9/11 Part One
While on a flight from Orlando to Seattle on the 10th of September, 2001, I just finished convincing the young college age girl sitting next to me that there was no reason to fear flying in a commercial aircraft. This conversation was a result of her expressed misgivings about going back home when it took a lot of courage just to get on this particular flight.
Later, as we approached Seattle, Mount Rainier peaked to our left side and was very clear. I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures of the majestic snow-capped mountain with a camera that automatically added the date. Rising above sea level at 14,409 feet, it is the highest mountain in the state of Washington.
I was on my way to Fort Lewis with a briefing scheduled for September 11, 2001, to members of the 7th Infantry Division, one of the units designated to field the new Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. After landing in Seattle, I made the drive to a nice hotel just outside the main gate entering Fort Lewis. I settled in and had time to run a couple of miles around the area before turning in for the night.
As I prepared for the next day in the early morning hours of 5:45 AM, I turned on the news and was surprised to see a breaking story about a plane flying into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. I continued to prepare for the day, arranging my notes, drinking some coffee, and following the story on television. I was a Captain in the Army at the time, a Project Director for the Simulation Command and wanted to make a good impression on some high-ranking officers that would no doubt be present for this briefing about the new transformation between the instrumentation connectivity from their Stryker vehicles to the Joint Readiness Training Command facility at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
My thoughts were suddenly distracted by the rising voices of the news commentators as they just reported a second passenger airliner flying into the other tower. I knew then that my new objective for the day would change from training to a real life mission. Glued to the set as I continued to finalize my drive onto the post, news came from Washington DC about a third aircraft flying into the Pentagon. As suspected, all pre-planned activities for the day at the Army base were canceled.
My next agenda was to find a way back home to Orlando, which in time and effort, I did. I also was able to see an old Army buddy that I hadn’t seen since 1982. When I finally arrived home in Orlando, nearly a week later, I had my photos developed and immediately noted that the date on the camera was set 24 hours ahead of time for all of my pictures. When I admired my shots of Mt. Rainier, I couldn’t help but notice the orange glow at the bottom of the photo, which read 9/11.