News: Residents of Joint Base Balad remember
Story by Sgt. Jessica Barnett
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq— September 11, 2001, will always be a day of prayer and remembrance for the heroes and civilians that were killed in attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on Flight 93.
Residents of Joint Base Balad, Iraq, attended several events throughout the day in remembrance of those who lost and/or gave their lives on that unforgettable day.
The events kicked off early in the morning morning with a 5K walk/run at Holt Stadium, organized by the JBB Force Support Squadron. The first 200 runners and 25 walkers that crossed the finish line received commemorative T-shirts.
“Being that I am from Brooklyn, New York City, this run in remembrance of 9/11 means a lot,” said Capt. Richard Smith, Logistics Civil Augmentation Program officer, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Brooklyn, N.Y., native. “I knew a lot of people that were in Manhattan the day it happened, and a lot of my friends and childhood classmates helped out at ground zero, while I was stationed in Germany.
“There are different ways for people to remember … As soldiers, airmen, Marines, and [seamen], being overseas, this is our way to mourn the past and celebrate the things we have accomplished from then to now,” added Smith.
Shortly after the run, service members and civilians gathered at the fire station for a ceremony to remember the rescue workers who were killed while responding to the attacks.
“Of the 3,212 people who died in the attacks, 343 firefighters and 60 port authority and New York City police officers were lost,” said Senior Airman Mathew Naquin, the narrator for the event, a firefighter with the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, 332nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, and a Houma, La., native. “These men and women laid down their lives while attempting to save the lives of others.”
During the ceremony, soldiers and Airmen paused for a moment of silence, while a bell was rung to traditionally honor those who died while serving that day. After the moment of silence, the flag was lowered to half staff where it remained for the day.
“It is my fellow brothers that have fallen,” said Naquin. “It’s just a way to pay respect to all our fallen heroes and our future heroes. It’s something that I believe in, that I’m passionate about, and it’s the least I can do to honor my fellow firefighters.”
At noon, members of the 103rd ESC gathered in the Sgt. Audie Murphy Room at the Oasis dining facility for a prayer luncheon. The luncheon began with the national anthem sung by members of the JBB Community Chorus. Prayers were offered for the fallen and those left to remember them. Brig. Gen. Mark Corson, commanding general of the 103rd ESC, and a Maryville, Mo., native, spoke to those who gathered about the importance of the day.
“It is appropriate that we take this time on Sept. 11 of every year to remember all those who suffered so grievously on that day,” said Corson during his speech. “We are not finished, and thus I leave you with the thought that we must continue to sacrifice, and as they said in Vietnam, ‘Charlie Mike’: Continue the Mission.”
Service members and volunteers gathered in the afternoon at the United Service Organizations building to pay tribute to the heroes that serve back home. A memorial flag was signed and will be sent back to the states to let them know they are not forgotten.
“As we stand here and remember the fallen of 9/11, we also continue on with our current mission here in Iraq,” said Col. Christopher Craige, vice commander of the 332nd AEW, and a Falls Church, Va., native, during his speech at the USO. “It is a mission that, in some ways, was borne out of the 9/11 tragedies, but a mission also that allows for hope in the future – a hope for a better Iraq, and stability in a challenging environment. Let us never forget the sacrifice and honor of those here in Iraq, and let’s never forget the sacrifice and honor of those on 9/11.”