September 11th started out for me on the other side of the world while on deployment. Working the night shift, I was getting up and preparing to get a shower before starting my day. A T.V. set was on in the berthing and I saw the first images of a news report on CNN explaining that a plane had just struck one of the twin towers. As I stood there in the quiet of the compartment, I saw the live feed of the second plane hitting the 2nd tower and then I knew that this ordinary cruise was over and that for the first time in my Navy career, that my skills were going to be put to the test and used in real operations as a response to this barbaric act.
I remember walking through the corridors of the USS Carl Vinson going to my workcenter thinking of what to say to the younger guys in my shop and seeing the disbelief and anger on the faces of those I saw as I made my way through the ship. What stuck out in my mind the most was hearing one female sailor crying to her friend about how tomorrow was going to be her birthday and that we were going to war. At that moment I was filled with a desire to set her straight about what just happened and remind her that a great many of her fellow Americans wouldn’t be celebrating another birthday ever again and to suck it up. I never know why I didn’t do that, but figured that was her way of grieving and dealing with the situation at hand.
My thoughts went out to my family on the base and to prayers for their safety in the coming days. Later that night, I set out to writing a series of letters to my wife, kids and to my parents to let them know that I was safe on the carrier and ready to do my duty for my country.