FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan – Despite hundreds of people around, the silence was deafening in an area where one would normally cringe at the noise.
On the flight line here, troops stood silently in formation, paying their respect to the thousands whose lives had been taken since Sept. 11, 2001.
Lt. Col. Christopher Albus, the commander for Task Force Wings, 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, delivered a speech to the soldiers, many of whom were in grade school at the time, thanking them for their heroism and bravery to come to the aid of their country after the tragic events.
“Our American spirit is defined by our innate ability to reach out and help others, even in times of unthinkable crisis and unfathomable odds,” Albus said. “Just think about the courage of our policemen and firefighters who rushed into burning towers to bring thousands to safety. Think about our Pathfinders who selflessly man the perimeter at [Battle Position] Osman when they’re under attack or the medevac crew who launch in poor weather to rescue a wounded soldier or civilian. Think about our [AH-64] Apache crew chief, on his third deployment, working the night shift to provide our aircrews safe aircraft or our Workhorse soldiers alone at the [forward area refueling point] at Al Masaak to provide quality fuel for our scout weapon teams. Our American spirit is defined by our ability to move forward in the aftermath of overwhelming loss, even when it seems easier to quit.”
The ceremony to commemorate the 10-year anniversary was somber, remembering more than just the people who perished on that dark day in history.
“It’s not just remembering that day; it’s remembering everyone we’ve lost along the way because of that day,” said Spc. Michelle Wilson, a medic for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, TF Wings, who was 13 years old then.
Wilson, who was homeschooled, had just turned on the news for her current events class as the events were unfolding, she said.
“My dad forced us to turn the television off about three hours into it,” she said. “I was the oldest of the homeschooled kids, and he realized it was an overload for the younger kids. We turned it off and discussed it a few times. We went on with dinner and let the kids talk to get it expressed in their own way. The next day, my older sibling and I watched it all the next day. I didn’t really grasp what was happening that first day. It took a few days for it to sink in.”
Wilson said the events she witnessed that day, mixed with an influential number of family members in the military, played a large role in her decision to join the Army later. She’s definitely not the only one.
“Some of our soldiers here were in grade school when this happened 10 years ago, and yet they’re here today to do their part for our country, for the things we believe in,” said Capt. Steven Mosher, the communication and network officer for Forward Operating Base Wolverine. “The victims of 9/11 weren’t the end. They were the beginning. Thousands of soldiers have sacrificed – we’ve all made sacrifices – being away from our families, injuries, financially or whatever – we’ve all made sacrifices to do what we believe in.”
Service members everywhere have made sacrifices in one way or another, and for various – and perhaps numerous – reasons. Mosher’s reasons are clear.
“I feel like I owe something to those folks who lost their lives that day,” he said. “And to the people who have lost their lives since – the soldiers.”
Patriot Day is a day to remember – painful for some, necessary for all.
“I think it is good to remember,” Mosher said. “I don’t think anybody in the military, no matter how old they are, is in danger of forgetting why we’re doing what we’re doing. If we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it.”
Wilson said Sept. 11, 2001, was a wake-up call. Because there had not been such violence on U.S. soil in so many years, Americans had grown comfortable, thinking it couldn’t happen.
Sept. 11 was a wake-up call that continues to remind Americans what is important.
“Let this memorial service provide all of us with a daily reminder to take nothing for granted,” Albus said. “Appreciate your freedoms. Count your blessings. Strive to help your fellow man. Cherish your friends and families. Let this serve as a reminder of the American spirit which burns in all of us – that way of life which makes this the greatest nation on Earth.”
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This work, Forward Operating Base Wolverine commemorates 9/11 attacks, by Jennifer Andersson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.