Family impact of 9/11/01

Posted: September 11, 2009

September 11, 2001

I was driving to work the morning the attacks occurred – when word came over talk radio that a plane had hit the WTC, I, like most Americans, was shocked.  My wife and my youngest son called me while they were watching the televised reports.  The second plane hit tower two while we were still on the phone.  The first thing out of my mouth was “We are now at war.” but with whom, I couldn’t say.  My wife was stunned; my son angry.  My oldest son was away at college, so none of us could talk to him till later that day.

I didn’t find out about the Pentagon or Flight 93 crashes until later in the day.  It was a quiet and somber day at work, and I couldn’t wait to get home to hear more about what happened.  The oldest was more confused than angry.  He didn’t understand why someone would do this.  My youngest was ready to join up and not finish his senior year of high school.

My wife and I convinced the youngest to stay and graduate and even convinced him to try college for a year before joining.  It worked, at least until late in his first year in school.  He announced to us when we came to parents day late in the school year that he had enlisted in the Army and was going to become a communication specialist and a paratrooper.  My heart swelled with pride, and I felt fear for my son’s safety at the same time.  My fears were allayed for the first two and a half yrs as his duty kept him stateside.  Then he was posted to Germany (not terribly far from where I was stationed oh so many yrs ago.), and his first email to me stated he was going to war.  I admit I got more than a bit emotional when I read that.  I kept the news to myself until after my wife’s birthday, and then told her the news.

He called just before leaving and told me “Dad, I am scared.” I put on a brave voice and told him I’d be concerned if he wasn’t.  I assumed he would spend most of his time at FOB Q-West and not go on missions.  I could not have been more wrong.

Turns out he was the best comms guy in-country and was in great demand traveling far and wide from his FOB near Mosul.  That’s when they found out he could shoot very well.  He spent more time traipsing around with other units like the 101st, 1st Armored, et al.  He turned down his Combat Action Badge (CAB) because the event resulted in the loss of a NY National Guardsman, and he felt it wrong to accept an award when someone else died on what he considered his watch even though he was an SPC4.  His firstborn son was born shortly after his arrival.  He stayed in Iraq till October, 2006 – 11 months – felt much longer to all of us.  The relief my wife and I felt upon his return was palpable.  We knew he was out of Harm’s Way for good.  Then eight months before his ETS we got word from him – “STOP-LOSS”.  The stress of having a child in combat was again thrust upon us!

His second deployment was as lead scout/lead driver for the 16th STB, a Personal Security Team.  Yes, that sounded nice and safe…  He also returned to Q-West, now a COB.  I figured this tour would be a bit calmer since the surge was basically over – wrong again; Although, this tour was done without as many bullets being thrown by him at terrorists than his first tour.  That said, this tour resulted in him receiving a battlefield promotion to SGT (E5) and a Bronze Star.

We consider him a hero – he does not.  He said “The heroes are the ones who can’t come home and renew their lives.”  He had the honor of accompanying a fallen Marine, on the plane to Germany, LCPL Bruce Farrell, who gave his all in Afghanistan.

The stress felt by my family is similar to all military families, regardless if they are in Harm’s Way or training up to go.  We consider the families of our military to be heroes as well.  Hope you do to.

May God bless and keep our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and their families safe.  May God grant them peace of heart and mind, and may God bless the United States of America.

Bruce

NOTE:  I originally wrote he received a Bronze Star.  I should have written “been nominated” for a Bronze Star.  My Bad!

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Here is the link to a memorial video someone made for the young man I had the honor of escorting from Qatar to Germany. The casket pictured being carried off of the C-17 by the Marines in Deserts utes (Utilities) is the same one I looked at and prayed over for 7 hours. America needs more heroes like this one.

    (I know Army’s not supposed to say this, but who cares…) Semper Fi, Marine. Thank you.

    • Note: I inserted this comment for my son from an e-mail he sent me. I thought it important for readers to see this and to remember all who serve, and to honor those who have sacrificed themselves for us.
      Semper Fi!
      Bruce


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