I was in the Army and stationed in Germany on September 11th. Earlier in the day I had a feeling it was going to be a bad day since I ruined my good boots in the motor pool. Then later, I was with a few people in my company in the barracks moving beds around since we were getting some new people in soon and needed the space. One of the guys came running down the hallway with the keys to the rooms and said we had to lock up immediately and go to a formation. “What, why? It’s the middle of the afternoon.” He said, “I don’t know, something about planes in New York.” I was really confused, what did planes in New York have to do with a formation? Off we went to the motor pool and our commander was pretty choked up when she gave us the news. I was in shock, I kept thinking, “There has to be some kind of mistake, it can’t be the twin towers.” By the time we heard, we knew it was an attack, and we started wondering how long it would be before we got sent to war. One of the guys on my team got a phone call from his wife who was in the states with her family and that is how most of us found out about the towers collapsing and the Pentagon being hit as well. I remember that guy later saying, “I’m pissed, they can’t do this to America!”
They told everyone to go back to home and call their families, to see if everyone was okay. I know I called home, but I don’t exactly remember what I said because I was still so shocked about it. There were people in the barracks crowding into rooms with TVs and watching the news. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it, so I didn’t see everything until a few days later.
A few hours after we were sent home, we all got called back and told to bring our body armor. I knew after that things would always be different. We had to wait around until we got guard duty schedules in order, and even then the first two shifts didn’t even have weapons. We were not prepared for this kind of thing, we are now though. They also marched us over to dinner chow and I remember the TVs in there were off and it left everyone to just imagine all that was happening.
I was on the second guard shift, so I had no weapon, I was tired from being up all day and got maybe three hours of sleep before pulling guard. After our shift was relieved, we were in the back of the truck going back to the post and the line for vehicles was so long that we were told to get out and walk back because it would be faster that way.
When I finally did watch the news it was Saturday, and they were still playing the whole thing over and over. I didn’t really break down about it until I saw the replays of the people jumping out of the towers, and the people looking for their loved ones. I think it took so long because I was trying to figure out if our unit was going to war or not.