I was stationed in San Diego in the Marine Corps at the time and was on my second enlistment. My sister had flown out to visit me the week prior and we were on our way to San Diego International so she could fly back home to Philly.
I remember I did not turn the radio on in my car because I just wanted to converse with her before she got back on the plane. We arrived at the airport, she checked in and we went to the terminal where her plane was supposed to leave from.
I noticed there was a huge group of people standing around one of the tv’s in the terminal so I went over to see what was going on. Somebody said a plane had crashed into the WTC. I was shocked, but not as much as when I saw the second plane crash into the other building.
At this point my sister came running over and I told her what happened. By now, everybody in the airport was watching one of the many tv’s. I remember making small talk with other people as we watched the fires burning the twin towers. I knew we were being attacked at this point and began wondering what was going to happen when I got back to base.
A short while later reports started coming in about a fire at the pentagon. A few minutes after that there was an announcement over the PA system that all flights were cancelled. My sister went to sit down in a chair and I remember her starting to tear up and asked me what was happening and seeing a frustrated and scared look on her face.
We got her bags and drove back to Miramar Air Station, where I was stationed at. She had been staying at the Navy Lodge on base while she was visiting me. I figured she could just stay there till we figured what was going to happen.
When I got off the freeway and onto Miramar Rd. there was a line of cars backed up about a half mile. The security level on base was increased and all vehicles were being thoroughly searched by the MP’s before being allowed in. When we were finally allowed in we went to the Navy Lodge and got her a room again. I remember sitting in the room all day long and watching the news, watching things get worse, and eventually watching the towers collapse.
A week later my sister was able to finally fly home. A couple months later I was deployed to Afghanistan.