By Lt. Col. Paul Fanning and Maj. Richard Goldenberg Guard Times Staff NEW YORK CITY Even as the World Trade Center towers were crashing to the ground and dazed survivors were being carried from the rubble, members of New York's Army and Air National Guard were already on scene working with civilian emergency responders.
Even as the disaster was unfolding, New York State's Commander in Chief, Governor George E. Pataki ordered thousands of troops across the state onto State Active Duty to provide direct support to local authorities. Within hours the number of troops at "ground zero" - the World Trade Center disaster site, at designated logistical and support sites and at armories and air bases had swelled from the hundreds to thousands.
New York City area troops, including those who were also New York City police officers and firefighters, were already on the job working under incredible conditions trying to save lives. Members of the "Fighting 69th" Infantry rushed to their Lexington Avenue armory, which is only blocks away from ground zero and was later designated a reception center for families of the missing. From there, the soldiers went directly to the scene. At least five New York Army National Guard Troops and two Air National Guard members are listed among the missing or killed at ground zero.
The hundreds of troops from the 69th Infantry were soon joined by other troops from the various boroughs. Tankers from the Staten Island-based 1st Battalion, 101st Cavalry and cannoneers from the 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery from Queens and the Bronx, along with troops from the Queens-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry were among the vanguard of the Guard's joint task force. These troops were reinforced and supported by troops from the Binghamton-based 204th Engineer Battalion, the Buffalo-based 152nd Engineer Battalion and Air Guard men and women from the civil engineer squadrons from the state's five Air Guard bases.
At the helm was New York's 53rd Troop Command Headquarters, based in the Westchester County community of Valhalla, just 30 miles north of the city. Forward command and control came from the Guard's 107th Corps Support Group at the Park Avenue Armory. This unit is the direct descendant of the famed Seventh Regiment - the unit that gave the Guard its very name.
Additional supporting command and support units included the 369th (Harlem Hellfighters) and the 206th Corps Support Battalions, the 145th Maintenance Company and the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion. The 105th, 107th and 442nd Military Police companies deployed, as well. At its peak, more then 3,500 Guard troops were serving in the New York City area.
"It's just amazing the way everyone is coming together here to get the job done," said Sgt. Gerald Coia with the 105th Military Police Company, providing security in lower Manhattan. "Whether it's a mix of Guard troops or NYPD, everyone has just one thing in mind - helping out," he said.
The troops performed a number of missions. At the beginning, troops worked on the rubble pile with civilian emergency responders, trying to locate survivors. After the first 48 hours the troops shifted to perimeter security, local traffic control and logistical, life support and administrative support tasks at the request of city officials. These missions continue to date.
Confusion Gives Way to Unity
The first hours and days following the terrorist attack were often chaotic and confused as unit leaders organized soldiers to respond. "In the first hours following all this, I managed to get through to Capt. Vince Heintz, our C Company Commander who works just blocks away from the World Trade Center," said Maj. Robert Marchi, executive officer of the 105th Infantry. "All he could relay to me on his cell phone was that the site was 'pure bedlam. There are 20,000 heroes hard at work here', he told me." "It's just amazing the way everyone is coming together here to get the job done" For many of the responding members of the National Guard, the sight of the devastation was both intense and personal, especially since so many Guard members from the initial battalions at the scene live and work in New York City.
"The only comparison I can make is to the movies, and somehow that doesn't feel right," said Spec. Rockefeller Bandhu, with second platoon, C Company, 1-105th Infantry. "Looking over the devastation here, I just can't believe this was man-made. It looks worse than anything I could imagine," echoed Spec. Brian R. Stearns, from the 105th Military Police Company's third platoon.
Capt. Heintz and C Company formed a security perimeter around ground zero and assisted the local incident commander in providing security and access to the site. "From day one, this has been a security mission for the company," said Heintz. "The only thing I can compare it to is the civil disturbance missions we train for."
If Truly Committed, Join the National Guard Across lower Manhattan, similar missions were undertaken by the 69th Infantry, the 101 Cavalry and the 1-258th Field Artillery soldiers. The entire lower portion of Manhattan had a distinct look and feel of destruction.
"People describe the area here as a war-zone," said Staff Sgt. Brian E. Papanu, from the 105th Military Police Company. "Let me tell you, our company spent nine months in Bosnia and there is just no comparison. This was simply an attack upon civilians, not a combat action in a war," he said.
Just days following the Guard's response, the National Guard provided an additional asset to New Yorkers reeling from the attack. The Lexington Avenue Armory, home of the "Fighting 69th" became the city's center for family assistance to the more than 5,000 victims of the Twin Towers collapse. The drill shed floor immediately filled each day with hundreds of family members looking for information, counseling and assistance from the city.
"There was a dramatic difference in how things look depending on where you stood in lower Manhattan," said Sgt. Maj. Miguel A. Cruzado, senior enlisted soldier of the 1-69th. "There, (at ground zero) our soldiers are focused entirely on their mission. Soldiers are like that, looking at the job they have to do and keeping their attention on it. Here at the armory there is the human factor with family members and loved ones looking for information and hope," Cruzado said.
By the end of the second week, state officials ordered the Guard to transition from crisis mode to sustained emergency response. Mayor Rudolph Guiliani explained that recovery efforts could take up to one year for the city and operations shifted to a sustainment mission. EvenGovernorPatakiacknowledged that the outpouring of support had reached a climax and encouraged Americans to do more than donate blood.
"So many want to volunteer , so here is what I would tell them," Pataki said in an interview with MSNBC news days following the attack. "You can join your local volunteer fire department or your Red Cross and Salvation Army efforts in your community. Or if you are really committed, you can join the National Guard. The Guard has had thousands of members here working side by side with the city's emergency responders," Pataki said.
Exhausted troops were furloughed and replaced on the line by fresh upstate units. The Headquarters of the 42d Infantry Division (Mechanized) based in the upstate City of Troy, deployed to replace the Headquarters 53rd Troop Command as the forward command and control force on the ground. Known as the Rainbow Division, the 42d is comprised of units from eight states and the division headquarters is configured and staffed to support sustained operations.
Relief Mission a Joint Mission
Alongside Rainbow soldiers were a significant number of airmen from the New York Air National Guard, Naval Militia, and New York Guard, in their largest mobilization for security missions since the First World War.
"This is truly a joint operation," said Brig. Gen. William Martin, the Deputy Adjutant General during one of his visits to see the task force in lower Manhattan. "It is unified and synchronized. It is great to see that joint operation and see it working so smoothly. It is the way this nation fights today and it is working right here in New York City," he said.
"In our initial response to the attack, the fight was about individual soldiers making decisions that made things happen," said Brig. Gen. Joseph Taluto, Deputy Commander of the 42d Division. "That was responsive and that worked for the City of New York. With the arrival of the Rainbow Division and its staff, we are able to sustain the fight into the future ," he said.
The Rainbow headquarters is well prepared for this type of assignment based on past support to civilian authorities in such emergencies as a devastating ice storm in New York's North Country in January 1998 and a destructive tornado which struck near Albany that same year. Since then, the Rainbow Division headquarters also achieved great success at a series of Army Warfighter Exercises at Fort Leavenworth, KS over the last several years and is slated to take over command of U.S. forces in Bosnia in 2004.
"Nowhere else can you sustain the command and control for supporting these types of missions and forecasting the needs of tomorrow, our deep battle fight, better than in this division headquarters," Taluto said.
Even as the mission at the World Trade Center continued, new tasks were assigned to the New York National Guard. These included the assignment of more than 400 troops of the 27th Separate Infantry Brigade (Enhanced) to perform security missions at 19 commercial airports and four separate nuclear power sites around the state. The 27th is fresh from a deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA last August. Additional New York troops were assigned security duties at New York's Grand Central and Penn Station rail stations and at tunnels and bridges around the city.
Even now, the New York National Guard remains poised for follow on missions to support Homeland Defense as airmen and soldiers mobilize from across the state for Operation Noble Eagle or continue their support to civil authorities.
Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Maguire, Jr. The Adjutant General SGLI Expands to Include Spouses, Children WASHINGTON, DC (American Forces Press Service) - The Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance plan will also cover troops' spouses and eligible children beginning Nov. 1.
The Veterans' Opportunities Act of 2001, signed by President Bush last spring, allows for up to $100,000 coverage for spouses and $10,000 coverage for each child. If the service member has SGLI coverage of $100,000 or more, maximum coverage for the spouse will be automatic, and premiums will be deducted along with the member's premium from each month's pay. If the service member carries less than $100,000 coverage, however, the spouse's coverage can be no higher than the member's, Navy Capt. Chris Kopang explained.
"For instance, if the member only had $50,000 in coverage on himself, he can only get $50,000 for his spouse," said Kopang, DoD director of compensation. He added that spouse coverage must be elected in $10,000 increments. Premiums will be based on amount of coverage elected and the spouse's age.
Spouse's age Rate per $1,000 Maximum Monthly Premium Under 35 $.09 $9 35-44 $.13 $13 45-49 $.20 $20 50-54 $.32 $32 55+ $.55 $55
Coverage for children up to age 18, or 23 if a fulltime student, is free and automatic, so long as the member is participating in SGLI, Kopang said. Eligible Reserve component members will receive the same family-member coverage with premiums being deducted from their drill pay, he said.
Service members will be able to decline or reduce spousal coverage, but officials are still working out the details. "Opt out" procedures and updates will be posted to the SGLI Web site at www.insurance.va.gov/sglivgli/sglifam.htm.
Kopang cautioned service members to think carefully before opting out. "Members may sometimes feel they don't need life insurance for a spouse, especially if the spouse doesn't work outside the home," he said. "However, look at the cost of providing childcare, a nanny perhaps, or other things that contribute to maintaining the home. These are costs service members don't always realize they'll have."
Eligibility for spouse and children's coverage would end if the member terminates coverage, separates, retires, dies, or if the couple divorces. However, spouse coverage will extend 120 days past the date eligibility ends.
"That will give the spouse the opportunity to convert their policy to a commercial policy," Kopang said.
Spouse coverage can be converted to commercial policies when the service member separates from the military, but cannot be converted to the Veterans' Group Life Insurance plan.
