September 11, 2001, Remembrance Thread

| September 11, 2021

The Twin Towers burn after being hit by hijacked airplanes. (The Associated Press)

Today is the 20th Anniversary of terrorist attacks that involved aircraft flying into buildings and innocent people losing their lives. For many of us, the memories associated with this day will be with us for the rest of our lives.

I was on PCS leave this day, and along with millions of Americans and viewers from around the world, was glued to the TV and other information sources. I received a call from the ship that night. The person I was set to relieve informed me that there was a possibility that my leave would be cut short and that I may have to report early.

Washington DC was already considering an Afghanistan invasion, and our ship was on the planner. We didn’t get pressed into service for Operation Enduring Freedom, but were turned around right after a deployment the following year to be a part of the invasion fleet for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

What were your memories of that day?

This event woke many Americans up to the geostrategic realities that were not previously considered. However, as with the case with the Pearl Harbor bombing, the further back this day slid into history, many started to forget.

“The Falling Man”. (New York Times/You Tube)

Here are some videos related to the event from two decades ago.

9/11: The moment the world changed 20 years on | Under Investigation:

Audio involving first responders, air traffic controllers, etc.

Calls from those trapped in the towers:

The falling man:

There are other videos, these are just a selection.

Category: Open thread

Comments (44)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Frankie Cee says:

    On my Birthday,as I turned 61, September 12, 2001, the Daytona Beach newspaper headline read:
    AMERICA’S DARKEST DAY

    • Sparks says:

      Happy Birthday tomorrow Frankie!

      • Frankie Cee says:

        Thank you, sir. I have been reflecting on the mixed emotions that I went through 20 years ago today. My son and I had been planning a BBQ for my upcoming birthday, but with this event, we cancelled that, and watched things unfold. I was in shock, as were most of my friends. My birthday, the next day, just took a back seat.
        May the memory of that date and event never leave us. Most of us “Learned all we needed to know about Islam on that day”.

  2. Hack Stone says:

    Getting ready to go work. Day 1 of a 6 day work schedule that started at 13:00. Just got out of the shower when I got a call from my brother asking if I was okay. I worked in The Pentagon. Our team immediately deployed to an undisclosed location for about a week.

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    Got off the bus and went to a small restaurant to get breakfast. Someone, some customer, came up from the cafe in the lower level, sobbing and yammering about “all those people”. Asked her what she meant, and she said a plane flew into a building in NYC.

    I went down there, saw what she meant on the TV, went right over to the building where I worked, across the street from an extremely tall bank building, and asked the people at the desk there if they’d heard about an attack on NYC, and they said “Yes, and we’re closing the transit walkway from here to the bank.”

    Went to my department and asked my boss what to do. She said she was waiting, but likely we’d all be sent home. 10 minutes later, we were told to go home.

    Got home in time to see the twin towers collapse.

    What was happening in my country?

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      ALL OF the hijackers were MUSLIM and let’s not forget that shortly after the attacks Osama Bin Laden released a video in which he claimed that attacks would cease if Americans converted en masse o islam. IMHO islam is the religion of violence and terrorism.

  4. 26Limabeans says:

    I was traveling up I-95 from Bangor to my camp and stopped in at
    the local convience store where it was on the tv.
    Probably passed the hijackers going the other way after they
    crossed the border at Houlton and drove south to Portland.
    “if only I knew” still haunts me.

    God comfort those lost on that day.

  5. Fyrfighter says:

    I was walking out the back door of the station, just coming off shift when my wife called me and said a plane hit the World Trade Center. thinking it was a light plane / bad pilot, I ran back upstairs, and changed the channel on the TV (guys had on sports center, and cursed me for changing the channel) I watched with the on-duty crew as the second plane hit. At that point, there was no doubt it was terrorism. I drove home, and got there just in time to see the South Tower collapse.

  6. President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neanderthal B Woodman Domestic Violent Extremist SuperStraight says:

    Post retirement (1998), at work (Utah), on a short break, saw the planes crashing into the WTCs, screaming at the TV. Continued to watch after my break ended, work was forgotten for awhile.

    May all the hijackers and their enablers roast in hell, skewered on the barbed cocks of Shaitan.

