I woke up a bit earlier than usual this morning, five years ago. I just crawled out of the shower and ran to answer the phone. My wife, then girlfriend, called from work to get me to turn on the news. I turned the television on in time to see the second plane ram the tower. My wife and I looked on in silence. I knew right then and there that this was no accident. Some jackwad terrorists forced these planes into the Twin Towers.
I was between full-time gigs and working for CBS Infinity radio at the time. We were supposed to muster our promotions and engineering crew downtown to set up for the Houston Texans kickoff party. We gathered our gear and rolled downtown anyway in the face of danger and under threat of further attacks. No one knew if Houston was going to suffer a similar fate that day. We arrived and started doing man on the street interviews with the throngs of people vacating high rise buildings. The world was in shock. That shock was punctuated by the silence in the air. It was distinct and crisp. No planes flew overhead. The nascent droning of police and traffic helicopters during the morning rush was absent. You could tell something was wrong.
We returned to the station after spending most of the morning downtown. There was only so much we could do there. Besides, once we spotted the mayor (Lee Brown) hauling ass outta downtown with a detachment of SWAT in tow, I knew we were needed elsewhere.
Getting back into the station was a nightmare. HPD swarmed the building under orders from the chief of police and the U.S. State Department. They were to protect the Israeli Consulate at all costs. We brought our vans around to the garage and parked them by the garage entrance we use. Four HPD officers came around the corner with guns drawn. We were about as welcome as a Penthouse at a Jerry Falwell book signing. Only after it was determined we were not the next Oklahoma City Bomber, we were allowed to park the vans.
I walked into the elevator in time to see a cop buddy of mine dragging the contents of his entire gun vault to the front desk. There were a couple of 870s, his AR-15, and several ammo cans of .223, .45, and double-ought and slugs. I stayed down there to help him load AR mags until his supervisor told me to stop. He was probably still pissed about my Timothy McVeigh wisecrack in the garage. We were visited by a couple of DSS (Diplomatic Security Service) guys advising the remaining building population to stay off the consulate floor. To this day, I still don't know what floor they are on.
We hung around the station until it was no longer beneficial for us to do so. How many times could we watch the planes fly into the towers? What new reports were there to listen to? About the only excitement we had that afternoon was watching two F-16s from Ellington Field haul major ass at about 1.0 Mach across the skyline. Probably going up to relieve those on station with Air Force One. Must have been nice for George to see the boys from the 'Ace in the Hole' squadron up their riding shotgun. Citizen soldiers guarding their CINC, ready to attack the bastards who did this without hesitation...without mercy.
My wife was off doing something later that evening. Tennis probably, I don't recall. I sat in my apartment, drinking and watching the day's events. I was pretty pissed off. Sounds of laughter and joy were coming from the apartments down the hall. About two doors down, some young men of Dirka Dirkastani descent were raising hell everytime the news showed impact. I only put up with about an hour of it. I opened the door and screamed into the night: "SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU ARAB ASSHOLES!!! IF I HEAR ONE MORE CHEER COMING OUT OF YOUR FILTHY MOUTHS, I WILL PERSONALLY COME DOWN THERE AND TEACH YOU TO FLY OFF A FUCKING ROOFTOP!!!" Silence.
I remember those words to this day. I meant every single one of them. I wanted them to know my anger, and to challenge me on it. Retribution would have been mine given the opportunity...however small an opportunity it was. I still believe that I heard someone cheering after I slammed the door. My efforts were welcomed, and my slice of America mourned in peace the rest of the evening.
Today, I heard a montage segment on the radio. It was a collection of radio calls from Ground Zero. Repeated calls of trapped firemen and urgent requests for help. Calls came from Air Traffic Controllers telling every airborne plane to get on the ground, and has anyone seen United Flight 93? The one thing that hit home was the response from a controller, "93 is already on the ground." "You mean they've landed?" replies the other controller. "No," says the first, "They're on the ground."
Today, I am wearing my "Ace In The Hole" 111th Fighter Squadron shirt. This is the same group of men and women who were airborne immediately after the first plane hit. These warriors from the 147th Fighter Wing at Ellington Field in Houston, Tx. were at the very tip of the spear in the first minutes of the GWOT. They were hell bent on protecting Air Force One when POTUS was in the air. As the story goes, when the regular airdales came aloft to relieve the Aces, they replied with a hearty "Fuck ya'll, we're from Texas" (actually, that is just a paraphrase of what was originally said. -ed.). They told the regular Air Force to shove off.
I honestly believe these boys would have ripped the wings off flying through the gates of hell if ordered to do so on that day.
I pray for the 2,996 that suffered. I pray for the families who lost someone. I pray for the 343 who went upstairs and never came down. You knew there was a slim chance of survival, yet you went in anyway. May the Good Lord bless you and keep you safe in His arms.
I pray that America will not lose the resolve and will to fight this growing menace. I pray that my fellow Americans will stand tall in the face of all tyranny and oppression. I pray that this evil is obliterated from our lives and the lives of our children's children as I utter the immortal battle cry of our nation: "Let's Roll!"