Former Secretaries Push for Further Base Closures
WASHINGTON, DC (American Forces Press Service) - A group of former defense secretaries signed a letter to Congress calling for another round of base closures. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has called for another round of closures beginning in 2003. The legislation, called the Efficient Facilities Initiative, is part of the DoD budget request for fiscal 2002.
The letter, signed by all the living former defense secretaries save Vice President Dick Cheney, underscores the need for further base closures. The signers are William S. Cohen, William J. Perry, Frank C. Carlucci, Caspar Weinberger, Harold Brown, James R. Schlesinger, Melvin Laird and Robert S. McNamara.
"While we understand the sensitivity of this effort, our support for another round is unequivocal in light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," the former secretaries said in the letter. "The Defense Department must be allowed to review its existing infrastructure to ensure it is positioned to support our current and evolving force structure and our war fighting plans."
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission last announced closures in 1995. Since then, DoD has determined it has between 20 percent and 25 percent more infrastructure than it needs. Rumsfeld has said the money the department spends on this infrastructure could be more useful helping transform the U.S. military.
The former secretaries, many of who fought similar battles to close excess installations, agree. "We are concerned that the reluctance to close unneeded facilities is a drag on our military forces, particularly in an era when homeland security is being discussed as never before," the secretaries said. "The forces needed to defend bases that would otherwise be closed are forces unavailable for the campaign on terrorism."
They also said money spent on the unneeded installations takes away from equipment modernization.
Few thoughts have dominated pub lic and private consciousness more than the September 11 terrorist assault on America... and New York.
As we enter the fourth month and another season since that pristine, blue-skied, tragically flawed day, my own thoughts time and again return to a psychological sort of Ground Zero. They are with the thousands of Army and Air National Guard 'citizensoldiers,' airmen and women, sailors and Marines-some activated virtually within moments of the attack-on-the-job, doingthe- job in the World Trade Center (WTC) rescue, relief and recovery effort.
"This is about New York. This is about us. It is not only America's war, but New York's war, in the most visceral way"
The Guard Times edition you are now holding graphically describes, in words and photographs, the myriad of missions our troops have been performing since the first TV images of the hijacked passenger planes, slamming into the North and South towers of the WTC, seared themselves into the public psyche.
The "9-11" War, as some news media pundits have already trivialized, is truly the Pearl Harbor, the JFK Assassination, the Watergate Scandal-like defining event of America's first 21st Century generation. But with one HUGE difference. This is about New York. This is about us. It is not only America's war, but New York's war, in the most visceral way.
I saw a sign in one of the shop windows, one of hundreds of patriotic messages on display, not far from Ground Zero where our New York National Guard troops have walked foot patrol, side-by-side, with the heroes of the NYPD and the NYFD. It read: "I LOVE NEW YORK...NOW MORE THAN EVER!"
As of this writing several thousand of our troops lean forward on active duty in a variety of statuses. The range of support our members are providing across the board, directed by Governor George Pataki or President Bush, are as broad and rich as the great ethnic mosaic that makes up both The Big Apple and the Empire State.
In addition to around-the-clock security and vehicle inspection support at key Manhattan transportation points, our troops are deployed as part of OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE at 20 airports, from JFK and LaGuardia to Niagara Falls International, providing high visibility security, as well as security support at the state's nuclear power plants.
In addition to maintaining already stringent Air Force Expeditionary Force annual training requirements, our Air National Guard bases are providing air base security as well as strategic and tactical support and logistics to a number of ongoing OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM missions, here and overseas.
Our Counterdrug program is working with the U.S. Naturalization and Immigration Service, the Border Patrol and the Customs Service in a variety of vital support missions to civilian agencies.
Our honor guards have participated in dozens of funerals and memorial services for the NYFD, NYPD and other victims of the WTC attack.
Working in tandem with the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO), we have forged a solid working relationship with the New York City Office of Emergency Management and a host of other agencies which should prove helpful and productive as America's quest to solidify homeland defense unfolds.
Inevitably the question arises, particularly from the families and loved ones of our soldiers: how long will we be involved? The answer is always simple. It is as long as we will be needed. It can be no other way.
And invariably the answer, too, will hinge on the individual level which dictates that we must, ultimately, rely on the dedication, training, stamina and will of our members. I know that steel-hardened mettle is there now. It will be for the future. And for this I am immensely proud.
Until today, the unreal prospect of visiting "ground zero" troubled me. I have watched or heard stories of our fellow Guardsmen experiencing traumatic effects because the sight of such destruction is so personally moving.
Civilians and fellow citizens are drawn to the WTC site and it is most difficult to judge what draws them. A cynic would observe people drawn by some dark or macabre purpose, or some peculiar need to feel a connection with an historic event. Maybe they hope to be on television.
I am convinced that most people come and many Guardsmen volunteer for this duty because they need to find a catharsis for this terrible event that has disrupted the normalcy of our lives. Ground zero has almost a sacred mystique if only because of the horrifying realization that the innocent victims are interred inside the rubble.
After the disaster the media already speculated what would become of the property. It is my wish that a memorial be built. I believe a memorial is a spiritual necessity and an aid for all those who will wish to visit "Ground zero." It would be appropriate to commemorate the fallen and those who must live on after this threat has passed.
What should be speculated is how grand a memorial should be created. I believe that it should be no smaller than a battleship, in particular the USS Arizona, which today inters the remains of the victims of the last attack on America at Pearl Harbor.
I think that would give me some solace, a focus on which I could respectfully say prayerful good-byes to those losses of September 11th, 2001 Staff Sgt. Terry M. Staub HQ, 42nd Infantry Division.
They came to my home to bring me down, And used my children from all around. The hurt in your eyes, the scars of the land, All seems to be more than I can stand. I am stronger now than they thought I could be, Sons and daughters, all races and creeds, can always depend on me. My symbol, the FLAG, of red, white and blue, still waves for all of us to see, I am filled with pride when I see so many flags in honor of me. My sister, LADY LIBERTY, still stands Giving Hope to the people of this great land. So beautiful is she to see, I guess you really do LOVE me. My brother, the EAGLE, soars above my skies With tears in his majestic eyes. His piercing cry echoes in the wind As he sings his song of one man's deadly sin. They made one very large mistake, you see, No one hurts my children and uses them to get back at me. Mow it's my turn to show my strength and devotion to my people of this Great Land. Like any mother, I am not perfect or without mistakes. I a m, however, now and will always be, there for my children. So with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, Write to my children to say: "You are STRONGER than you THOUGHT, You are more LOVING than you KNOW, You are more UNITED than you DREAMED," Always remember your brothers and sisters that you lost. Make them proud, God has more angels to help us now, and help we will need in the hard times ahead, But GOOD will prevail over Evil, and PEACE will once again be had. -- Jacqueline Gegoire, September 11th, 2001
Hunched over. Sadness. Tiredness and Exhaustion. Sweat pouring down their dirty, wet face and hands. Shirts drenched with sweat from lifting up the scrap and debris from the enormous piles that were made when the buildings collapsed. Hoping to find just one alive, one who made it through all this time. People tell the rescue worker that there is no hope, but he still drives on to prove them wrong. The adrenaline going through his veins as he lifts up a piece of broken and melted steel. Looking to see if anyone is there. When he sees that the space is empty, he cries, knowing that there may be no one left alive, but still he drives on. Submitted by Private First Class Jason Kirkman HQ, 42nd Infantry Division
By Staff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta 138th MPAD NEW YORK CITY A vast open space, acres across...a crazy terrain of twisted metal and crumbled, bone-white concrete glaring brazenly in the sun. Free-standing building facades , like skeletal, multi-eyed giants, loom over the scene, which is cloaked in a bitter, burnt, gray haze. Welcome to ground zero.
Before the dust settled, the New York Army National Guard was at ground zero, working side by side with New York City firemen and other rescue workers, slowly sifting and removing the rubble, bucket by bucket, from the ruins of the World Trade Center.
The soldiers were distinct against the rolling, apocalyptic landscape in camouflage and Kevlar helmets, but like the other rescuers, they were dusty and laved with sweat. Like everyone else, they worked solemnly, their expressions hidden by the dust masks they wore. Their eyes and furrowed brows, however, attested to the gravity of their task, and their stern determination to carry on.
This horror and determination are expressed by soldiers like Spec. Jim Thompson, who, in true, minuteman-style, stopped by his unit's Armory in New York City the day of the terrorist attack. A medic with D company, 1st Battalion, 101 Cavalry from Staten Island, Thompson worked in a temporary morgue near ground zero.
"It's rough to move the bodies," Thompson said, "because they're fellow New Yorkers. It hits close to home." However rough the task at hand, Thompson remained resolute. "I want to get out there and start digging," Thompson said.
New York City native Sgt. Melvin Garcia, Headquarters Company, 101 Cavalry, New York Army National Guard, found part of a leg and torso while working at ground zero.
"All I thought about was getting it out of there," he said.
Once a member of an Active Army medical unit, Garcia said he saw gore, but not at this volume. "I'm a medic but it sickens me," Garcia said. "When I found the body part, I spent an hour trying to spit the smell out my mouth...I couldn't think of what else to do."
Garcia's horror, though, was eclipsed by his feelings toward the terrorists. "More than anything, I'm angry," he said.
Second Lieutenant Adam Headrick, First Battalion, 69th Infantry, surpassed media cliches about ground zero, which he described as "beyond surreal."
"Surreal is something you can dream. You can't dream something like this," Headrick said.
Building and wreckage instability sometimes sent soldiers and other rescuers range walking, or in the worst case, fleeing from ground zero. Though working on little sleep, Headrick said these many harried evacuations kept him awake.
"I'm not tired right now," Headrick immediately after one evacuation. "There's nothing like that for an adrenaline rush."
Headrick said he saw no end to the crisis and was merely living in the present.
"Bringing people together [through this crisis] is great, but there are better ways to do that than thousands of people dying."
"It's not only my duty-it's for the redemption of my city, state, and country." Personnel working the crater were pulled back to join other soldiers performing cordon security around ground zero. The 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry had been conducting cordon security throughout the crisis and was relieved in place by 204th Engineer Battalion on September 16.