  7. OldManchu says:

    Sitting in a large multi-state company training in Tennessee. I was with a group of 5 from our shop in Texas. We were on a break when the first plane hit. People watching in the lobby of the hotel conference area and briefly in our rooms. Just as we gathered from the break to resume training the second plane hit. Silence…. our elderly corporate trainer began to weep. He formally ended the week long training and groups all began looking for rentals for our trips home, knowing the planes were grounded. The shock came in the lobby areas as the towers fell. From my hotel room window I watched multiple planes being landed at the airport. A day later we managed to find a minivan rental for the trek back to Texas. Wanted to re-enlist but I was fresh under a DUI charge waiting my day in court. That has haunted me ever since.

  8. Old tanker says:

    I had been retired from the Reserves for just over a year on 9/11. I heard the news while getting ready for the day. I spent the day, after calling the wife, watching the tube hoping they had gotten everyone out.

    The next day I called MILPERCEN and asked if I could come back out of retirement. Any assignment, anywhere, either of my MOS’s (Armor or MP). All I got was laughter. I was told if I had been an E5 to E8 they could use me but they had more than enough O5’s running around then the clerk hung up. I hated being stuck outside not able to contribute.

    About 6 years later I got a call saying they could use me but I had blown 2 discs in my back by then and there was no way I could pass the physical according to them.

  9. Mason says:

    My alarm went off to the usual local radio morning show. Through the haze I could tell they were talking about something happening at the World Trade Center. When the crew isn’t there they replay old “best of” episodes, and I was trying to figure out just why the hell they were playing one from the WTC bombing eight years ago.

    The second tower had just been hit. They were piecing together that this wasn’t a freak accident of one plane. I launched up and turned on the TV to see both towers burning.

    I had a business meeting to go to and listened to the towers falling on the radio. We cut the meeting short and I went back home. By then the Pentagon had been hit, Flight 93 had crashed, and all air traffic over the US had been grounded.

    I’d just a few weeks before gotten a new dog. I remember sitting in my bedroom watching the tragedy, hugging the dog as I cried asking “Why would somebody hate us this much?”

    I told my mom that night that I was enlisting. A year later I was in basic training.

  10. OWB says:

    A bad day. A very bad day.

    Heard about it on the local radio station which was on in the background as I prepared some training docs for a class I was giving that week. Managed to get the TV in our conference room turned on to see the second tower hit.

    Mission changed immediately. I was the only one working in our section that day so I determined the availability of each member of the section to do whatever we were called upon to do. Got myself and my section chief assigned to direct support of the Guard Bureau and others as was appropriate. And spent much of the day helping other sections recall off duty members.

    We were evacuated from our building multiple times that day for what turned out to be inbound aircraft trying to land, as they had been ordered to do. It was all very confusing.

    One of the most poignant memories I have of that time was being on active duty and hearing from civilian friends that they were jealous because I had a job to do, just went about doing that job while they sat wringing their hands trying to figure out what to do. Very strange to be counseling them and making suggestions how they could contribute to the efforts.

  11. STSC(SW/SS) says:

    I was at work when a co-worker told me a plane struck on of the twin towers in New York. We started watching the TV and saw the second plane strike the other tower. From there watching the horror of the towers collapsing and wondering who in the hell did this and then I then remembered the 1993 attack and like a flash I knew exactly who was responsible.

    A lot of Americans will not remember that day because they don’t care or were not born yet and schools will not teach the real history behind the attack.

    To the people of New York State and especially the folks in New York City you can go to hell. This happened in your backyard yet you still elect people into office who will not hold these people responsible. You helped elect a corrupt feeble minded racist pedophile into the oval office who got thirteen of my brothers and sisters in arms killed in our hasty retreat from Afghanistan.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Second tour in Korea. We were prepping for an exercise and a buddy called. “If that’s the scenario, it’s f*cking lame,” I complained. “No, really, turn on the TV!” he said…

  13. 26Limabeans says:

    My brother was off on a business trip so I called his wife to make
    sure he was ok. During the call I mentioned that I always hoped their
    son would not see war. She got angry and said “Oh No! That’s not for us!
    I knew she was a flaming liberal but that declaration made me sick.
    To this day we still have a class of people who feel they are above duty.

