War on Terrorism

Friday, September 13, 2013

9/11 ceremony triggers memories of honor guard members

by Staff Sgt. Candice C. Page
Headquarters Air Combat Command

9/13/2013 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- The Langley Air Force Base Honor Guard along with local community organizations and local residents stood together Sept. 11, 2013 to remember the 2,977 civilians who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks.

The honor guard took part in one of the many events scheduled world-wide to remember and honor Americans affected by the attacks 12 years ago. The honor guard led the presentation of colors, marched to lay the wreath in honor of the fallen and participated in taps, during Operation Homefront Freedom Walk in Peninsula Town Center, Hampton, Va.

Senior Airman Steven Hughes, honor guard detail commander for the Operation Homefront Freedom Walk, remembers being in eighth grade English class at a Baltimore County middle school when the attack on America took place.

"The school went on lockdown and the principal lined up all the buses to have us sent home," said Hughes. "When I got home and learned of the tragedy I was in shock, wow did this really happen, oh my gosh. All I could think was I really hope everyone got out of there ok."

Hughes said the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001 greatly influenced his decision to join the military. He is now an F-22 avionics technician with Langley's1st Fighter Wing.

Senior Airman Gregory Peterson, an aircraft armament systems technician with the 1st Fighter Wing, remembers being home and hearing his parents talk about his uncle, who was serving in the Air Force in Delaware. The family said he was on 24-hour duty after the 9/11 attacks.

"September 11 essentially opened my eyes and definitely made me become more involved in helping the community and my nation," said Peterson. "It also played a big part in me joining the military, to be there to protect my loved ones and my nation."

The Airmen who serve on the honor guard participate in many ceremonies during their 90-day honor guard rotation, but when the opportunity to be part of the Operation Homefront Freedom Walk presented itself, they did not hesitate to volunteer.

"It means a lot to be in the honor guard and doing this event today," said Hughes. "I am representing a monumental event that occurred and I want to do my best to represent everything that occurred and represent the families that were affected and all the people impacted by the event."

Staff Sgt. Steve Stanley, Air Combat Command public affairs photojournalist, contributed to this report.

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