21st anniversary of 9/11: Team Mildenhall Airman shares memories of Sept. 11

  • Published
  • By Karen Abeyasekere
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

“I was around 5 years old when 9/11 happened. At the time, I was in pre-school and home-schooled when I lived in St. John’s, Michigan.

I remember being in the living room when my mom got a phone call; she became very frantic and turned on the TV in the living room to watch the news. One tower had just been hit by a plane. My mom gasped, was in shock, and sat down on the couch. The news reporters were calling it in and my mom was starting to cry, as we watched when the second plane hit the Twin Towers.

Even though I was only 5, I could understand that what was happening was really bad and it was something really awful, because my mom was crying, and she doesn’t cry for no reason.

I remember watching the towers collapse into each other. It felt really sad at home because my mom had friends who worked in one of the towers, and she was very concerned about if they were missing, or if they were one of the people who didn’t make it out. For my family, it was more about if the person we knew who was working in the Twin Towers got out or not. We found out that later that my mom’s friend Jack, who had been working in one of the towers, did not make it out alive, but another friend, Renae, who was working in the Pentagon that day, survived. She had been on lunch and was luckily not in the building at the time it was attacked.

In the time that followed the attacks, my family felt afraid and wanted to feel more secure, so having the adjustments our country had to make with security at airports and different places, and having those extra steps taken for our own national security meant they were okay with that.

Every year, 9/11 is a day of remembrance and to reflect on what it did to our society. At school we studied it, learning about the terrorist groups and what happened, who was impacted, the attempt on the Pentagon and the White House, why it happened, and the sacrifices that people made in order to keep others safe.

I joined the military to help me progress more in life, to enjoy a job that I liked, but 9/11 also impacted why I joined – I wanted to be a protector and serving the nation. I had an instructor at Basic Military Training – Tech. Sgt. Mann – who explained it as when you go not just into combat, but into the military in general, you’re not attacking the enemy, but protecting your home and the people you love. He helped shape my perspective of what it truly means to serve in the military.”

  • Airman 1st Class Kate Mullikin, 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs specialist