    • Mason says:

      A very liberal (gets XMas cards from the Obamas and Clintons liberal) shirt-tail relative one time encountered me in uniform on my way home from drill. We talked for a bit and she asked if I was “Going to have to go over there.” This was ~2006.

      I told her I’d volunteered a few times and they haven’t needed me. She was aghast. She could not wrap her head around why I’d volunteer to go to war. Her husband had hid out in college deferments to avoid the draft, so it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that she felt that way.

      This was a couple years after she had openly and verbally professed a desire to “Round up all the Republicans in a stadium and just kill them all.”

  14. David says:

    Driving into work I heard about the first plane, told my office mate after the second one hit that it was terrorism. So much bad and conflicting info that morning – the White House was hit, State was hit, the Pentagon was leveled, who would have thought of using a plane? (maybe 20 million Tom Clancy readers?) etc. My niece was near but not involved, in a taxi 2 blocks away. The worst for me was a year later…sitting in the surgical waiting room as my dad was undergoing heart valve surgery while they played “Taps” over and over repeatedly. Bad juju.

  15. ArmyATC says:

    I had just gotten to sleep after a night shift in the tower. My wife burst into our bedroom, waking me and talking about abuilding on fire. She turned on the TV and I saw the WTC north tower burning. The news folks were saying an airplane hit it. I was thinking, “That can’t be,” after seeing the crystal clear blue sky. No airplane could accidentally hit a tower that big in such clear conditions. It didn’t take a career as an aircraft dispatcher and air traffic controller to note that something wasn’t right. Then an airliner hit the south tower. My shock slowly turned to rage at news of the Pentagon attack and seeing desperate people throwing themselves from the WTC. The next day I walked into a recruiter’s office and enlisted after an eighteen year hiatus.

  16. Only Army Mom says:

    I was getting ready to go to work, heard talk radio going on about NYC Twin Towers, half paid attention, thought, Is is the anniversary of the bomb in the garage? Realized this was something happening right now, turned on the TV. The phone rang, I was standing there, watching as the second plane hit. I screamed and told my friend on the phone who was on their way to work to turn around and go home because we are at war.

    Called my family, told them pack for a few days and get to my house, now as she lived in the city and I lived way out in the boonies. Called the office and said I was coming but would be a bit late. Let my kid go to school because, again, way out in the boonies.

    Went to the office and spent 18 hours (with a side trip to get my kid from school and deliver him home to my family) taking calls from frantic people stranded all over the US and world who were trying to get home. By the end of the day, we had set up a spreadsheet of where people were and connected them to each other so together they could rent a UHaul or buy a car, any car, and start driving.

    I can’t tell you how many people that first day couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact the world had just changed forever, and that we were at war.

  17. Hack Stone says:

    What’s the over/under on how many times Biden will be checking his watch at the various memorial services today?

  18. Ret_25X says:

    I flew out of Newark to Paris, France on the night of the 9th of Sep.

    I had left AD 4 months earlier and just gone to my first reserve drill in Aug.

    At work in Paris building a fiber facility, the security guy comes into the building telling us we should go watch the news, so we went across the road to a coffee shop and watched the news about 9/11 on Sky News.

    I was the only American on the crew. The rest was South Africans and Brits. The SA guys all looked at me and said “America will go to war” while the Brits disagreed.

    Anyway, the company called us that night and told us to stay at the hotel until further notice. The French moved a unit in the guard the hotel (we were in a place at La Defense Place) and we spent 2 weeks sort of in stand by mode while everyone figured out what to do.

    3 months later I was on my way to Camp Doha, KU…and a month later we were in AF. Part of a 2 year mobilization that took me to AF and IZ…

    got demobilized in Dec 04 and Called back up in June 05, said eff it and reupped to AD…

  19. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I was in Northern Indiana delivering a load of insulation and after leaving the dock, I parked and turned on the radio to kill time awaiting my next load. I tuned in to a talk radio station and was listening to the commentary about the Twin Towers falling, thinking “WTF is this, a modern day “War of the Worlds?”, it was after that that I turned the TV I had in my sleeper on and saw the video of it, still in complete and total disbelief. It was after that when I re-upped into the NG and got myself a couple of tours in the litterbox.

  20. Here goes that day. We were supposed to deliver foreign currency to Bk of America at 1 WTC but due to DTC at 175 water street having priority, we were supposed to make the later pickup. While driving over the Manhattan bridge from Brooklyn, I was sitting on the left hand side of the truck and Jose was on the right and I happened to glance out the window and saw smoke coming from the building and what looked like a large horizontal gash running across which was the wings I found out later. Jose’s Mom calls him and says that an airplane hit the trade center. We get off the bridge and going through Chatham Square China Town and there was a break between buildings and I jumped on Jose’s lap just as the second plane hit blowing a large fireball out the other end. We make it to Depository Trust Company at 175 water st. which took the materal and during that time, the first tower collapsed. The driver jumped onto the FDR Drive going north on the southbound lane and we got off and went to the Mid town tunnel and back to Brooklyn where the second tower collapsed while we were in transit. The crew that delivered the currency to 1 WTC made the delivery and they were in the bathroom a few floors down from their delivery stop when the plane hit so all three went down the staira with two crew members getting to the staten Island ferry and the third went up to his Moms aptartment on the west side. The 4th person Joey Trombino was the walker whom the crew was supposed to drop off in lower Manhatten so he could make deliveries on foot. The office calls Joey and tells him to drive the truck out of the underground truck parking and Joey couldn’t start the truck so dispatch tells him just to get out of the building on foot and Joey tells them that he wanted to wait for the other crew members whom were already gone and Joey didn’t know this. His remains were found 3 months later among other victims remains. The serial numbers on his handgun were traced so he was Id’d that way. Capt Terry Hatton and FF Kenny “Igor” Marino of FDNY Rescue 1 never made it out. Terry’s remains were found and Id’d from his scott air pack.
    RIP: Capt Hatton FDNY R 1/LBFD ladder 2362, FF Marino FDNY R 1/LBFD Engine 2342.
    Post 9/11 LODD
    FF Billy Quick FDNY R 4/Squad 288, LBFD Tower ladder 2372, FF John Elgis FDNY Ladder 15, LBFD Tower ladder 2372, Richie Wentz NYPD, LBFD Engine 2344
    Mike Ormauer Nassau County Fire dispatcher and LBFD Floodlight 233.
    Brinks Co worker Joe Trombino. The above FDNY and NYPD members were also Long Beach Fire Dept Vollies.

  21. Mike B USAF Retired says:

    I was at work as an Air Reserve Technician in an AFSOC unit, as soon as the second plane hit the towers. We were told to start inventoring our mobility pallets, getting our personal affairs in order etc. We were placed on unit orders so we could get spun up. 2 weeks later our unit received Presidential Activation Orders, 2 weeks after that we were airborne heading to the region and into history. 3 or 4 days after we landed, we launched a major Joint Special Operations assault, what we would call hit night, we were officially at war, and we had front row seats.

    Today I’ll spend my time in quiet reflection, remembering those who died this day, and friends I would lose along the way. I will wonder if I’m worthy of the life I have, that they paid for with their lives. I won’t be watching any of the 9-11 documentaries on TV. I guess as an old shit now, I understand why my dad a Vietnam vet didn’t watch certain movies, or uncles who were WWII vets didn’t watch WWII movies.

    My flag is at halfmast, I’m looking at units coins and hats I swapped my unit hat and coins for. The original owners didn’t make it home alive, I’m the keeper of those little mementos, that keep their memory alive beyond their families and friends.

    My God continue to watch over the ones who died and those left behind, and may we never suffer another 9-11. May we never forget those lost and may our enemies never forget the might of our military.

    God bless everyone, stay safe, never forget!

    • by any chance were you stationed at Cannon AFB in the mid 70’s ?

      • Mike B USAF Retired says:

        Nope, didn’t come in until Jan 86 and was medically retired in Sep 2008.

        I did almost end up at Cannon as an Air Force Brat in 75 when we left Spain, but at the last minute they changed my dad’s orders to Mountain Home. A year later he got orders to Okinawa.

    • President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neanderthal B Woodman Domestic Violent Extremist SuperStraight says:

      Mike B
      Late to this, so I hope you read this: all those hats and coins you have, write up a card (or 2) on each one, with names, dates, places, incidents, as much detail as you can remember, so that when you pass on to that Big Zoomie in the Sky, all those momentos will be properly taken care of and cherished, and not just thrown away because no one knows anything about them.

      • Mike B USAF Retired says:

        Already done, my oldest son has a love of military history like I do and recommended the same thing on all the memorabilia I have.

        I know one individual I have the hat and coin of, has a building named after him at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey.

        I’ve actually thought of reaching out to them and seeing about donating the items for display there.

  22. Berliner says:

    Worked nights at a Washington State USPS plant. I hand sorted the mail to the carriers in 3 zipcodes that the machines rejected. I was finishing up with my ear buds in listening to a music station when they interrupted with the news. I passed the info on to a supervisor who listened and made an announcement to everybody.

  23. I was at Teterboro airport for the beginning of a big week for a company management conference in Colorado, we helicoptered over to TBA from MMU are home base to make for a shorter drive from NYC for those pax’s that were not being helicoptered to the Gulfstreams that were also moved over to TBA. Anyway I was on top of the S-76B wiping some hydraulic fluid off the race car MGB cowl when I watched the 2nd plane hit, we were watching the smoke from the 1st tower but didn’t know a airplane hit it we just thought it was a bad fire from our perspective at the time, the 2nd plane we witnessed and the buildings collapsing removed all doubt as to what was actually going on

  24. KoB says:

    Had just switched the TV Set from the training videos we’d been suffering thru back to the Antenna. Watched as the 2nd plane went into the tower while the first one was burning. Called higher to inform them and dispatched technicians to the various remote Central Offices and cell towers for security. Told my boys that I knew were NG or Reserves to call into their units. I’ll give this much to Bell South. All of our people that were sent in still drew their regular pay from Ma Bell while deployed.

    Ironically I had made mention while at a wedding in August with some libs that the next terror attack would be airplanes into buildings. They said I was a crazy conspiracy theorist.

    Never Forget!

  25. Mick says:

    I was on the flight schedule for a night flight on 11 September 2001, so I was still in the rack asleep when all of this started that morning. Mrs. Mick woke me up and told me to start watching the news. I saw the second aircraft hit; it was clear that it was intentional.

    The rest of the day is now a blur. No one knew what was happening; no reliable intel was received at the squadron level, and contradictory orders from HHQ were arriving at the cyclic rate.

    What’s the threat? Do we load ordnance on the aircraft and get ready to launch? But if we launch, where do we go, and what do we do when we get there? Who is in charge of the air “picture”? And so on and so on and so on.

    The primary feeling in the squadrons at the time was one of extreme frustration. We all wanted to get in the aircraft and go do SOMETHING, but no one actually knew what they wanted us to do. It was maddening.

    RIP to all of those who perished, and condolences to all of those who still grieve.

    Semper Fidelis.

  26. I forgot in my above comment that yesterday I get a phone call from my former Brink’s co worker Jose who decided to call me and talk about that day. sometime after 9/11, he gets called to go to the NYPD Acadamy to become a PO. He went to transit and now has his twenty in and will work one more year and then pack it in.

  27. USAFRetired says:

    I was an instructor in the Training Squadron and running Stan/Eval. Our squadron commander was flying that day. He was an interesting guy had started his military career as PFC USMCR and had used that to pay his way through college. After getting his degree he went to USAF OTS got commissioned, went to Nav school and started his career. Our training sorties typically had 30-35 souls on board with instructors and students.

    Some body stuck there head in the office and said an airplane had hit the WTC. I got up walked across to the ORC ( Ops Readiness Center) and looked at the TV, first tower is burning. I offered the comment that during WWII someone had flown a B-25 into the 80th floor of the Empire State Building. About 2 minutes later the talking head on the TV mentioned the same thing and some of the young airman looked at me like I was an all knowing dinosaur. I’m looking at the picture and it is a pretty blue sky with damn good visibility. The B-2 had been flying during a foggy night. I keep my mouth shut but the wheels are turning. We have a crew Planning for tomorrows sortie, so we keep pressing on with the routine. I was staring at the TV when I saw the second plane hit. I immediately announce this is not an accident, and I tell folks to go break out the THREATCON checklists (now FPCON) and start running THREATCON Delta as it is only a matter of time before it will be declared. Sure enough in a couple minutes we get the word.
    Some of us old farts began discussing how long before someone declares ESCAT and/or SCATANA some of the youngsters looked like we had grown horns. Those of us who had prior experience with NORAD during the cold war remembered these two acronyms (Emergency Secure Control of Air Traffic) ESCAT and (Secure Control of Air Traffic and Navigation Aids) SCATANA. We’d seen them simulated in exercises but have never seen them in reality. We get the word from the Command Post that all the days missions were being recalled and that afternoon/evening flights were cancelled.

