Sather AB remembers 9/11

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Josef Cole
  • 321st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
More than 100 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and civilians participated in a two-mile sunrise ruck march Sept. 11 here.

The purpose of the event, which included a flag-folding ceremony, was to honor those who were killed on 9/11. The attacks were perpetrated by hijackers who intentionally crashed two planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; crashed a third into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and a fourth into a field near Shanksville, Pa., before it could reach its intended target in Washington, D.C.

"The flag (folded during the ceremony) is actually being presented to (the wing commander) on behalf of the Sather Air Base Honor Guard and then will be presented to a fire department in New Jersey, to be passed on to the surviving members of 9/11," said Master Sgt. Jeff Gideon, from the 447th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron.

During the ceremony, Gen. Anthony Rock, the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing commander and director of the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air, reminded participants about what commemorating 9/11 is all about.

"On the 10th anniversary of Sep. 11, 2001, we're out here celebrating American freedom, but more importantly we're out here to remind ourselves that the reason we serve is so Americans can live free of fear, Rock said.

"We want to be here on the front lines of freedom so Americans can be back there in our nation, never afraid to go to work in two very tall towers, a five-sided building on the banks of the Potomac, or to fly over a Pennsylvania field. So, never again will we be attacked on our homeland. We know we serve in the forward locations so that we're free from fear back home," he said.

Since 9/11, countless military members have fought in overseas contingency operations around the globe, such as Capt. Mark Schoenbeck, assigned to the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron.

"There was some special significance for me," Shoenbeck said. "Since 9/11, I've been fighting the War on Terror -- this is my third deployment in it. My second was to Afghanistan. I was tasked in lieu of, as a U.S. Army officer, and I was further imbedded into the Afghan National Army.

"(During the march) I was remembering all of those thoughts and feelings that I had from Afghanistan; Soldiers that gave the ultimate sacrifice and the higher calling that I answered when I raised my hand and said I would defend this nation."

For others who participated in the event, thoughts of friends and family, both here and at home, were foremost in their minds.

"(For me,) it's about the camaraderie of people that are here, that are deployed in other locations, for the families back home, to show support for them even if they never know we're actually doing this," said Lt. Col. Margaret Romero, 321st AEW, the chief of the Directors Action Group. "It's just being there in mind and spirit for them."

In his closing remarks Rock said, "To all the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, civilian -- both contractors and government civilian -- I say thanks for your service. Ten long years into this war (and) we know it's not over yet. We'll never be able to tell exactly when it's over, but we'll continue to serve as our nation's sentry, its sword and shield, its avenger. I just remind everybody that we're out here with just one goal in mind -- we will never falter, and we will not fail."