Based in New York City, the battalion was mobilized and on the scene September 11-the very day terrorist attacks felled the World Trade Center.
"The majority of our soldiers are New York City natives," said Maj. Jose Obregon, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry. Obregon said the battalion was relieved because it had reached the end of its rotation period.
"My understanding is that we'll be rotated back through [ground zero cordon security] if the mission calls for it," said Obregon. He added that the soldiers took direction from the New York City Police Department.
"Cordon security entailed keeping any personnel that were not rescue workers out of ground zero," said Obregon. "We basically kept the crowds to a minimum."
New York City Police Officer Pete Esposito worked with soldiers of the 69th Infantry, and said crowds have been friendlier to the soldiers than him, because they see him everyday.
"The people are more responsive to the Guard," Esposito said. "They respect the guard more."
Pvt. Weston Lather, New York Army National Guard, said the destruction of the World Trade Centers was a national crisis. "This is devastating, not only to New York City, but the country itself," Lather said.
Though he hurt himself lifting debris, Lather was focused on carrying on. "It's not only my duty-it's for the redemption of my city, state, and country."
By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell National Guard Bureau NEW YORK CITY Gene Hoffman could be sitting this one out. He had, after all, put 12 years into the New York Army National Guard before getting out in mid-August. He had done his peacekeeping bit in Bosnia for a few months in 1999 with New York's 442nd Military Police Company. It was time, he figured, to focus on his wife and two young sons and on his job as a retail manager for Sears in Hackensack, N.J.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on his homeland, however, convinced the 32-year-old Hoffman that he had to put his uniform back on. So he again became Specialist Gene Hoffman a few days later. He caught up with his outfit in the twisted, smoking rubble of lower Manhattan that used to be the towering World Trade Center. That is where 6,333 people were missing nine days after the twin towers collapsed, said New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Sept. 20.
Hoffman resumed his traditional Guard soldier's role as one of the "Protectors Of The Empire." That is the Orangeburg-based 442nd MP Company's motto, and there was no doubt in Gene Hoffman's mind that the Empire State, as well as the rest of the country, needed protecting.
"My family's and my friends' freedom has been threatened," said Hoffman through his respirator as a heavy rain soaked the stricken city on September's third Thursday, his third day at "ground zero." "That's when you have to become the soldier you've been for the past few years."
Hoffman is hardly the only American to be caught up in the wave of patriotism that has swept America since three of the four hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and spawned a new emphasis on Homeland Defense.
Army National Guard recruiters nationwide have received many more calls than usual from people expressing an interest in signing up, said Lt. Col. Michael Johnson, the acting chief for recruiting in Arlington, VA. The calls have come from those with prior military service and from those who have never served, Johnson explained.
For example, recruiters received 31 calls from prior service people on Sept. 4 and 287 calls on Sept. 18, Johnson said. Recruiters got 95 calls from non-prior service people on Sept. 4 and 250 calls on Sept. 17, he added.
A corresponding increase in interest has been reflected on the Army Guard's recruiting web site, Johnson said. Not all of those leads will result in enlistments, Johnson cautioned. But he did predict "we'll have a good month." Furthermore, more than 6,000 young men registered online for the draft on Sept. 11, USA TODAY has reported, which was three times the daily average for this year.
Although a military draft is not anticipated, men and women already in uniform are standing behind President George W. Bush's call for an all-out war against terrorism. They expect to play a critical role in the new Cabinetlevel Office of Homeland Security that Bush announced Thursday night, Sept. 20, during a speech to Congress and the nation.
Guard soldiers on state active duty in New York, meanwhile, consider the attacks on the World Trade Center as an assault on the American way of life. "The twin towers represented the ability to have a free market and the ability to build your own dreams," said 1st Lt. Sean O'Donnell, the 442nd Military Police Company's commander. "That's what's unique about being an American. We're here to help preserve that dream.
"A lot of my soldiers are civilian policemen and firefighters here in the city. This is a little more home grown for us," lamented O'Donnell, a full-time police officer in Greenwich, Conn. "I grew up Yonkers. The twin towers were part of the New York City skyline. These are not the twin towers that I grew up with."
Those MPs and other Guard troops were helping police keep the work site secure for workers who are painstakingly picking through the ruins for pieces of bodies and parts of the jetliners, always hoping to uncover survivors, before the debris is hauled away in huge trucks.
Guard soldiers from New York's Binghamton-based 204th Engineer Battalion, who were controlling access to ground zero at the corner of South End and Albany streets, on Thursday discovered a strip of aluminum that is believed to be from one of the airplanes.
"All of the rivets were popped out of it," said one of those citizen-soldiers who were pressed into security duty early into the rescue operation.
"I never thought something like this could happen in this country," said Hoffman who walked around perimeter with O'Donnell checking on the New York MPs who also harbored memories of the way things were and who expressed the hope that the World Trade Center would rise again.
The date of the attack is significant to every policeman, firefighter and search and rescue worker at the scene, including the 442nd's MPs. Numerically, Sept. 11 is 9-11, the universal telephone number for emergencies.
Staff Sgt. Frank Kopyta made no bones about why he took the destruction so personally and why he was determined to do his military duty. It had to do with a day in May, 1991, when he was an active duty soldier at Fort Dix, N.J.
The observation deck at the top of the World Trade Center's South Tower was where he re-enlisted to continue serving his country.
By Paul Morando American Forces Press Service NEW YORK CITY By training and temperament, the soldiers of the 204th Combat Engineering Battalion are builders. By ne cessity, they changed overnight into security guards where the World Trade Center towers once stood in the lower Manhattan.
The 204th Engineers, from Binghamton, NY, in recent years has "normally" set bricks and mortar and hewn lumber to build houses and schools in Central America and other projects around the world. But these citizen-soldiers learned firsthand that being National Guardsmen means taking on many roles.
"We are an engineer battalion, so it is kind of hard not being a part of the cleanup, but we have another assignment and we are very proud to be here and assist the rescue workers," said Sgt. Maj. David Lamouret, who's been with the unit for four years and is a middle school teacher in the civilian world.
"The soldiers are doing a great job with traffic control and security. Any time you need anything, they are more than willing to help out" With their trucks and cranes left back at Camp Smith near Peekskill, NY, the engineers have been at "Ground Zero," the nickname given the trade center site, securing checkpoints along the Trade Center perimeter and establishing gates of security for the rescue workers to continue their job smoothly.
"It's a lot different from the job I was trained to do," said Spec. Rhonda Rumsey, who is a carpenter and mason. "Instead of laying mortar we are checking IDs and securing the area." Rumsey said she's proud to be serving in lower Manhattan. "We have an important job to do out here and New Yorkers have been very supportive."
In addition, soldiers from the 204th escort city residents to and from their buildings, and places of work throughout the damaged area. Soldiers pull 12-hour shifts, battling fatigue and emotional distress from witnessing the disaster area on a daily basis. The surrounding streets have become desolate ghost towns with paper and ash covering cars and storefronts, which have become makeshift relief stations for the rescue workers.
For New York City firefighter Michael Kaner, who came out of retirement to help in the rescue effort, seeing the soldiers at the work site has been reassuring. "The soldiers are doing a great job with traffic control and security. Any time you need anything, they are more than willing to help out," he said. "They make our difficult mission a lot easier, and we are proud they're here."
"I am still trying to soak everything up," said Spec. Patrick Kelley, from Freeville, NY. "There are times when I become very sad, when the reality of what happened sets in." Emotions run high as soldiers, firefighters, police officers, and other rescue officials work closely together to maintain a sense of normalcy and ultimately to seek justice.
"It's not easy. This is their fight," said Second Lt. Walter Gomez, referring to the city police and fire departments. Discussing the military's involvement, Gomez added, "Our fight is about to begin and we are focused and ready."
By Staff Sergeant Steve Petibone Guard Times Staff STEWART AIR GUARD BASE Before the dust and debris settled on the remains of the World Trade Cen ter terrorist bombings, Army and Air National Guard units statewide were scrambling to mobilize their soldiers for the rescue and recovery operations.
The 152nd Engineer battalion and 827th Engineer company, hastily loaded more than 100 construction vehicles onto flatbed trucks, 350 soldiers onto buses, off-loaded three support helicopters from the Pennsylvania National Guard and deployed from Buffalo to Stewart Air Force base in Newburgh in about 12 hours after the disaster.
"We had 100 percent response to the call up," said Capt. Abner Diaz, Jr., staff officer, 152nd Engineer battalion. "Our soldiers were very motivated to do their jobs to help the victims of the disastrous attacks.
For the soldiers of the 827th , their deployment included an unforeseen obstacle; their equipment was still on the railhead in Fort Drum.
"The Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) movement had been over for about a week," stated 1st Lt. William Love, Acting Company Commander, 827th Engineer Company. "I sent a small detachment to retrieve and transport our equipment to the headquarters in Syracuse as fast as they could."
Because of the volume of city rescue workers, the engineers where put on standby at Stewart for two days. "We were standingby in anticipation of our rotation to ground zero," stated Diaz, "Everyone was anxious to do their part in rescuing any survivors."
Two days later, the engineers were sent back to Buffalo, leaving Abner and Love behind as liaisons until their units are utilized to do their mission.
"We were very eager to help and at the same time in disbelief," said Love, "Going home was tough for my soldiers, because they wanted to get on the buses to go to the city, rather than go home."
By Staff Sergeant Steve Petibone Guard Times Staff NEW YORK CITY The morning of Sept. 11 started out as another ordinary day for James A. Zucker, a senior technical writer for Salomon, Smith and Barney, Citigroup, located in Building Seven of the World Trade Center. But it would soon prove to be a day he will never forget.
Zucker, who is also a major in the Headquarters and Headquarters Service Battery, 156th Field Artillery, NY Army National Guard, was writing technical documents at his desk when he heard the sound of a low-flying aircraft. "I thought initially there was a low-level fly-by," said Zucker. "But when I heard the impact of the plane and saw the falling debris through our office windows, I knew this was a planned attack."
Before leaving his office, he was able to telephone his wife, Patricia, and explain to her what was going on. "I called her and calmly asked her to pull the car off the road," stated Zucker. "I then told her that the World Trade Center had just been hit by an airplane and that I had gotten out alive." The magnitude of the situation did not faze her until she returned home and saw it on CNN.
