Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Airmen join with community to remember

Two A-10C Thunderbolt II's from the 76th Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, GA fly over the Valdosta courthouse Sept. 11, 2011. Airmen, and community members gathered in downtown Valdosta to remember those lost on Sept. 11, 2001.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Paul Francis)

by Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth
23rd Wing Public Affairs

9/12/2011 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Hundreds gathered in downtown Valdosta, Ga. to show their support and patriotism as they looked back at that day, ten years ago and recounted the sorrow and bravery that occurred from Americans all across the country.

The ceremony, which was held at the historic Lowndes County Courthouse, began early in the morning of Sept. 11, 2011 as Airmen, police officers, first responders and community members of Valdosta and Lowndes County gathered to pay their respects and remember.

To start the ceremony the Valdosta State University mass choir sang three patriotic musical pieces, to include "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful" after which Col. Scott Kindsvater, 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing commander took the podium.

"It's a privilege to be here today and a personnel honor to welcome you to this ceremony, I was in the Pentagon ten years ago and I will never forget that day," he said. "In the ashes ten years ago more than 3,000 people were dead or missing and countless more were devastated."

He went on to speak about what has changed in this country and what has stayed the same, like the nations purpose, community spirit and our idea of service.

After the speech, the crowd held a moment of silence that was accompanied by a local church bells ringing.

After the moment of silence, J.D. Rice Valdosta fire department chief led the group in prayer. "We were taught that prayer changes things, and when we pray we talk to God and God answers our prayers."

The Pledge of Allegiance followed the prayer sung by the St. John's Children's Choir. After which Col. Neil Robinson, 23rd Maintenance Group commander, took the microphone to provide his perspective.

"I don't want to read a speech this morning, I simply want to talk," said Robinson. "Talk to my fellow countrymen, all of us by whom we are connected and tied to a common heritage, a common core set of principles.

Robinson began his story in the A-Wing of the Pentagon where his office was located. As he began his workday, he would have no idea that only a little over a hundred yards from his office would be the impact sight of Flight 77.

His day started as most Americans had until the first plane hit the tower and news began to break. Their first thoughts were something had gone horribly wrong, that's when the second plane hit the other tower.

"When you witness something this magnifying you try to find some sense of normalcy," said Robinson. "I figured I would try to get back to work and get my mind off of what was going on."

Robinson called his wife and a few minutes after hanging up the phone with her, he heard a sound that he would never forget, the sound of Flight 77 crashing into the side of the building.

"The first thing out of my mind was that it was a construction accident because at the time they were renovating the west wedge, but it probably took half a second to figure out it wasn't a construction accident," said Robinson "I thought to myself, so this is what a truck bomb sounds like."

After the recount of his day at the Pentagon on Sept. 11 he began to talk about the patriotism and valor of all Americans and the military.

"You can rest assured that your American military is taking the fight to the enemy on his own home turf," said Robinson. "We do that on their turf so they can't come over here and do what they did ten years ago today."

"We fight them on their own turf, so you can freely gather here today without risk of a suicide bomb, without the risk of a roadside improvised explosive device," Robinson said. "We're taking the fight to the enemy. Not only do we have the 23rd Wing but the 93rd AGOW as well. When you look at what we do at Moody, our mission is simple, we save lives, we protect friendly forces and we kill the enemy."

Following Robinson's speech, the Valdosta fire department Pipe and Drum Corps played "Amazing Grace" with bagpipes and while wearing full Scottish Highland dress.

After the ending of the song two A-10C Thunderbolt II's from the 76th Fighter Squadron flew over the crowd to cheers and applause from the people below.

To wrap up the ceremony Don McArthur, an Air Force retiree performed "Taps" on a bugle to honor all those that have fallen. On Sept. 11, 2001, approximately 3,000 people died or went missing. Ten years later cities across the U.S. take time to honor these fallen with memorials and services.


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