Sept. 11, 2001, was a day that, like Pearl Harbor, will live on in history. At the Pentagon alone, 184 lives were lost, including Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy members, Department of Defense civilians, passengers and crew.
Since that day, more than 35,000 servicemembers have given their lives in service of their country. Nearly 40,000 Airmen are currently deployed in support of overseas contingency operations, more than half of them in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Last month, Air Force aircraft dropped more than 3.8 million pounds of cargo in support of OEF, adding to the 13.8 million pounds dropped since January.
Recently, the 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office went out to talk to Ramstein Airmen about their thoughts on that tragic day.
Name: 1st Lt. Wes Manus
Unit/job title: 603rd Air Operations Center
Hometown: Little Rock, Ark.
Joined the Air Force: November 1997
What impact did Sept. 11 have on your military career? My enlistment was scheduled to end November 2001. The week before I was scheduled to begin
terminal leave, Sept. 11 happened. I was kept in for an additional year under the stop-loss program. The event strengthened my resolve to get my education and
Where were you on Sept. 11? I had just returned from a deployment and was relaxing at home. I rolled out of bed and turned on the TV in time to see the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
What were your first thoughts? A feeling of shock overwhelmed me. It took several minutes for me to comprehend what happened.
Eventually, my thoughts turned to anger as I began to realize how many innocent people had become victims of a horrific act.
How many times have you deployed and to where? Several times. Twice to South Germany in support of Operation Allied Force, once to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch, once to Oman in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and once to Pakistan in support of OEF.
Name: Staff Sgt. Maria Johnson
Unit/job title: U.S. Air Forces in Europe director of staff executive services
Hometown: Iselin, N.J.
Joined the Air Force: July 2001
What impact did Sept. 11 have on your military career? I was still brand new. Honestly, it gave me the desire to stay in. It gave me purpose and a mission to defend our country when we were most needed.
Where were you on Sept. 11? I was in technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. We were getting ready for physical training and we all got called into the dorm charge of quarters or CQ room. That’s when they turned the TV on and showed us the news. Minutes later, we saw the second tower get hit.
What were your first thoughts? It was a shocking moment. We were all confused; we weren’t sure if it was training or real world. After discovering it was real, I first thought of my family – my mother specifically. I knew she had clients all over New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and she took the train quite often. I got on the phone as soon as I could and checked on my family. My mother was sleeping and wasn’t aware of the situation. It was a huge relief.
How many times have you deployed and to where? I have not deployed yet. But, I have been to remote areas like South Korea (Kunsan) and Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, each for one year.
Name: Senior Airman Tadd Ragsdale
Unit/job title: 86th Medical Squadron aerospace
Hometown: Mobile, Ala.
Joined the Air Force: January 2006
What impact did Sept. 11 have on you joining the military? If I could have been able to join the military during Sept. 11, I definitely would have, but I wasn’t old enough.
Where were you on Sept. 11? In third-period Spanish class my freshman year at Crystal Lake South High School in Illinois.
What were your first thoughts? Disbelief and anger.
How many times have you deployed and to where? I have deployed to South East Asia on a humanitarian mission on the U.S. Navy hospital ship, USNS Mercy, in the summer of 2008. We went to the Republic of the Philippines, Vietnam, the Republic of Singapore, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to administer medical services to people in those countries.