#964 | Tuesday, March 12th 2002
I was sound asleep when the attacks happened. The phone rang about 5 something in the morning, obviously an unusual time... in my mind I was just thinking, oh no, I hope this is not going to be some bad news about any of my family members...When I picked up the phone, my sister's voice sounded so somber and I started thinking that my premonition was true. It was actually a relief when the first thing she said was "turn on the T.V.!" She didn't have to explain anything after that. At first, I felt so numb...it just seemed so "Hollywood"...like it was only a movie or something. When they showed the people running, the fear so evident in their faces, I felt oh so sad... At work that morning, I left the television on all day so the students could witness history in the making. We discussed the history, the root problems of the attack. Unfortunately, it took a tragic event like this to have students in this generation gain a better appreciation and understanding of how history affects all of us....I'll always remember the breathtaking view of New York City at night atop the famous World Trade Center...now a part of history...
Emy Tagama Keola | 35 | Hawaii

#949 | Monday, March 11th 2002
During the attack, I was asleep. My family's daily routine starts off by getting ready for school/work...my parents was watching the news and while I was passing by their room, seeing the towers collapse caught my eye! I had gone into their room, CURIOUS about why this was happening! Knowing more about this TRAGIC situation, I felt really sad for the innocent as well as the ones that tried to save lives!
Ashley Paulo | 15 | Hawaii

#890 | Monday, March 11th 2002
I was a student at the Sorbonne, in Paris, and was waiting outside the building for my friends after the last class of the day. We had all just flown over from the U.S. the week before, as the semester had just begun. I saw my friends and we started to leave when a girl came up to us and asked us if we were American. When we said yes, she told us that a plane had just flown into the WTC and that the Pentagon had been bombed. I asked, "This must be a joke, right?", but no one answered. I was serious; I really didn't think that it had actually happened.
We ran anxiously to the cafe next door, which had a big TV by the bar. I couldn't understand most of what the newscaster was saying in rapid French, but I saw the second plane slam into the south tower and tears came into my eyes. Then the south tower collapsed as I gasped in complete horror. "My God, those people. All those people just died," I repeated, crying. The camera zoomed in on people jumping to their deaths from the other tower.
The other cafe patrons just looked at we Americans detachedly. In that one moment, we felt so isolated, so helpless, and so full of sorrow. Later, my friend from Scotland made a jab about how patriotic Americans were. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well, you said that you cried when you heard about the World Trade Center." I could not even reply. In a foreign country, we felt as if no one understood that we were not crying for our country; we were crying for the loss of innocence and human life. We were crying about the existence of such hatred in the world. Our mourning was not nationalistic.
Since September 11th, my whole view of politics has changed. My naivete was lost. I never realized the animosity that other cultures harbored towards Americans held a root in history. Seeing my confusion after the attacks, my European friends finally sat me down at dinner and told me why they and their respective countries hated America. I was confused and hurt by the anger in their voices as they spoke of American oppression. Worse, I could not even defend my country against so many others all at once. It was impossible to do so, and they didn't want to believe me. These were my friends; how could they say that they hated Americans? I could understand if they had said that they hated our foreign policy, or a certain political or economic stance, but how could one hate a country and it's citizens?
The American Embassy in Paris warned us not to look or act too American, which confused us even further. Weren't we supposed to be proud to be Americans? Did they want us to hide? We ignored the advice and went on speaking English amongst ourselves and wearing little flag pins. We wouldn't have blended in anyway.
I was pleased by the immediate support of other nations worldwide, but disappointed by individual reactions to the September 11 attacks. People need to remember that we are all one human race, and that we all suffer from such acts of hatred. Terrorism stikes everywhere, and we all have to fight it together.

Olivia | 26 | Hawaii

#883 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
I had just moved to Hawaii and flew from LA to Kauai exactly one week before the bombings. I woke up at 6am Hawaii time turned on the televion and couldn't beleive what I was seeing. I thought it must be CNN news about a movie. I sat there for a few minutes watching the planes go into the two towers as CNN reported the events that had happened. My husband and children were in California and I tried to call them since my husband is stationed at Fort Irwin California in the Army. I couldn't reach them for several hours because the lines were tied up with people trying to reach loved ones. My boss here came to my residence and told me that we would not be going to work because the Pacific Missle Range Facility was shut down and I should wait for word of when we could go to work. I sat and cried for the people lost and rejoiced as people made it out, then the terrrible news came again of two more planes, one crashing into the Pentagon and one hitting the ground in PA. I just wanted to be with my family but the only thing I could do was pray for our country and the hero's who died trying to help. The USA is the greatest country in the world and as hard as it seems, we will survive this. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!
Tami Jackson | 38 | Hawaii

#400 | Sunday, December 9th 2001
I was deployed in a submarine operating in the Western Pacific on 11 Sep 2001. Our time zone was 12 hours ahead of EDT. We received not a single piece of information from Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii) or Commander, Submarine Task Group SEVEN (COMSUBGRUSEVEN, Yokosuka, Japan) prior to what transpired below.