Getting to the third floor of his office complex, Zucker and a group of employees were looking up through a panoramic, threestory glass facade. Seconds later, they witnessed the aftermath of the second suicide aircraft's plunge into Tower Two.
"The concussion on impact from the aircraft, fortunately did not shatter the glass above us," said Zucker. "But it did blow open the first-floor doors, momentarily forcing us backwards. It looked like something out of a Steven Spielberg movie."
Grasping the severity of the situation, Zucker led his office staff in fire drill fashion, which they practiced annually, and got all Citigroup company employees safely out of the building. "The fact that our fire drills were rehearsed annually and our security guards conducted themselves professionally, helped to save lives," he said.
"My main objective was to get as many people out of the building as fast as possible," stated Zucker. "When I exited the building, I thought that going to Grand Central Station would be too dangerous if there were another attack, so I walked up to 125th Street.
Being a combat arms officer, he relied, to some degree, on his military bearing. "My military training helped me to form decisions quickly. The emphasis was not to stand still to see what was happening, but to get out and as far away as possible."
After escorting a stunned employee to her husband's office on 49th street, Zucker telephoned a colleague, Lt. Col. Frank Licameli, an assistant professor of Military Science at Fordham University. "I walked north across the 1st Avenue bridge and established a rally point," said Zucker. "From there, Lt Col. Licameli got me home about seven hours later."
Zucker's military decision-making process didn't end after he was safely home either. "That night I called all of my coworkers," he said. "Regrettably, there was an incident of a colleague of Indian decent being chased home by a crowd." In order to manage the stress, Citigroup is providing personal and group counseling sessions to their employees. "I called my staff that night and every day since the disaster."
The devastation of his work place did not diminish Zucker or his co-worker's resolve to continue to work. Zucker volunteered to be placed on state active duty and has been working with 105th commanders in Stewart's command post, helping coordinate the movement of equipment and personnel transiting to New York City.
"Before the attack, my co-workers were used to working at home via high-speed Internet access,"related Zucker. "For now, when I'm not on state active duty, I spend my time working at home or at the 34th Street office."
Zucker, a father of two young children; a son, Andrew Grant, three and Sarah Catherine, 14 months, thinks about how to explain these events to his children. At some point, he knows that he will have to tell his children about Sept. 11th.
"I'll wait until they're a little older and they find out about it on their own or learn about it in school," he said. "I'll tell them about it the same way that I learned about Pearl Harbor."
Guard Times Staff ROTTERDAM Due to the influx of generous dona tions from all over the country to support the search and recovery missions at the World Trade Center, the State Emergency Management Office designated donation centers in five locations from Rotterdam, to Westbury, (on Long Island). The centers were designed to receive, unload, inventory and redistribute donations to where they were most needed.
On September 17th, using space graciously donated by the Galesi Group in Rotterdam Industrial Park, members of the 56th Personnel Services Battalion and 4th Personnel Services Detachment began receiving donations from locations as far off as Texas, Florida, Illinois and West Virginia. Using their military occupational skills in personnel accountability, both units began the critical task of tracking the thousands of donations, which poured in from concerned citizens.
"I'm just glad to be able to help" stated Sergeant Nicholas Amberger, Cook, Battalion Mess Section.
Most of the relief supplies were destined for the recovery workers at the World Trade Center site. Donated items, such as buckets and hard hats were personalized with "Thank you's," "Our Heroes" and "Blessings." Many boxes contained personal notes to fireman, police and rescuers. The most touching was a little boy from Florida who put is baggie of pennies in the donation box.
"If you want to have your heart tugged all you need to do is read some of these messages" said Sergeant Tim Farnam, the Battalion Motor Sergeant.
On the 22nd of September, with the National Guard battle handoff complete between the 53rd Troop Command and the 42nd Division Joint Task Force, soldiers of the 56th Personnel Services Battalion and 4th Personnel Services Detachment turned over operations to the members of the New York Guard's 10th Brigade. "All soldiers were extremely dedicated to the mission," concluded Major Theresa VanCort, the Battalion Executive Officer. "I am sure there are many mixed emotions about turning it over to another unit."
By Technical Sergeant Trish Pullar HQ, 105th Airlift Wing NEWBURGH Friends and fellow co-workers in the 213th Engineering and Installation Squadron said Staff Sgt. Andy Brunn, 28, was a "solid guy." He stood about 6 foot 2 inches and 220 pounds and conscientiously maintained the fitness standards needed for his firefighting duties. They thought if anyone might make it out of the collapsed World Trade Center, it would be him.
"We all hoped and prayed. He was a strong kid. We figured if anyone would make it out, it'd be him," said Master Sgt. Joe Rizzo, first sergeant in the 213th and a fulltime lineman with Verizon.
Brunn was leading civilian workers to safety when the building fell. He was laid to rest in late September.
Brunn was a "probie" at Ladder Company 5 in Manhattan, having completed his training at the New York City Fire Academy only two months ago. His friends said he was so motivated to help others that he left the New York City Police Department after eight year and having achieved the rank of "sergeant" in order to join New York's Bravest.
"He wanted to help people. He felt that within his role with the police department that he wasn't doing enough. It's the way he was raised. His sister said in her eulogy that their father taught them to be good citizens, Americans and Christians," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Haughey, a cable and antenna installer in the 213th and fulltime cable splicer with Verizon.
Haughey and other squadron members also described Brunn as a lot of fun to be around. Rizzo said Brunn's life sometimes resembled a "Seinfeld" episode. "He always had these kooky stories of things that had had happened to him," Rizzo said, and a unique way of conveying them.
"He was so happy to be a firefighter. I remember him telling me, 'Hey, I went to my first fire. Boy, was it hot!' and it was just funny to hear him say that. I said, "Of course it's hot, it's a fire."
"One drill he came in with orange hair because he was trying to dye it blond, but put too much dye in it," Haughey and Rizzo recalled laughing, "and then he comes in the following drill bald because he couldn't get it right so he shaved it."
"We have a lot of good memories of Andy," Rizzo said.
Rizzo and Haughey said that though Brunn was "happy-go-lucky," that he was also very intelligent and always looking to improve himself.
"Any time he went away to a school, he always scored at the top of his class. Any task you gave him he excelled at," Haughey said. Brunn graduated with honors from his career field's technical school.
"He pretty much ran the fiberoptics shop," said Rizzo.
"Andy was the first to go on an Air ExpeditionaryForce( AEF)deployment. HewenttoKuwait by himself. It was tough because it was the first AEF and no one knew what to expect. Despite that, he volunteered to go," Rizzo said.
Haughey found out what happened to Andy when he called to check on his cousin, who is a battalion aide with the New York City Fire Department. "I called my cousin to see if he was all right and he was. Then he told me that Andy was missing. At the time I thought, 'All right. Well, they're going to get him out."
Haughey said, "We're the ones wearing the military uniform and so if we're attacked, we know the risk. Never did we think that the fire department and police department would be our front line. Andy died a hero."
"We have our own pain that we're dealing with... When you go away on deployments and live with each other for 24 hours a day for 15 days, you get close to one another. We're a close-knit family," said Rizzo.
Members of the 213th were pallbearers at Brunn's funeral. He was buried with full military and New York City Fire Department honors. "Everyone in our squadron appreciates what the 105th has done for us, especially the honor guard. Andy was given the honors he deserves," Haughey said.
"We're planning to memorialize him in some way here at Stewart," Rizzo said. We want to be reminded of Andy."
"I have a 10-year-old son and if my son turned out like him, I'd be the proudest father in the world," Haughey said.
Brunn is survived by his wife Sigalit Brunn of Fresh Meadows, New York; his father Andrew W. Brunn of Glen Oaks, and his sister Christine M. Brunn, of Glen Oaks.
Brunn's military awards and decorations include the Air Force Achievement Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, the Air Force Longevity Service Award, the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Armed Forces Reserve Service Medal, the Combat Readiness Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and the Small Arms Expert Medal.
By First Lieutenant Lawrence P. Wood HQ, 105th Airlift Wing NEWBURGH When Maj. John J. Chianese, 105th Security Forces commander, was asked how many people he could send to New York City to assist in the rescue operation, he knew he had a problem. The problem wasn't finding volunteers to go; it was telling the rest of his squadron that not everyone could go.
"I knew everyone in my squadron would want to volunteer and that is exactly what happened," Chianese said.
"A lot of people, including myself, had to stay back and that wasn't easy-especially knowing that one of our own family members was missing in the rubble."
The family member Chianese spoke of is Staff Sgt. Jerome M. Dominguez, 37, a member of the New York City Police Department's elite Emergency Services Unit, Squad 3. Dominguez was temporarily assigned to Emergency Services Squad 2 the day of the terrible tragedy that struck the World Trade Center and was part of the second emergency services unit to respond to the scene. He was last seen evacuating civilians from Stairway B2 in the South Tower of Building 2 when the structure collapsed.
According to Master Sgt. Robert Doviken 105th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) first sergeant and a fulltime lieutenant in the NYPD, Dominguez was a decorated member of the New York City Police Department and was a member of the department's prestigious Honor Legion. He had also been awarded the "Cop of the Month" Award in November of 1993.
Doviken worked with Dominguez for six years in the police department's highly coveted Highway Patrol.
He said, "Jerome was my best friend and the best man at my wedding. He was a New York City police officer who saw his duty and who, it appears, made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of that duty. Jerome would want us to drive on with our mission, which is what we'll do. All I ask is that we don't forget this true American hero."
"It still doesn't seem possible that this happened," said Master Sgt. Tom Jacobellis, also a member of the 105th SFS and a fulltime police officer in Nassau County. "Jerome was a great guy everybody in the unit loved. He went out of his way to talk to people, especially new members of the unit."
Dominguez joined the squadron in 1996 and distinguished himself several times over as an honor graduate from basic training and distinguished graduate from other technical training and law enforcement courses. He was also working to complete a college degree at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York City.
"Jerome had a wealth of experience that he brought into the unit. He was always willing to volunteer whenever anything happened. He really went out of his way to help the younger members of the unit that were interested in pursuing a civilian career in law enforcement. He was one of the best guys you'll ever meet," said Staff Sgt. Frank Berlanga, a police officer in Nassau County.
Twenty-four members of the 105th Security Forces Squadron members deployed to "ground zero" to help with search and rescue operations. For many the duty took on special meaning.
"You identify with it differently when you personally know someone who is missing. It brings it all home. [While searching] it briefly took away that feeling of helplessness that our country seems to be feeling," said Staff Sgt. Shawn Beahan, a fulltime SFS member.
Dominguez's military awards and decorations include the Air Force Achievement Medal with one device, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Air Force Training Ribbon, Air Force Basic Military Training Honor Grad Ribbon, the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Longevity Service Award, the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Martin Bannan HQ, 109th Airlift Wing NEW YORK CITY For days following Sept. 11th's terrorist attack, Stacy Amador tried reluctantly to walk from her apartment in Manhattan to "Ground Zero", the place where New York City's World Trade Center once stood. Each day, she got a block or two closer but turned around unable to face the grim task ahead.
Her brother had worked in one of the towers and called her that morning saying something had hit the building. Then the line went dead. It was the last anyone would see or hear of him. Hoping to come to terms with her loss, Amador set out to find closure. Finally, at Broadway, she saw 109th Staff Sgt. Elmer Santiago guarding the perimeter of "Ground Zero" and reached to him for help.
"She told me her story saying she came to me because she thought I had a 'kind face'", Santiago said. "I then took her as close as we were allowed to the site so she could say good-bye." There, he consoled her as she grieved and when they left she felt better. Having now a sense of closure, she seemed at peace with herself. Then she gave him a hug, said thank you and departed into the crowd.
Such encounters became common memories for many of the more than 340 New York Air National Guard volunteers who helped bring order, protection and care to the stricken city.
Arriving in New York on Sept. 23, Air Guard members worked 12-hour shifts at security points located on street corners throughout lower Manhattan. Side by side with New York City Police officers, Air Guard members guarded the perimeter surrounding the World Trade Center, off limits to the public. Only police, recovery workers, nearby residents and other designated people could enter, provided they had proper ID and authorization.
At each point, Guard members checked credentials to identify people entering into the perimeter. Many were turned away.
Also in the confusion, pedestrians, rerouted by barriers, sought directions from guardsmen, many of whom had never been to lower Manhattan. "We are becoming experts on how to get around here," said Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd of the 107th Refueling Wing. He added that civilians cooperated at most checkpoints.
New York residents said they felt safer having the military on their streets. "Our city's resources have been stretched to the limit," said Nadine Koza, a Manhattan resident. "We need you here to keep us safe."
"I feel blessed to be here and help ease the suffering. As long as I am needed, I'll stay here." Police officials working with the Air Guard agreed. "We need the help here. People are still afraid and the National Guard's presence makes them feel better," NYPD Officer Sal Alfarone explained.
As the rest of the city struggled to return to normal, New Yorkers came out showing their gratitude. For guardsmen walking the streets, it was like a victory parade. Everywhere, were banners, flags and volunteers handing out food and water to those who came to the rescue.
Some Air Guard volunteers said they were here since the day of the attack. Among them was Airman 1st Class Ronaldo Pereira with the 105th Airlift Wing in Newburgh. At home, only fifteen minutes from the World Trade Center, he rushed over after the attack to help firefighters and Army soldiers search for survivors. "I'm shocked but not surprised," he spoke, referring to the attack. "But I feel blessed to be here and help ease the suffering. As long as I am needed, I'll stay here."
For Master Sgt. Martin Petretti, with the 213th Engineering Installation Squadron in Newburgh, the scene reminded him of Vietnam, "We saw this kind of stuff over there during the war," he said adding how he lost two police officer friends when the towers collapsed.
When it became apparent there were no more survivors, ambulances entering and leaving "Ground Zero" no longer needed to rush. When one arrived from the site with its lights flashing, everyone at the entry point paused to show respect. "All of us saluted as an ambulance carrying the body of a firefighter passed us," 109th Senior Airman Michelle Buonome recalled. "When we dropped our arms everything fell silent. It's a feeling I will never forget."
In many instances, Guard members could not even offer that much, "We came across people waving pictures of missing family and friends asking each of us 'Have you seen this person?'" Tech. Sgt. Gerald Kurz with the 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton explained.
By Senior Airman Ann-Marie Santa HQ, 105th Airlift Wing NEWBURGH When Second Lieutenant Duane Susi, a member of the 105th Air Wing's Services Flight, reported for work in lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, he, like thousands of others, had no clue that a massive tragedy would soon have him fighting for his life. Duane, who patrols federal sites and facilities as a federal police officer with Federal Protective Services, was assigned to the area near the World Trade Center when the first plane hit the building.
"It came in over the radio that a plane hit the World Trade Center. I jumped into my patrol car and went to Church Street, which is right by there. I think it took me about 30 seconds to get there," said Duane.
The site was in complete chaos when he arrived to help, he said. He ran into the building and up an escalator that people were running down to get out of the building. He was confronted with the sight of debris and bodies when he entered a plaza between two of the buildings.
"A couple of minutes later, there was another explosion. I was on the north side of the south tower, and the explosion was on the south side. I didn't know that it was a terrorist attack yet," said Duane, who is married with an infant daughter, Sonia.
Having no protection, Duane huddled with some firefighters hoping that it would give him a little cover. When an opportunity presented itself, Duane and the firefighters he was with ran back down the escalators and out of the building.
"There was just a lull. It got so quiet," Duane said as he slowly shook his head. "The fire was burning so intensely in the first tower that people were jumping. My partner and I must have counted maybe 60 people who jumped. Ten minutes passed and when I looked up I saw people on what was left of probably the 84th floor waving towels. I just thought 'Man, if they've been able to survive this long, who knows?'"
Duane, a member of the 105th since 1994, heard that help was needed in a nearby triage area and was on his way there when the south tower collapsed.
"People were trying to outrun the smoke and debris. I managed to outrun it, and I heard over the radio that two of our guys were injured. One was trapped under an overhang that had collapsed. He actually shot out a window and was able to escape," Duane said.
Duane was on the way to Vessey Street, where the other man was trapped, when the north tower began to crumble.
"I heard a rumbling. I looked at the north tower, saw smoke and then saw the antenna on the top of the building coming down as the building collapsed. I just couldn't believe it" "I heard a rumbling. I looked at the north tower, saw smoke and then saw the antenna on the top of the building coming down as the building collapsed. I just couldn't believe it," Duane said, eyes turned upward and shaking his head. "A huge black cloud consumed everybody that was trying to outrun it. It felt like somebody was trying to force sand down my throat, and the smoke was so thick that you couldn't see your hand if you put it in front of your face.
"The whole time I kept seeing my fourmonth- old daughter's face in my mind, and I kept thinking 'I can't die. I can't die.' I was certain I was going to die."
Feeling his way through the dense smoke, Duane said that he came upon a glass door to a building where someone was giving people water to pour on themselves. Part of his concern was for a pregnant woman who was among the survivors. Thankfully, he said, she was all right.
Somehow, Duane, said, he was able to make it back to 26 Federal Plaza, where he was based. Soon after, he was able to find his partner.
"Miraculously, everybody that came in with us came out," he said with an audible sigh.
While Duane Susi was fighting for survival in Manhattan, Duane's father, Senior Master Sgt. Larry Susi, first sergeant from the 105th Services Flight was in the major work center when his wife called with news.
"I thought that he was in the area, but not it the building. My wife called and told me that she thought that Duane was in the hospital. I had to pull out of work for a little bit to compose myself. Rather than just sit around, I tried to keep busy, but I called my wife constantly for updates," said Larry.
It was after the collapse of the two towers that Duane was able to get through to his answering machine to let his wife, Tania, know that he was still alive.
"My wife had gone to a neighbor's house with the baby and she was crying and watching what was happening on television," Duane said softly. "When she got the message, she called my whole family to let them know that I was okay. She was crying, my dad was crying, my mom was crying. They were just very relieved that I was okay."
Larry's wife, Kathryn, gave him the news that their son was all right.
"She called and told me that he had been in the building, but that he was okay. I just thanked God," Larry said. "God gave me two gifts. One was finding my daughter, and the other was my son's life, his survival of this tragedy."
Duane did suffer some injuries during his ordeal, he said, but they were minor. Because of all the debris floating around in the air, glass got into his face and eyes.
"The glass on my face just washed away because it was just a lot of particles. I've developed a case of conjunctivitis, but (Lt.) Col. (Andrew) Buzzelli gave me some ointment and looked at it today and he says that my eyes are almost healed," Duane said.
When Duane returned home to his apartment in Yonkers that night, there were people on the seventh floor of his building who held a dinner for everybody. They prayed together and afterward a few of them went out to the roof of the apartment building to look at the skyline.
"Normally, we could see the World Trade Center from the roof, but all we saw that day was smoke," Duane said, his head shaking in disbelief.
Though he had just been through a terrible ordeal, Duane said that the reality of the situation didn't sink in until the next night.
"I hadn't cried since I was a kid, but when I started talking to Chaplain (Robert) Tilli, I just started crying. I was surprised that my tear ducts still worked!" he said laughing.
"If anything good came out of that day, it was the unity I saw in the way that everybody worked together." "Yeah, he sort of walked off on me," said Larry. "He was standing by the window looking in a daze, and I went over to him. He said 'Dad, I haven't cried since I was a little child.' For a father to hear his son say that, it's just something else. I told him that it's not embarrassing to cry, you just need to get it out. I know that he's happy that he survived, but he's sad that he saw so many people who didn't."
Like everybody else, Duane said he is trying to make sense of this tragedy. Finding something, anything positive is a start.
"If anything good came out of that day, it was the unity I saw in the way that everybody worked together. The major problems of the city became minor as people realized just how trivial some things are when something like this happens," he said.
By Lt. Col. Paul Fanning Guard Times Staff NEW YORK CITY In fulfillment of its purpose and training, the New York National Guard's Civil Support Team for Weapons of Mass Destruction, mobilized and deployed in record time in response to the worst attack ever on America.
In addition to the tragic distinction of being the first unit of its kind to respond to a terrorist attack, members of the CST were among the very first, if not the first military members to officially respond to the scene. Weeks after the attack, civil authorities are still relying on support from the unit and its many specialized capabilities.
Upon arrival, the unit went immediately to work to coordinate with the many city and state agencies also rushing to the scene and conduct the kind of support operations for which they were trained. Consistent with the mission, unit personnel quickly confirmed what they and local authorities believed - that the terrorists had not used chemical or biological agents in their attack, and there was no danger present of the affects of such weapons on the responders or the public. That accomplished, unit personnel then went on to provide a variety of technical support and advice to the authorities, including air quality monitoring, communications and other services.
"I am extremely pleased and proud of the service of the men and women of our Civil Support Team during this disaster," said Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Maguire, The Adjutant General. "Our CST was able to provide support that proved invaluable both to the search and recovery efforts and the criminal investigation. Fortunately much of what the CST is designed to provide - response to incidents involving chemical, biological or nuclear agents - was not what the City of New York required for this incident," he said. "The members of New York's 2nd CST have made great personal sacrifices to support their fellow New Yorkers."
Rapid Mobilization and Departure
According to the unit commander, unit personnel began forming within seconds of the crash of the first aircraft into the World Trade Center. As the affects of the attack continued, namely the collapse of the tower buildings, the Civil Support Team completed its mobilization at its home station, contacted and coordinated the recovery of personnel performing operations elsewhere, and launched forward. The team was in place at a forward assembly area within hours of the strike and well in advance of its doctrinal deadline following notification.
"We broke our own record getting out the door," said Lt. Col. Bob Domenici, unit commander and the individual most responsible for the unit's success in meeting all readiness and training objectives and achieving federal certification for deployment just weeks before the attack. "We surprised ourselves on how fast we could get together and get on the road," he said.
Even as the unit sped south from its upstate home at the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, Domenici was using high tech wireless communication to link with the State Emergency Management Office and the city's Office of Emergency Management for updated information on the still developing situation. The team's greatest fear, losses among civilian emergency responders was beginning to become evident. The scope and extent of these losses would ultimately exceed their fears.
Even more tragically, among the casualties lost at ground zero were many members of New York City's emergency response team for Hazardous Materials and Weapons of Mass Destruction, which maintained an office at the World Trade Center. Over the last two years the CST has trained closely with their counterparts in the city and participated in several joint exercises and training events. The loss to the city of these highly trained civilians at such a crucial moment complicated the CST's task of coordination with the civil authorities and the Incident Commander, as called for by CST doctrine. The team overcame the challenge thanks in large measure to the familiarity team members had with New York City's emergency response agencies and officials, which they had gained through those previous exercises. The CST helped stunned fire fighters, medical personnel and other responders in their efforts to get reorganized in the face of devastating losses of key personnel.
"We all knew people down there, people we lost. I think all of us had a relative or someone we know who was affected by this" "There were a lot of different agencies responding," said Domenici, during an interview with a reporter from Jane's Defense Weekly. "Even though we knew we didn't have a WMD situation there was still concern for other contaminants and many agencies wanted to conduct air sampling procedures. That area down there is huge and no one organization could properly do it alone. So our computer modeler developed the plan that all the agencies then used. He applied a grid system that we use as part of our procedures and then expanded it. Each agency was assigned a coverage area to test and that plan worked well," he said. "We essentially brought order to chaos."
It was Personal
Despite three years of intensive training members of the team still express shock for the destruction they witnessed at ground zero. "This was personal for us," said Domenici, as he spoke to a CBS News reporter from the unit's home station after they had returned from weeks of duty in New York City. "I was born in Brooklyn. I am from New York City as are some of our members. We all knew people down there, people we lost. I think all of us had a relative or someone we know who was affected by this," he said.
Following the crisis period, the CST continued to provide services to various agencies, which was occasionally interrupted when team members attended funerals of deceased firefighters and city emergency responders. "For weeks all we did was work and attend funerals," Domenici said.
The Fight is Not Over
In the weeks that followed, the CST responded to number of requests for support across the state. The discovery of Anthrax spores in mail in Florida, Washington, DC and in New York City opened a new phase in the ongoing attack on America. The CST used its training and experience to assist a variety of state and local law enforcement agencies investigate Anthrax scares in communities large and small. As a precaution, the unit was also positioned at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx during the home games of the World Series.
"The New York City Police Department used us continuously, and for security reasons, we donned some of their clothing," said Domenici regarding the work at the stadium. The unit inspected the entire stadium before the games, and the President's Secret Service security team allowed, even encouraged the team to go everywhere. "We went all over, at any time. Inside the locker rooms, right past the players, in and out of the box seats and virtually all the nooks and crannies. And, we moved with the police to keep our eyes peeled for any suspicious activity and to advise them about WMD possibilities," he said.
"We have been working non stop," he said. "The authorities have been learning more about our additional capabilities and taking advantage of them. They are using our expertise to help them plan and organize the way they employ their own staffs. We are fully integrated with them. They know us. We know them. We are truly working together as a team," he said.
HQ, 107th Air Refueling Wing NEW YORK CITY An emotional three weeks of service to New York State ended at centerfield of Yankee Stadium for an Air National Guardsman in late October. Game three of the American League championship series, with the Yanks up two games to none over the Mariners, got off to a patriotic start with just under one hundred members of Joint Task Force 42 unfolding and displaying a huge American flag, and a nine-member honor guard team bearing colors of the nation, state, service branches, the Army's 42d Infantry Division and flanking rifles. By the time the day was done, the Yankees would be full of regret, but Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mary Alice Rebis would be bursting with pride.
Rebis, a guardsman with the 109th Airlift Wing, Stratton Air National Guard Base, Scotia, NY, carried the Air Force flag onto the field. It's something she'll never forget. And it's also another reason why she feels the honor guard is so important to the nation, and probably the best recruiting tool the Air Force and Air National Guard have. "I'll show people a picture of this and say 'see, you could do this,'" she said after the opening ceremonies.
As thousands of fans cheered for the service men and women on the field, Rebis' family, at home in Broadalbin, NY, was glad at her opportunity, but also waiting for the wife and mother of three to return. The color guard detail, arranged hastily just the day prior, added an extra day to the three weeks she had already been deployed. "It's a balance thing," Rebis said of her commitment to the Guard. "My children are the most important thing in my life. But they also understand that this is the sacrifice they are making [for their country]. It's their way of helping, giving up their family life for these three weeks," she added. The Yankees were going to win, was Rebis' prediction before the game. It didn't happen, not by a long shot. And she would have a hard time holding back the tears when the crowd roared at the end of the national anthem was her second prediction.
The anticipated emotional experience started long before Michael Bolton started singing. "When we walked [onto the field], as you walked by people who were standing up and cheering us, that had to be the best part of the whole thing. And then we got onto the field and the cheering was so loud we couldn't hear [the commands]. I just wanted to catch every moment of everything that was going on around me," she said. Rebis was too busy to shed even one tear.
Honor guards show off the military at events like the Yankees game. But veterans' funerals have a much deeper meaning for Rebis. In fact, it was after witnessing the passing of the flag at a veteran's funeral that she decided to become a full-time member of the honor guard. "These [veterans] have dedicated part of their lives [to military service], and some of it under pretty horrible conditions. This is the least we can do," she said. And her most cherished honor guard memory is from the funeral of a veteran. "I could just see in [the widow's] eyes how special it was. Fifty years later [her deceased husband's service] still meant so much," she added.
Rebis is home with her family now. She has taken a renewed outlook toward the Air Guard and the honor guard. And after three weeks, she also has emotional ties to the people of New York City. "You walk the streets and people just come up and thank us. I have such a sense of pride now, doing what I do. It's just been so rewarding," she said.
The New York National Guard was well represented at the game on Saturday, October 20th. And the Yankees had a better day Sunday, winning the American League pennant, starting their drive towards their World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Yanks would go on to lose the World Series in a dramatic game seven stand.
by Staff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta 138th MPAD NEW YORK CITY New York Army National Guardsmen are providing the extra eyes and ears needed in this time of crisis, police sources say.
From Brooklyn Bridge to Grand Central Station, New York Army National Guardsmen, clad in camouflage and patrol caps, are on station-working with New York City Police to boost security at the Big Apple's major transit hubs.
Called presence patrols by the military, the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) police, whose beat is subways, tunnels and bridges, see the soldiers as an intelligence asset.
"They help us decipher whether calls or complaints are serious or not," said Police Officer Edgar Burgos.
The recent crisis has increased the amount of what Burgos called "crazy complaints"-thereby increasing the need for guardsmen to help filter them.
In the break room at the MTA Police District 5 Station, the police officers are a relaxed crowd, joking over coffee about Jerry Springer playing on the break room TV.
But they are attuned to two-way radio traffic-conversing while keeping an ear bent to incoming calls. Talk sometimes pauses as they listen to the radio, other times it stops altogether as police and soldiers charge out the door-as was the case yesterday when a 10-85 call came in. The code, along with 10-13, are police radio jargon for "officer needs assistance" and "request additional unit", respectively-"drop everything" calls, Burgos said. The 10-85 call turned out to be just a fight, but it when came over the radio, everyone-police and soldiers-went running to the scene.
"They roll when we do," Burgos said of the soldiers. Burgos said the soldiers provide extra sets of eyes and ears-an additional measure of security needed in subways, where crowds can make ordinary police calls dangerous. "Suspects or potential suspects can hide in crowds," Burgos said. "They know who you are, but you don't know who they are, so people in uniform can often become targets....and a crowd can panic and stampede, and that's dangerous."
Burgos said soldiers can help police arriving on the scene tell "who's who"- identifying suspects or victims and giving situation reports, thus saving police time and helping get dangerous situations under control.
Burgos said he hopes the soldiers will be issued radios so they can better work with the police. They would need to learn police codes in addition to 10-85 and 10-13, he added.
"I think the National Guard [here] should be armed," New York City Resident Luis Bergara said.
A deliveryman and Chile native, Bergara came to the United States in 1964. Armed or not, Bergara said the soldiers have increased his sense of security.
"There's not enough police around," he said. "There's not enough forces on the street with everything going on. Now, with the National Guard, we have more forces patrolling the street."
