USS Harry S. Truman, At Sea (NNS) -- Deployed in support of ground forces in Afghanistan, Sailors and Marines aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) reflected on the reason for their current mission during the nine year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
For many service members, the anniversary is a reminder of why they chose to serve.
Airman Ismayda Acquie, a New York native assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS-7), was a 14 year old high school student when the planes struck the twin towers.
She hurried home to find her mother crying. Her father, an off-duty policeman, lost his life while trying to help manage the chaos that followed the attacks.
Although Acquie keenly remembers the grief and months of quiet that filled the city, she also recalled it as a time when strangers came together in acts of love, generosity, humility, and gratitude.
"People would hug each other on trains and hold one another as they cried," said Acquie. "Every time you saw a police officer or a firefighter, they were surrounded by people shaking their hands and saying 'thank you'."
Nine years later, Acquie has found healing through her military service.
"I can't stand to see people hurt," said Acquie. "Being assigned to a helicopter squadron is perfect for me. I love that our helos are involved in search and rescue missions and medical evacuations."
Aviation Electrician's Mate Third Class Kenneth Ross, from Stockton, Ca., remembered turning on the news at home before leaving for school and thinking he was watching a movie.
"I was shocked when I realized what was actually going on," said Ross. "It's one of those things that you think are inconceivable."
Now on his first deployment, Ross is careful not to let outside prejudices influence his interactions with new people.
"I try to keep an open mind," said Ross. "I'm not going to let an extremist group shape my idea of what a culture or religion is like."
Senior crewmembers onboard Truman who were on active duty on Sept. 11, 2001, distinctly remember exactly where they were stationed and the immediate call to duty they felt upon hearing the news.
Heading to his duty station in Bremerton, Wash., Culinary Specialist Senior Chief (SW/AW) Darryl Carr noticed that all but one of the base gates were secured. He finally made it to his office and saw all of his co-workers fixated around the TV.
"We provide a blanket of security by being out here so that people back home can sleep safely at night," said Carr. "We're out here to prevent another attack from happening back home."
Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Todd Rose, from Allen Park, Mi., was returning home after a night check shift at Norfolk Naval Base. He had just finished working out when he got a call from his wife to turn on the TV. He watched in disbelief as the second jet struck the tower and rushed back to the base to see if he could help.
Now with six deployments and 17 years of service, Rose wants to invest in a safer future for his two young sons.
"I don't like to dwell on the past too much," said Rose. "But terrorism is a global disease, a cancer, and like a cancer, it's something the world should take seriously."
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