At approximately 2330 (11:30AM EDT) we received a peculiar message regarding an increase in Force Protection Condition (FPCON) Charlie due to "airline crashes" and "terrorist activities," or something close to that. Nothing more specific was included in this highly unusual message. I made note of this, then proceeded to the mess decks for midrats (reheated meat loaf, sandwhich meats, and other assorted leftovers). I discussed the FPCON message with some of the other crew, and specifically asked how this FPCON would affect our upcoming port call to a Southeast Asian country. They discussed the level of security that would be implemented, but seemed to believe that liberty could still be enjoyed by the crew.

After completing the meal, I returned to Radio at 2355 (11:55AM EDT) and came across the next message which set FPCON Delta, the highest FPCON level. Now really intrigued and having access to an HF receiver (the submarine was operating at periscope depth), I searched and found Voice of America (VOA) on one of its SE Asian frequencies (9760 kHz, I believe). At the top of the hour (0001, or 12:01PM EDT), the first news broke through my headphones, and I froze, hardly believing what I was hearing. I patched the audio to a DAT recorder and began recording the news. Simultaneously, I scribbled feverishly the incredible details being broadcast from New York City, Washington, D.C., and later Pennsylvania.

After getting a fair amount of REPEATED details, I called the Officer of the Deck and told him what I had heard, requesting the presence of the Command Duty Officer (the Executive Officer). The XO came into Radio a few moments later -- with a look strongly suggesting I'd better have a good reason for pulling a prank on him. I simply showed him my spiral notebook, which he perused for a few seconds, and briefed him on everything I knew. His face briefly turned white, then red. He looked at me; I nodded to assure him that the details were true. I then passed my headphones to him so he could verify the veracity of this too-hard-to-believe story. Once again, his complexion changed colors as the reality sunk in.

After another minute or two, he turned to the Radioman of the Watch (RMOW) and asked if we had received any more information from COMSUBPAC or COMSUBGRUSEVEN. The answer was negative. The XO looked at me and rhetorically asked why no one had bothered to inform the afloat submarines. We discussed whether to inform the Commanding Officer (CO), who had retired to his stateroom a couple hours earlier after a busy day. The decision was made not to bother him, as we had no marching orders from our chain of command (FPCONs don't affect an underway submarine, as there's little chance a terrorist could board a mobile, underwater platform).

Over the next several hours, we monitored various news sources, primarily VOA and BBC. It wasn't until 18 hours after our initial VOA intercept that official details started to roll down the chain of command. But the CO didn't wait until then before informing the entire crew via the 1MC (public address) what had transpired. By then, we had transcripts of President George Bush's speeches to the U.S. and the world. So, at 0600 (6:00PM EDT), the CO delivered the President's fiery quotes in such a manner as to immediately incite the crew to avenge the horrible acts that had befallen our citizens. However, a few crew members either had family in the affected cities or grew up there. More than a few tears fell that next morning.

And to add to the misery, advancement exams were being administered that morning. As the results from those exams have just been released this week, and I am no longer deployed in that submarine, I am unaware how those events may have affected the Sailors who participated in that exam cycle.

Over the next two weeks, we continued to monitor various news reports and provide e-mail updates to the entire crew via the ship's LAN. Of course, the XO had to proof the e-mails to ensure we weren't releasing potentially "explosive" information (less we accidentally release the name of a Sailor's kin or friend before being officially informed by the Red Cross). Copies of the e-mailed reports could be found in every work center, on the mess decks, posted in the Mid-Level passageway, and even in the heads (restrooms, for the uninitiated). Anytime I walked out of Radio, I was quickly bombarded with questions regarding the latest details.

We stopped monitoring the airwaves after two weeks, as we couldn't take it anymore. To be completely bombarded with this tragedy and have no way to release the anger or frustration was not healthy. And by this time, our chain of command had finally gotten around to providing its deployed submarines with regular (every 12 hours, or so) updates.

Although we were immersed in the gory details of 11 Sep broadcast over the airwaves, no one was really prepared to see the first video images when we hit our first port on 28 Sep. I rushed to the nearest television and finally saw a replay of one of the airliners crashing into the World Trade Center. I felt the emotion building up as I then watched a replay of a tribute to the victims during a Major League Baseball game. And then it finally hit me, and I had to turn off the TV.

I didn't watch any more news until I returned home a few days later. A friend of mine had made a copy of a network news broadcast during the first weekend after the tragic events. I replayed that tape many times, still thinking how unreal the shots were...

I would like to finish the story by letting the readers know that the thoughts of every Sailor on that submarine was with every victim, survivor, and United States citizen during those terrible days. And they were ready to fire their weapons in anger...when tasked...

Robert Burns | 35 | Hawaii

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