War on Terrorism

Friday, September 11, 2015

Seymour Johnson AFB remembers 9/11

by By Staff Sgt. Chuck Broadway
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- A 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony was held Sept. 11, at the main fire station on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina to mark the 14-year anniversary since the terrorist attacks of 2001.

More than 150 members of the base and local community attended this year's event, which featured a slideshow of imagery, 21-gun salute, bell ceremony and special narrations regarding the different events of 9/11.

"It's been 14 years since a perfect blue-sky morning turned into the blackest of nights," said Sean Quinby, 4th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief. "What began as an ordinary day resulted in the loss of 2,977 citizens from over 90 countries."

Quinby compared 9/11 to other historic events, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Oklahoma City bombing.

"I have known death, but I cannot imagine what it is like to suffer a loss so great that it scars the soul," he said. "No memorial, ceremony or words will ever provide solace or serenity or fill the void left in the hearts of loved ones whose grief knows no end."

Quinby spoke of the differences in our country now compared to 20 years ago, specifically citing the fortress of concrete and steel surrounding our nation's assets, such as the Capitol Building. Both Quinby and others admitted the events of 9/11 shaped who we are today.

"September 11th changed individuals and our nation," said Maj. Brent Gallant, 4th Security Forces Squadron commander. "Our nation, regardless of political leaning, united together in support of the public servants and military to an extent not seen in many years. Today we commemorate the victims of September 11th and recognize the heroes, giving thanks to those who served, those who continue to serve and to the great Americans who, despite well-known danger, will choose to serve in the future."

To encourage visitors to the ceremony to share stories of remembrance with each other, Col. Mark Slocum, 4th Fighter Wing Commander, asked the crowd "Where were you on 9/11?"

"For me, I had flown a training mission late the night before and was awoken by a call to turn the TV on just in time to see the second plane hit," recalled Slocum, as he shared the military perspective with the audience.

At the time, Slocum was at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, in the 'On-Call Air Expeditionary Wing' and was immediately put on alert status in case his F-15E Strike Eagle squadron was needed to deploy. A month later, he said, he and his squadron of F-15E aircrew were deployed to the middle east and engaging the Taliban from the skies over Afghanistan.

"The emotion from 9/11 was felt by our Airmen as much as every other American," Slocum added. "But you would be incredibly impressed with the professionalism of those aviators. While many Americans were angry and wanted to wipe everyone out, our aircrew were disciplined and continuously fought to minimize collateral damage as we targeted the enemy. Now, we have a nation where some are ready to move on. But some of us should not forget. When I am asked now where I was that day, I respond not just that I was at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho...I was simply in America with my countrymen and fellow Airmen, and we were trained and ready to fight anytime and anyplace our Nation asked. That is why we still train every day, and why we must Never Forget."

No comments: