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Remembering Sept 11th from a Soldiers perspective

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  • (This is dedicated to remembering Sept 11th to all of our Armed Service Personnel and our Allies)

    .This is not an opinion piece. Though mind you I am an expert at writing them. I have written letters to the editor since 1984. Many of them have been published.
    However, this is a first person account piece from a former Air Force policeman, who came into the military during the so-called cold war in Western Europe. My time was in 1984. The place was high in the mountains of West Germany. It was called Hahn Air base. Located in a place called the Hundsruck. Translated from Deutsch (German) to english. Literally it means the "hounds tooth." Now that sounds nasty. But you don't know the half of it. Holidays for soldiers are even nastier. Don't get me wrong. Germany (Deutschland) is a beautiful place especially around Christmas. But duty is duty. And it makes everything look gloomy.

    I am looking at a yellowish newspaper clipping. Of course it is sort of tattered. I have had it since December 1984. My parents sent it to me. I was in Germany. Remember the aforementioned "hounds tooth." Now I am sure I am getting the best of everyones curiosity as to what does the old news clipping and holidays have in common. My parents sent it to me from Hampton/Newport News Virginia. It had a picture of a young Air Force security policeman in front of a fighter aircraft carrying his M-16. The soldier could have been me. The date on the paper is December 24th 1984. Almost close to CHRISTmas. But though as you patrol the flight line guarding and protecting sophisticated planes, resources vital to National Security and personnel. In your heart if you believe that way. You know the reason for the season. But then you know you are a soldier be you an Airman,Army soldier,Marine,Navy seaman,Coast Guardsman or whatever your branch of service. Duty comes
    first and mission.

    So from day one when I made it through my first "Un-Merry CHRISTmas" I realized that holidays were just another day for a soldier. I was at a gate one day. Guarding an area from my ECP (entry control point) that housed jets. Vehicles were coming in and out and people were wishing me season greetings and Merry Christmas. And I in turn would do the same. Only realizing that I'd just started my duty. Perhaps I'd take a bite of my cold cookie or the cupcakes someone left me that I quickly put in my gate shack to keep from dropping them.

    While others were asleep in there homes that night or out celebrating with friends. I counted the hours until my shift was over. Thinking back to that time over twenty years ago. I can still remember the silence on the flight line. When the planes were still and no activity was happening. I can hear the crunch of the snow under my boots. I peer out in the darkness. Looking for friend and foe alike. This is what I was trained for and this is what I signed on the dotted line to do.

    The last time I'd replay my duty without the Christmas holiday was when I was called back to active duty. To my unit the 315th Security Police squadron on Charleston Air Force base after the United States was attacked on September 11th. I remember some school kids passing out cookies. I am so glad that they put the name of their school on them. After 911 so many were pouring out support for the soldiers. I thought I'd repay the favor. So I went to the Base Exchange and bought a stuffed Bear with Air Force logo and with a beret. And I took it back to them in Mount Pleasant South Carolina. I am happy to re-paying in tribute by writing this piece about the military and holidays.

    I left the military with honor as a Staff Sergeant /E-5 with ten years total time as a personnel specialist and mostly as a cop. From 1984 to 2001 you learn alot. I salute all who serve in and out of uniform. Who sometimes must put family,friends,loved ones and their lives and holidays on hold in order to guard,defend and protect.


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Thank you, Chip1961,  for your service to our country and the remembrance of that awful day, which in some ways still feels like yesterday.  Your story of your service was deeply moving.  The WWII (my father served in in the Army Air Corps) song I'll Be Home for Christmas comes to mind, reading about your lonely holiday.  For the last several years a local business sent special coffee to soldiers.  Customers could buy the coffee and write a message to a soldier.  I always wondered who received mine, and hoped for their safely.


Whatever our views are on the various wars and conflicts, the soldiers should always be lauded and remembered.  


Thank you.


I should add, while I have respect for those who served, I also respect those who, for whatever reason, chose not to.

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