In the majestic white marble passages of Grand Central Station, the guardsmen are posted with police officers. Like the police, the soldiers seem to have a born crowd repoire, as commuters stop and ask for directions, or more often than not, thank them for being there.
"I've been checking the [guard] posts," said 1st Sgt. Carl Dornbush, C Company, 230th Signal Battalion, "and at every one of them, someone has come up and said something like, 'glad to see you' or glad you're here'."
The soldiers' main contribution in this time of crisis seems to be reassurance, Dornbush added, a sentiment echoed by commuter Karen Lutzker.
"I feel much better that the National Guard is here," said Lutzker, who hadn't taken the subway since September 11. "If I hadn't seen the National Guard at Grand Central Station, I might not have taken the subway," she said.
Lutzker said she would like a sustained National Guard presence in New York City.
"I don't feel safe anymore," she said.
Staff Sgt. Edward Hickman, 230th Signal Battalion, said working at Grand Central Station is not a difficult job.
"We're hoping nothing will happen," he said.
Posted on the street outside Grand Central Station, Hickman said he sometimes feels more like greeter than a guard, because of the warm response the commuters and pedestrians give him.
"It gives me a greater sense of purpose," he said, "because we are reassuring them. We're their eyes and ears."
By Private First Class Jason Kirkman HQ, 42d ID (M) NEW YORK CITY Missing, Please Help me Find..., Missing a Loved One, Please Help Me Find My Daddy/Mommy/ Brother/Sister/Son/Daughter/Husband/Wife.
Pictures with phone numbers and names. Some young, some old, some black, some white, some Hispanic, some Asian. Every size, shape, and color of people. All missing. Some single, some engaged, some serious about their loved one, some married. All missing.
Some doctors, some lawyers, some students, some traders. Some in mail, some in maintenance, some secretaries, some runners for companies, some businessmen, some stockholders, and yes, some firefighters and police officers. All missing.
Hundreds, no, thousands of these signs were hanging and still hang now. It is a gauntlet of sadness worried and scared. Feelings that hit you when you go by. Right in the pit of your stomach. All the emotion inside starts to ball up. Eyes start to water, your face turns flush. The ball creeping up. Now at the bottom of your throat. Your eyes water more and a tear builds. You continue to walk the hallway of loved ones, feeling what their families feel, at least trying to. But you can not. All you feel is the tremendous sorrow, sadness and love for that person. For every person. Each missing.
A picture catches your eye. You stop and stare. You see how happy that person was. A photo from a vacation, a birthday, a celebration, a happier time. You see that they were not scared of anything. Their hearts look free and innocent and loving. You feel like you know the person, but you know you do not. You feel like you have known them all their lives and were there as they grew up, through good times and bad, the dances, the proms, weddings, births, funerals, and yes, event at their home, work, and school. You sit and stare. A tear runs down your face. The lump in your throat finally comes up. You begin to weep. The sorrow, pain, and your love finally comes. You cry a song, a sad and yet happy song. They no longer suffer.
As you move by you feel stronger. Things once taken for granted become more important. Life takes on new meaning to share it with the ones you love. To honor those missing.
By Spec. Diane Filak 138th MPAD NEW YORK CITY Emotions are scattered every which way here, but there are people who help when help is most needed.
Each day, concerned chaplains walk to soldiers at and around ground zero and talk with them. "The soldiers have been very strong," said Maj. Donald N. Zapsic, chaplain of the 3rd Brigade Headquarters Company, Buffalo, NY.
The chaplains are there to see how each soldier is handling the reality of being so close to ground zero. "[You] can't help but be affected," said Major Bruce D. Morris, Chaplain of the 152nd Engineer Battalion attached to the 204th Engineer Battalion. Standing in a lethal, unsafe environment can heighten the stress level, Morris said.
Zapsic said stress levels are still being assessed because the mission at hand is a priority.
"It will take weeks to months for the soldiers to process what they have seen," he said.
Guard soldiers stand 12 to 15 hours securing ground zero, and it is not uncommon for them to see family members mourning and crying for the loss of loved ones.
"This can be taxing for any soldier," said Morris. Chaplains look for specific signs of stress in soldiers such as withdrawing into themselves, acting out of character or expressing feelings abnormally, Zapsic said.
"Getting information from people is very important," said Lt. Col. John Vigilanti, chaplain of 53rd Troop Command, Valhalla, NY.
Through idle conversation with the troops, chaplains and their assistant can hear about issues within the soldiers' units. Chaplains have been trained in critical incident issues, which better prepares them to help the soldiers in this time of need.
Day or night, chaplains are available to talk with soldiers, said Zapsic.
"[The soldiers] have been talking with each other and consoling each other," said Chaplain Assistant Staff Sgt. John A. Duffy, 53rd Troop Headquarters Detachment.
"There is a higher concern for the soldiers when they return to home station," said Vigilanti. "That is when they will be going through a reflecting process and remembering what they have seen."
One way that soldiers can help themselves is to get together and talk about their feelings and keep on talking, Zapsic said.
"The soldiers should feel proud that they were able to do what they did with the resources here," said Vigilanti. "[It is] amazing how appreciative the people are."
Guard Times Staff ROTTERDAM Members of the National Guard's Joint Task Force 42 supporting emergency operations in New York City received a banner of support from home this October from the toddlers of the Schonowe Preschool in Rotterdam. Sgt. David Kenyon, a member of the 4th Personnel Services Detachment in Latham, received a banner of support from his son Jonathan's preschool.
Kenyon, deployed to Manhattan for Joint Task Force 42, brought the preschooler's banner to the World Trade Center site to display for recovery workers and National Guard members. The banner later was moved to the Park Avenue Armory on display for members of the Joint Task Force.
Kenyon expects to return the banner to the schoolchildren as a return gesture of thanks for their kind thoughts and hard work. The Schonowe School also donated boxes of home-baked goods and letters decorated by the pre-schoolers to show their appreciation of the National Guard's efforts in the city.
By Staff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta 138th MPAD NEW YORK CITY Less than a month after the destruction of the World Trade Center, New York Army National Guard sol dier Sgt. Tim O'Brien wrought with paint and canvas images that both evoke its magnitude and hint at the source its redemption.
O'Brien calls his painting "The 11th Embrace", and explained his reasons for doing it humbly, almost sheepishly. "I felt bad," O'Brien said. "I wanted to do something."
As a member of the Joint Task Force 42 Protocol Team deployed to New York City, O'Brien has seen ground zero several times. His painting, a testament to those visits, shows three elements-in the background, the leaning facades of the world trade center, looming like aimless wraiths bemoaning the nameless dead; and in the foreground, a cop, a soldier, and a fireman embracing.
Between the figures and the destruction is the third element of O'Brien's healing trinity. If the figures are ground zero's live, human dimension, then the third element-walking to oblivion, almost spectral-is the ash of the phoenix.
Like many witnesses, O'Brien was both awed and saddened at the sight of ground zero. He had already painted one picture of the event. He said his feelings were the finishing touch in the second.
"I just wept...but I hid my tears," O'Brien said. "That kind of made the next painting, because I wanted to show the feelings of this."
In a secluded corner of the Park Avenue Armory he calls his "art annex", O'Brien began the second painting. He based it on his first painting, news photographs, and a picture of New York Fireman Lt. Ray Murphy of Ladder Company 16-with his back to the camera, walking toward ground zero.
"From the photo, I imagined the scene at ground zero as quiet, like winter," said O'Brien. "I wanted to give it a quiet, reflective quality."
O'Brien introduced a human dimension into this apocalyptic scene in the form of figures central to the event-a fireman, a soldier, and a policeman. The fireman droops as if exhausted, or resigned to the loss of his brothers. The soldier, clad in camouflage, kevlar, and dust mask seems to be not so much consoling the fireman as holding him up, as if filling the role of the fireman's lost comrades. The policeman is the more consoling figure... worldly wise, yet one with the others, human enough to entwine one arm in theirs.
As for the third element, O'Brien speculated that something else-call it a spirit-was trying to guide his brush strokes.
It happened one recent autumn evening when he was trying to show the painting's progress to some firemen at Ladder Company 16, located near the Park Avenue Armory. While he was ringing the firehouse bell, the wind suddenly tore the picture of Murphy from the top of the canvas where O'Brien had attached it.
"It went up four flights, down one block, across the street, hit a building, and flopped against a wrought iron fence," O'Brien said. "I felt like a dork, chasing the picture down the block, with my painting in one hand."
Though not superstitious, O'Brien admitted the incident haunted him.
"As I picked it up, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I found out later that [Murphy] was dead." Lt. Danny Williams of Ladder Company 16 said Murphy was most likely killed when the second tower collapsed. He was last seen alive walking to the company's command post on West Street. His funeral was held on October 4.
"Maybe he was trying to tell me something," O'Brien said.
It was then O'Brien added the third element-a fireman, small in the distance, disappearing into ground zero, and a ghostly hand on the shoulder of the fireman in the foreground.
Mainly an airbrush artist, O'Brien has a degree in graphic arts, and said he has been drawing skillfully since the fifth grade. He used airbrush to depict the dust on the shoulders of his figures, and to soften their look.
Meanwhile, he continues his duties in Operation Rainbow Hope, like escorting VIPs to ground zero, where he sometimes sees victims' relatives. To O'Brien, this is the most important thing, the thing the painting shows, and the one thing we have to remember.
"The terrorists took a lot away from us," he said, "but the attack gave us a new appreciation for each other. We have to appreciate each other while we still can."
Most people are aware that the National Guard Family Program is designed to enhance National Guard readiness, retention and quality of life. It accomplishes this by providing a support system (Family Support Groups, newsletters, telephone tree, and other volunteer programs and activities) for the Guard members, their families, their friends, and the unit. The program also notifies families of available benefits, assistance, entitlements and services (use of the commissary, exchange, medical care, etc). The objective is to assist in creating a self-reliant National Guard family in both military and civilian systems.
One New York unit put this program to the test following the disastrous events of September 11, 2001. The 204th Combat Engineer Battalion (Heavy) from Binghamton, NY was summoned to swiftly respond to this tragedy. The unit's duties included providing interior security perimeter to Ground Zero, and also security for Decontamination stations surrounding the site.
