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NAS Pensacola Remembers September 11, 2001

Lindsay Myers

Moments of silence, prayers, hymns and remembrances were held Friday, observing the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. One of them was held aboard NAS Pensacola.

The 40-minute observance in the Naval Aviation Museum’s atrium was attended by a number of civilians and uniformed military personnel representing all five service branches. Base commander, Capt. Keith Hoskins, bid them welcome.

“Today we take pause to remember nearly 3,000 men, women and children who were lost in the attacks of September 11,” said Hoskins. “How we remember that day is a testament of our resilient American spirit. We honor those lost.”

Part of that, says Hoskins, is the commissioning of three new Navy warships: the USS New York, USS Arlington, and the USS Somerset – named in honor of those who died in the attacks.

Three guests shared where they were on September 11, 2001 and how their lives were changed. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Sean Redmond was in the Navy on 9/11, serving as an air traffic controller at NAS Kingsville, Texas. He received orders from the F-A-A to divert or land all approaching aircraft.

“I walked into the radar room to find my friend, Dave Key, and our radar supervisor Tex, sitting in front of blank radar scopes,” Redmond said. “It became obvious at that point that the three of us were looking at something that nobody had ever seen before and that we would never see again – perfectly operational military radar scopes with no aircraft targets.”

Navy Chief Matthew Cuppernoll was in basic training when the attacks occurred. He says there were mixed feelings among his fellow recruits, as they watched the events unfold on television.

“Some of our shipmates talking about having family that lived down by the [Twin] Towers, and that they wanted to talk to them and make sure they were OK,” said Cuppernoll. “And others talking about ‘This is why I joined the Navy – to go out there and serve my country and fight the fight.’ The feeling I got was ‘I can’t wait to get out there and serve my country.’

Josh Pickard served in the Navy aboard a ship that was sent to the Arabian Sea shortly after 9/11, to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom. He’s now a firefighter aboard NAS Pensacola.

“Ladies and gentlemen, 14 years ago we lost 2,977 people – including 343 firemen [and] 55 police officers,” said Pickard. “I believe we as a country came together on that day as one team, one fight. And we all understood that evil is real, but love and sacrifice can overcome all.”

After the singing of the Navy Hymn, it was time for the two-bell ceremony – a Navy tradition that honors those falling in the line of duty. Presiding was a member of the Fire and Emergency Services Gulf Coast.

During the ceremony, Capt. Keith Hoskins quoted former President George W. Bush, the words printed inside the event program:

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America there will be no forgetting September the 11th.”

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.