KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing gathered for a ceremony here, Sept. 11, 2020, to remember a series of events that forever changed the nation’s history.
Nineteen years ago, the U.S. shook, when multiple terrorist attacks occurred on U.S. soil, Sept. 11, 2001. Nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners. Flights 11 and 175 crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. Within two hours, both buildings collapsed. The third plane, Flight 77, crashed into the Pentagon. The fourth plane, Flight 93, flew toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a Pennsylvania field, after passengers fought to regain control of the plane.
“For those who were old enough, they remember where they were and the incredible details about that day,” said Col. Chris “Wolf” Hammond, during his opening remarks. “For those like me, who were already in the service, that day changed who our enemy was and characterized our Service from that point on. We have been at war ever since.
“For those who joined after, it was a call to arms,” he said. “With 19 years passed, Airmen and Soldiers are entering our services who were born after the events of 9/11. But I guarantee you it factored into their decision to join.”
Colonel Jennifer “Falcon” Phelps, 8th Mission Support Group commander and keynote speaker at the ceremony, left participants with two points.
“Remember and be ready,” Phelps said. “Every single person here has a responsibility to be ready. The first responders who showed up at roll call, guard mount or shift change early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, had absolutely no idea what that day would bring. They had no idea. But they had to be ready, and they were.
“Remember why you serve,” she said. “Remember the first responders who are still suffering today from the after effects of being in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The attacks took the lives of 2,977 people, from 93 nations, and injured more than 6,000 people. It is the single deadliest incident for first responders in the U.S., with more than 400 lives lost from New York City alone.
Hammond spoke about the victims and the selfless sacrifice of first responders, along with the support of allied countries. He also mentioned the years that followed the attacks.
“We are grateful to those who gave their lives in pursuit of a world free from violent ideology and terrorism,” he said. “It is because of their efforts that a similar tragedy has not occurred on US soil since.
Following the ceremony, Wolf Pack first responders gathered to march and perform a stair climb, to honor the lives lost on 9/11. Upon completion, the service members rang a fireman’s bell, which was originally used to commemorate a fallen firefighter.
“There’s a lot going on in the world today,” Phelps said. “Your tasks are clear. Know your job, trust the people to your left and right, and move toward chaos, move toward that emergency, when other people have to run away.”