MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Fourteen years have
passed since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Service members around
the world look back on that horrible day and remember exactly where they were
and what they were doing when they heard the news. The younger generation to
enlist and serve may be too young to remember the tragic events but still feel
the weight of 9/11 on their shoulders.
That tragic day, two planes crashed into the World Trade
Center towers, one into the Pentagon and one in the fields of Pennsylvania,
killing nearly 3,000 people. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed before reaching
the terrorists target in Washington, D.C., because of the heroic actions of
passengers on board.
Sgt. Maj. Paul T. Davis, the Sergeant Major of Marine
Aircraft Group 31 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, clearly remembers
the events that day.
“At the time, I was a drill instructor at Marine Corps
Recruit Depot Parris Island,” said Davis. “I remember the day. The recruits
were in the base theater receiving a class from the bank. I went next door to
the Exchange and saw it on the TV. I thought it was a movie that was coming out
soon, until I realized it was live news of the attack.”
As a Marine, Davis knew that this attack would affect him
directly and that the years ahead would be long and difficult.
“I was very upset,” said Davis “It also made me realize and
understand how important it is as a Marine to be combat ready.”
The Marine Corps would go on to play critical roles in
Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, calling more and more
Marines to the battlefield.
“It stretched the Marine Corps thin with back to back
deployments,” said Davis. “It also proved that we are still the most deadly
force in the world. I believe our role has not changed. It has only increased.
So have our capabilities.”
Some Marines have no recollection of the attack but grew up
in a nation at war with an often unknown enemy.
Lance Cpl. Phillip Colleman, an administrative clerk with
Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard MCAS Beaufort, was too young to
understand what was happening on Sept. 11. All he knows is the fourteen years
of aftermath changed this country forever.
“I remember all the heightened security at airports and
sports games,” said Colleman. “It doesn’t seem like there was as much attention
to those concerns before the attack.”
Colleman grew up with images of terrorism and war on the
news eventually inspiring him to enlist in the Marine Corps.
“It seems like Marines are always in the position to do
something about terrorism,” said Colleman. “I wanted to be part of the solution
and to make the world a safer place to live.”
Looking towards the future, both Davis and Colleman are
optimistic about the continued safety of the nation.
“A lot has been put in place since 9/11,” said Davis. “The
FBI, NSA, State Department, and CIA have all stepped up their game along with
the Marines. If the call is given we will continue to go do what we do best and
be the world’s protectors.”