    Our squadrons mission lands early before noon and we bring all the folks in and they debrief their mission/students and we fill them in on what’s going on. Not necessarily in that order. My Squadron/CC sees me as he’s getting off the bus and said he’d gotten the strangest radio call from Center informing them that “ The National Airspace is closed and they are to land as soon as practical” He described it as eerie.

    We were the first of the non-AWACS/Air Defense units cleared to resume flight operations and we began flying missions starting with going to work with Ft Bragg to do a little mutual training. While we weren’t much use for air defense we had a tremendous communications suite on board so we had capability to coordinate with lots of folks. We got in a JTIDS/Link 16 net with the AWACS flying IVO DC and saw their air picture and monitored the SATCOM with NORAD and rolled the AWACS comm plan into spare radios to listen in. I still remember the fellow who went airborne in his bug smasher a couple days before the airspace opened up and watched the intercept over the data link. The put LEO ground teams at multiple airfields along his route of flight so when he finally landed he had a welcoming committee.

    When they announced the opening of the airspace and resumption of commercial flights CSAF sent an all personnel e-mail telling folks not to travel commercially in uniform as it might make them a target of terrorist on board airplanes. My thoughts were YGBSM. Rules had changed targeting individual members domestically seemed to be a busted paradigm. I fired off an e-mail to my commander opining that I bet the Marine Commandant wouldn’t do something like that and the traveling public would probably feel a little better knowing military folks were onboard.

    • Mason says:

      I was always an aviation buff. The lack of air traffic for those few days was so unsettling. What only made it worse was every 45 minutes or so we’d have a pair of ANG F-16s flying their CAP mission go overhead.

      Being a post-9/11 enlistee, aside from the flight leaving basic, I never got to travel in uniform. Always wanted to since my dad said you’d get upgraded to first class and free drinks.

      I always told my shop super that I wanted to wear our uniforms. We were on one flight and this slick sleeve Army E-1 gets on, right out of basic. Judging by haircuts, there were like a dozen of us military on the flight in civvies. This E-1 gets a first class seat and is treated like royalty by the attractive stewardesses. I tell the super, “See, now you show up with six rows of ribbons and seven stripes down your arms, that could have been you!”

      • Mike B USAF Retired says:

        How I remember the days of HAVING to fly in uniform pre 9-11.

        Post 9-11 in 2002 while coming back from Uzbekistan, I had a seat right at the aircraft entrance and one of the flight attendants was chatting with me during loading, she asked if I was military and coming home fron downrange at one point. She asked to see my boarding pass after I told her yes, chatted with another attendant and gave my pass to her. She returns with it a few minutes later. The flight attendant I’ve been talking to informs me I’m being bumped to first class, thanks me for my service, and informs me she’s working first class BTW. I told her I was with 3 other guys, and they got them upgraded also.

        Our flight was late getting off. The flight attendant asked me what our connecting flight information was. The pilot called ahead and had our connecting flight held. We were met at the gate with a courtesy vehicle that took us to our next flight.

        Once we boarded that flight, there were 4 empty seats right next to the door. We sat down and the plane pushed away. The pilot apologized for the delay, and announced that the 4 tardy passengers were coming home from the desert and that when we arrived at our destination, for everyone to remain seated and to allow us to disembark first. Following up with they’ve been gone from home a hell of a lot longer than any of us have. His final remark was directed at us with “Welcome home and thank you for your service”. A few minutes later he announced we were cleared for take off……Home was just over the next horizon now……

  28. Sea Dragon says:

    I watched it all getting ready for work, and then on the tv in the library next to my office. I paced the hallways all day, getting nothing done. I had been a civilian now for thirteen years, but I spent the next two years figuring how to get myself back in. Served another 10+.