How 9/11 impacted 4th FW Airmen's lives

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgts. Andrew Hawley and Oneika Brown
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Editor's Note: The following are stories about the experiences of Airmen on 9/11.

How 9/11 changed my life

By Tech. Sgt. Andrew Hawley, 4th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance journeyman

The story of how the attacks on 9/11 impacted my life begins at what would be the end of the horrific events on that day.

I finished out-processing during the end of my first deployment and was sleeping in my dorm room, waiting to catch my flight home later that evening. Around 4:30 p.m., one of my roommates woke me up telling me a plane hit the World Trade Center in New York. I told him to stop joking because it was not funny. He said "No, really, a plane hit the World Trade Center."

Once again, I told him to stop teasing me because no one would hit those buildings. He then told me to listen to the radio playing in the background, so I turned it up to hear it better. Just as I did, the announcer said a second plane hit the Twin Towers.

I ran out of my room and went straight to the dayroom where the TV was so I could see that what I actually heard on the radio was real. It took me a couple of seconds to realize what I was seeing wasn't fake.

The only thing I could think of was getting in touch with my fiancée to let her know I was okay. After four phone calls, I finally tracked her down and told her I loved her and would call her when I had information on when I could come home.

Nearly a week went by before flights were allowed to leave.

By the time I finally touched down in Albuquerque, New Mexico, my fiancée was waiting for me; we hugged for a long time.

We already had a January wedding planned but discussed getting married as soon as we could, given the new circumstances the country and military were in. As we walked out to her car she told me she arranged for us to get married at 5 p.m. that evening at the local courthouse.

With only her family and one friend watching, we exchanged vows. Twelve years later, we are still happily married. Out of the six deployments I have served in since, that one still stands out in our minds.

September 11, 2001 changed my life forever and is a day I will never forget.

9/11; the reason I reenlisted

By Tech. Sgt. Oneika Brown, 4th Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight superintendent

On September 11, 2001, I was on my way to work at Kestrel Heights Charter School in Durham, N.C. The radio was on and the announcer said, "An airplane just ran into the Twin Towers in New York."

I thought to myself, "What kind of prank is this?" I considered the announcement to be a practical joke because that program was usually dedicated to hoaxes.

A second later, I realized this was real news and it was serious!

There was never a thought in my mind that our nation was being attacked on our own soil.

When everything was confirmed that it was a real terrorist attack, I immediately wished I was still in the military. Yes, I was a civilian at the time of the attacks, but previously served in the U.S. Air Force for four years.

The attacks moved me to once again serve my country. Ten months later, I raised my hand and was reinstated into the Air Force.

I have gladly been here since, protecting this great nation through five deployments and 16 years of service, and will continue to do so for as long as I am able.