During this crisis, the Family Support Group demonstrated their strength and dedication through a number of ways. Shirley Savage, the coordinator of the Support Group, spoke about the immediate need for a strong support system during this particularly trying time. Diligent efforts from Cindy Corpin, co-coordinator, Cathy Kuntzleman-Secretary, along with committee members Annie Patton, Joanne Borst, and Mary Brady, played strong roles in ensuring families were individually polled for their immediate needs and rendering assistance in a timely fashion.
Savage said that significant donations from the community were solicited, the results of which filled six military vehicles. Sam's Club provided an outstanding donation, which was used to purchase snacks, toiletries, undergarments, socks, stamps, and writing paper for the soldiers. American Legion Post 89 in Vestal, NY donated the use of their facility for the first Support Group meeting. 101 people attended this meeting intended to address concerns and issues unique to this type of deployment. Coping with the disaster, and its' ramifications on the children were among the subject matter.
Soldiers returning from Ground Zero updated families on the status of their loved ones, while trying to alleviate the children's fears of losing their parent/guardian. Children drew pictures and wrote letters to their loved ones to help them cope with the separation. World Trade Center pictures were also provided to help families comprehend the magnitude of the task at hand, and how the unit was contributing to the rescue/recovery effort.
Upon returning to home station, the soldiers were greeted with a substantial "Welcome Home" party, which greatly aided in dealing with the stress of the deployment. The soldiers were able to reunite with their families and friends, while sharing the successes and hardships of such an operation.
The FSG continues to hold monthly meetings, improve information dissemination, work on family care issues (issuance of ID cards, insurance, etc.) and are involved in planning the upcoming Family Day Party.
Dear American Friends, After the tragedy which touched your country, all the French elected members of the Argonne decided to organize a special ceremony in Sechault to the monument of the 369th Infantry (15th New York Regiment).
The ceremony took place on Friday, September 14 in the presence of all the French Authorithies, the American representative of the American Battle Monuments Commission and the French children of Sechault.
This ceremony was not the only one, other numerous ceremonies took place in all of France. We hope that these events mark the friendship which binds our two countries in these terrible moments. God Bless America and France !
Guard Times Staff NEW YORK CITY Following more than five harrowing weeks of providing emergency re sponse to the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center, a member of the New York Naval Militia brought a moment of joy to the city's Emergency Operations Center. Mayor Rudy Guiliani presided over the marriage of retired Marine Corps Major Bill Lochridge and his bride Kirsten Hansen.
"It purifies the whole place," Guiliani said to reporters after officiating the ceremony. "To have a wedding here is really, really beautiful."
Lockridge serves in the military liaison office for Joint Task Force 42, the New York National Guard's response force in Manhattan. He chose the city's emergency command center for the couple's wedding "to be able to share it with the people who are here because we've been through quite a bit since Day One," Lockridge said.
He first met Hansen in 1964 but the couple separated during Lockridge's service in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. They both ended up marrying and divorcing others over the course of 37 years. The couple reunited last year.
By Technical Sergeant Trish Pullar HQ, 105th Airlift Wing NEW YORK CITY When 105th medics Staff Sgt. Hector Caro and Staff Sgt. Bob Clark stopped into a coffee shop near ground zero at about 2 a.m. one morning, they certainly weren't expecting to see any celebrities. But behind the serving line, elbowto- elbow with other volunteers, was Harrison Ford, star of popular movies like "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones," and the more recent film, "What Lies Beneath."
Caro and Clark said the 59-year-old star was serving chow and talking with volunteers. "There was no fanfare, he was just serving food. No one knew he was there," said Clark. They said the star was friendly and thanked them and wished them luck.
The two medics deployed to New York City with other 105th members from Sept. 24 through Oct. 7th to support ongoing operations there. Caro and Clark were tasked to help provide medical support while others performed perimeter control duties.
The team roamed the Air National Guard "sector" of the perimeter control line, checking on the health of the troops. "We visited each post and made sure people were warm enough, fed, and physically and emotionally well," said Caro. "We treated people for ailments like the flu, colds, headaches and blisters."
Both volunteered for the duty because they wanted to do something to help. Caro, a fulltime nursing student at Capital Community College in Hartford, Conn., is originally from New York City and has been touched personally by the tragedy.
"I had gotten close to Jerome (Dominguez, a member of Security Forces and fulltime New York City police officer who is listed among the missing) and I know plenty of people who worked in the Towers. I wanted to help somehow. There's more destruction than you can imagine," he said.
Clark, a fulltime senior systems designer for Orange and Rockland Power Company and a resident of Vernon, New Jersey, used to live and drill in Queens when he was a member of the Naval Reserves. The 30-year veteran of the Navy and Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran said the site was the worst he'd ever seen.
"This is what we train for on drills and on annual training. To not volunteer would have been a sin. We're good at we do and we needed to do it," Clark said.
"Each of us is in the military for a reason-we believe in what we're doing," he said. "I think that this has strengthened the New York National Guard."
By Staff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta 138th MPAD NEW YORK CITY Ground zero was the focus and communica tion the theme of Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack L. Tilley's visit here September 28.
After a situation briefing at Battery Park, Tilley spoke with soldiers and toured ground zero. Tilley said communication was the all-important factor during the current crisis-whether it was NCO to soldier, or soldier to family.
"Talking to families right now is more important now than it has ever been-making sure they're informed about what's going on, because they are scared about what's going on," Tilley said.
Tilley spoke about his experiences stemming from the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, saying that the best thing to do for people suffering from the attacks was to "just let them talk".
"If you see someone off by themselves, just talk to them," Tilley said. "Right now, more than any other time, a hug and a 'God bless you' means a lot."
Tilley also spoke to the role of NCOs and soldiers in the current crisis, emphasizing that leaders should stay concerned with their own responsibilities -not the responsibilities of others.
"Right now, more any other time in the history of our great country, and our great Army, they need to stay focused in their lane," Tilley said. "They need to talk to their people, they need to communicate with them, because people are scared."
Tilley said the National Guard brings a special sensitivity to the crisis, noting that many of them aiding initial rescue efforts at ground zero were New York City natives.
"We can't get the job done without the guard, reserve, and active duty [soldiers]," Tilley said. "This is the Army... all of us working together."
Tilley also praised the numerous other organizations which have come forward to aid the rescue and recovery efforts, such as the Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and the FBI. Tilley said that as a soldier he was used to doing things by his own means, and was surprised at the rescue organizations' solidarity.
"Here's one time in history that everybody has pulled together are helping out," Tilley said. "This is not just the National Guard-this is the United States of America."
By Staff Sgt. Paul Dean HQ, 107th Air Refueling Wing NEW YORK CITY More than 58,000 Americans were killed during the Vietnam War; an additional 59,000 committed suicide as a direct result of it.
"We have learned our lesson, that is why we are here," said Lt. Cmdr. Dan McCartan, New York Naval Militia, one of the Critical Incident Stress Management team members on duty in New York City with Joint Task Force 42.
"Were there other deaths indirectly related to the war? Absolutely," McCartan added. These additional, un-quantifiable losses of life can be attributed to alcoholism, drug abuse, cancers and other self-destructive behaviors born of poor, or no reentry counseling, coping skills lessons, or follow-on mental health care for service men and women returning to a non-war social setting.
Interaction during a crisis, providing on-the-spot counseling, referring service members to mental health professionals near their home stations, and exit briefings are all functions of CISM teams here.
And although there may be no defined battlefield, this new war, the war on terrorism, is made up of the same horrors, exposure to unthinkable grief, and potential problems of any front line. Service members working in New York City experience things which can challenge their ability to function as a productive, socially capable people -both while here, and long after they go home. "I'll never be able to understand what some of these people have seen or experienced," said Tech. Sgt. Ken York, 107th Air Refueling Wing, who guards an entrance to ground zero.
Signs of Trouble
There are many signs that somebody is having difficulty integrating an experience in a healthy way: high blood pressure, increased heart rate, irritability, withdrawing, mood swings, and any other behavior, physical or mental, which changed since the event may signal a problem.
"These are normal human responses to a situation where bad things happen to good people," said Lt. Col. Chuck Holmberg, New York Army National Guard, 6th Medical Detachment, officer in charge of the current CISM team rotation. "We have to process the event: think it through, talk through it, and work it through our minds, so that somewhere down the line we aren't seriously impaired because of posttraumatic stress disorder," he added.
Talking is the first step in identifying and healing issues of mental health. And CISM team members talk to the men and women working for JTF 42 wherever they are, and whenever they're there.
"The team came up to me while I was on perimeter guard," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Feici Jr., New York Air National Guard, 213th Engineer Installation Squadron. "They were very uplifting. We talked, and they tried to get me laughing for a moment to get my mind off of things," he added.
The first few moments of conversation with a service member give the CISM mental health professionals and chaplains cues about the emotional state of the person.
If this informal contact gives a CISM team member signals that there may be immediate health concerns, the person is engaged in more in-depth conversation. This 'talking tool' is used to determine if a problem exists, or is emerging.
Continued Monitoring, Self-Service
Every service member is required to attend an out briefing conducted by a CISM team before leaving JTF 42. The briefings give people a chance to ask questions and get information on post traumatic stress disorder, its signs, and avenues for help. A checklist of physical, mental and behavioral indicators is given to each person.
It's important to share information and the checklist from the CISM briefing with family members, friends, or companions when a person returns home. It's also important to realize that some symptoms may take months to surface.
"The people closest to you can help you. They can remind you. They can point things out: 'you're pacing a lot, you never used to do that,'" said Mark, giving an example.
"[Service members] may have seen grieving people, children crying at the loss of their father or mother; their senses have been touched by what's happening here," said McCartan. And the CISM teams rotating through JTF 42 are providing the first step toward continued mental and emotional health. Each person who served in JTF 42 is obligated to take the next: to watch one another and share information and feelings with friends and family.
The first source of information and help with problems related to duty with JTF 42 is with the medical resources at their unit. Information will be available at each unit outlining procedures for appropriate follow on action.
Service members who served in JTF 42 may also contact any VA medical facility in New York or New Jersey -just ask for the behavioral health section. There is also a VA hotline at (212) 568-7500 ext. 7981. It is not necessary to go through your chain of command before contacting the VA.