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By 0615 hour, we were prepped ready to rehearse in taking down a building. This morning exercise was the result of the previous evening lessons on terrorism. My class was filled with Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force.
At 0845 to 0900 hours when the first and second jetliners slammed into the twin tower building. We were out at the range going through the shoot house with live fire. Our first reaction was that we thought the cadres were just messing with our minds to get us ready for the next exercise to come later in the evening.
1200 hour, while having lunch at the food court was when we realized the incidents was real. There were over 100 people gathered to watch CNN on the 5 tv sets of what had happened that morning. The area was silent and yes you can hear a pin drop.
As we trained throughout the day and into the early evening, we all talked and wondered how this would affect our units mission. Yes, weeks and months later our team would be sitting inside a gym with the 101st Airborne in Sigonella NAS, ready for the word go.
I didn’t contact my wife until evening around 9pm. My wife stated the military bases were on Threatcon Delta with 100% ID checked and clear zones were established with barriers for all primary buildings of importance’s. She said its just like the exercises that we went through while stationed in Korea.
I spent the last week training and headed back to McChord AFB. Upon arrival other smaller units and ours went through a week of quick and dirty “Air Marshal Training” instructed by our training cadres who were trained quickly by FLETC from Georgia.
Umbrella of Operation Enduring Freedom
From end of September to November 2001, I was pulling “air marshal” duties combined with an increase in training on close quarters and site surveying. By thanksgiving as part of the 11 man hybrid intel team we shared the gym with the 101st Airborne. Was unclear if we were to team up with the 101st, with OPSEC being at the highest level, we didn’t even know our main purpose other than intel gathering.
By Christmas our initial 11 man team had been dispersed throughout the AO (Area of Operation). I was now team leader of 2 man team working as separate cells getting instructions from higher MAJCOM at Scotts AFB staged out of Germany.
By early of January 2002 taking part in one of the highest security transport missions of high profile POW’s to Gitmo. Throughout remaining in 2002 many missions going into the xyz Stan. (Afghan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan)
Everybody has different experiences when 9/11 hit, I was fortunate that I was safe and able to come home to my family. There are others that could not and I take this moment to remember them and wish that you do the same.
Written by Jon Hines