A Ham Radio Operator’s Experience of September 11

Date Submitted: 07/15/2002
Author Info: Dan (Shelton, CT - USA) 
Occupation: Other
Lived in NY on 9.11.01?: No
Knew someone who perished?: No

I don’t think any of us could have imagined when we woke up on the morning of September 11 of the carnage and devastation that was about to take place. I know during that morning my mind was on working at the Western Connecticut State University Weather Center in Danbury, Connecticut (about 60 miles from Ground Zero). I think scarier still, is that one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center flew almost directly over Danbury, and 60 miles is a very short distance for large jets like those used in the September 11 attacks.

Nonethess, that Tuesday morning began like any other. I woke up around 6:30 AM, and began my commute to Danbury. Every morning I talk a group of fellow Ham radio operators who happen to commute to work at the same time talk over the Naugatuck repeater.

I arrived at the Weather Center in Danbury to hear that one of the towers had been hit by a plane. At first one would think it was a tragic accident, but once the second plane hit, then logic determined that this was no accident. When I heard that another plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania, my only thought was how many more planes were in the air being used as missiles.

It was quite difficult to complete the work shift that day, and listening to the ham radio on the drive home really hit me. As part of being an amateur radio operator, one is trained in handling emergency communications. We train by holding traffic nets, Skywarn sessions, and Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) practice nets. I never imagined that at one point all of this training we did would come down to the real thing! The Naugatuck repeater was jammed with amateur radio traffic, people passing messages over the ARES net and Western Connecticut Traffic Net in order to check on friends and family in New York, or those in New York sending messages to friends and family to let them know they were alright.

At first I didn’t believe what was happening, but by then end of the day when I got home, I could only think about what tomorrow would bring.

Prior to September 11 I was considering joining the U.S. Air Force after I graduated college, but the attacks and their aftermath made me reach a quick and firm decision on joining the Air Force, for my country.



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