PHILIPPINE SEA (Sept. 11, 2010) – The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) hosted a remembrance ceremony for the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the ship’s mess decks.
The event, attended by served to honor those who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93.
Nine years ago, terrorists hijacked four commercial airlines, crashing two of them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Both buildings collapsed, claiming 2,606 lives, including passengers on board, citizens going to work that day and the rescue workers trying to save them. This was the largest single loss of life on American soil.
“May we all remember those who lost their lives that day and continue to honor them with our thoughts, prayers and our service.” said Chief Fire Controlman (SW/AW) Joshua Patat, master of ceremonies for the event.
Sailors and Marines shared personal stories regarding their experiences with the tragedy. Fire Controlman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Yondale Coston recounted learning of the loss of his stepfather, who worked in the towers.
“We were having dinner around that time and someone came down and told me that a plane had been flown into the World Trade Center,” said Coston, of Newark, N.J., who was serving on USS Enterprise (CVN-65) at the time. “I put my tray down and went up to my shop just in time to see the second plane crash into the second tower on CNN. At first, I honestly couldn’t believe I was watching this. My stepfather worked in the towers
and was on his way to work that day. My mother and aunt were on their way as well, but never made it due to two flat tires. Unfortunately, my stepfather was not so lucky.”
Marine Staff Sgt. Anthony Antista of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit told about how the attacks influenced his decision to come back into the Marine Corps after separating.
“My last year in the Marine band, I played on top of the World Trade Center,” said Antista. “It’s a moment I took for granted. I remember looking out the windows and feeling very proud of our nation – not just one majestic tower but, two. I was out the Marine Corps for two-and–a-half years and then Sept. 11 happened. I decided to go to the recruiting office. They wanted me to go back in the band as a sergeant. I wanted to go infantry. They said I’d have to go in as a corporal, but I said ‘good to go.’ Here I am today as a staff sergeant, two combat tours with Third Battalion, Seventh Marines.”
Additonally, Cpl. Jeremy Skidgel shared how hearing about the events and a close friend losing his father inspired him to join the military after high school.
Cmdr. James Johnson, Essex’s command chaplain, concluded with a speech reminding those in attendance of the effects the events had on the nation and the meaning of what it is to serve in the military after them.
“You may never fully know the impact of your service and sacrifice, but 9/11 is a horrific reminder of what the world might look like if you and the person beside you did not serve. Yes, we dare to remember,” said Johnson. “We are here to honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001 by making sure those who organized such evil will not be allowed to visit it upon ours, or any other country, ever again. We are here to protect and defend, whatever the cost.”
Essex, commanded by Capt. Troy Hart, is part of the forward-deployed Essex Amphibious Ready Group and is on patrol in the Western Pacific region.