstairs, where my parents were in the living room watching TV. I remember looking at it and seeing the buildings fall. I asked if they were watching a movie, but they told me it was real.

"At that point, I was confused and didn't really understand what was going on. I was in shock for a few days after that. Later that day, I was on the bus just trying to just get to school on base and it was taking much longer than usual.

"Normally, it took approximately 15 minutes but that time was drawn out to two hours because of security forces doing checks with their dogs. Once at school we didn't do much because so many people were just in a sad mood and couldn't really concentrate."

Tech. Sgt. Joel Barnett, 23rd Wing Safety Office mishap reporting investigations NCO in-charge

On Sept. 11, 2001, Sergeant Barnett was stationed at Barksdale AFB, La.

"I was at work when one of my troops told me that an airplane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. I remember instantly thinking we were under attack.

"Not much work got done that day because we were all glued to the TV set. Everybody was in a somber mood and not talking and joking like usual because they knew how serious it was. I worked in munitions at the time and preparations were being made for any response.

"My commute time to work also increased from 10 minutes to more than an hour and a half because of the gate guards doing much more thorough checks. It took more than three and a half months for things to start going back to normal."

Senior Airman Monique Jackson, 23rd Security Forces Squadron leader

On Sept. 11, 2001, Airman Jackson was attending a private high school in Ariz.

"We were all doing chores and I had just gotten back from taking the trash out to the dumpster. Coming back in to the common area, there were a lot of girls gathered around the large screen TV, making statements that they just couldn't believe it.

"Even though we were on the other side of the country, school was shut down for the rest of the day. I was kind of scared because I had a cousin who was in the military and I knew it was a possibility he would end up overseas somewhere. A lot of the other girls were also upset or scared because they had family members in the military."

Master Sgt. Roderick Vega, 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron emergency services flight operations superintendent

On Sept. 11, 2001, Sergeant Vega was stationed at Goodfellow AFB, Texas.

"I was going through the basic instructor's course at the Department of Defense Fire Academy when 9/11 happened. The day after, I went to the commander of the academy and asked if I could go to ground zero but he said no.

"Then I asked if I could be on one of the teams preparing to deploy and he again said no. He told me that my mission was to train the upcoming soldiers, sailors, Marines and Airmen, and educate them on everything I knew, so they could go out and fight the war.

"I definitely saw attitudes change that day. Many of the men had the same attitude as me; they wanted to go out and bring the fight to the enemy."