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NETC Remembers 9/11

13 September 2021

From Carla McCarthy, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs Office

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) observed the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by conducting a memorial ceremony at Naval Air Station Pensacola Sept. 10.
The ceremony honored the victims and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed 2,977 people in New York City and Washington, D.C. and on United Flight 93.

Rear Adm. Pete Garvin, NETC commander, spoke about how many members of the NETC staff can recall exactly where they were when they learned about the attacks.  They were located around the world, and some were even serving at NETC during the time, watching events unfold on live TV.

“Some of us know someone who lost their life or were injured in some form that day,” said Garvin.  “We know survivors who have grappled with physical or invisible wounds…  We may know shipmates and colleagues who were directly involved in the immediate response at the Pentagon.  We may have heard some of their stories as they bravely recounted them in past remembrance ceremonies similar to today’s.”

Garvin also reflected on how Sept. 11 evokes deep emotions and memories and the importance of remembering that fateful day.

“A number of our Navy and Department of Defense teammates have lived their entire lives in a post-9/11 world, and that is one of the reasons why we should continue to pause and remember, and reflect on the events that unfolded 20 years ago at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania,” said Garvin.  “We must renew our commitment to never forget.”

Two members from the staff shared their own stories and experiences from 9/11.

Wayne Killingsworth, NETC’s cyber security program manager, was serving aboard USS La Salle (AGF-3), the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, homeported in Gaeta, Italy.  Sailors gathered around a big-screen TV on the mess desks as the news began to stream live, and Killingsworth was in the chief’s mess when the second plane struck the World Trade Center as the news continued to cover the events live.

“We all knew at the time it was terrorism,” said Killingsworth.  “When the third plane struck the Pentagon, the decision was made to secure the brows, the pier, man all the gun mounts, and knowing the ship would better defend itself at sea, we began making preparations to get underway as soon as possible.”

La Salle’s crew adapted to a new mission as a maritime interdiction platform in the Mediterranean Sea and remained underway until able to safely return to port, where the crew faced concerns about every boat or plane that came too near the perimeter.

“Everyone was on pins and needles, and no one watchstander wanted to be the one who hesitated and allowed harm to come to his shipmates,” said Killingsworth. “At the same time they didn’t want to be responsible for harming an innocent civilian who inadvertently strayed too close to the ship.  That was a lot of responsibility for the young, some 18 or 19-year-old Sailors, standing those watches, many of whom remained on active duty and are now approaching the end of their military careers.”

He honored the memory of Cmdr. Patrick Dunn, who was killed in the attack at the Pentagon, where he had been working in the Navy Command Center.  Dunn had recently departed the La Salle after a tour as the ship’s executive officer. 

“Cmdr. Dunn was a great guy, who loved being underway,” said Killingsworth.  “He was one of those folks who was full of life, who people gravitated to both on the ship and on the beach.  As it did with many communities throughout the U.S., 9/11 hit very close to home to the small Navy community in Gaeta.  While the loss of Cmdr. Dunn was tragic, it also instilled a resolve in the crew to ensure justice was delivered to the people responsible for the murder of almost 3,000 people on American soil.”

Capt. Nate Straub, NETC’s director of facilities and logistics, shared how he was a lieutenant assigned to the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction office in San Diego.  As he did most mornings, he went for a run and noticed that the traffic was especially bad throughout Coronado.  After setting out for work by bicycle, he remained unaware of the attacks, considering it was in a time before social media, smart phones, and instant news. 

Upon approaching the gate as he was accustomed to, he was taken by surprise at the swift and strong response he encountered, as the guards responded to him as a potential threat.  After being closely searched and informed of the events, he went to his office in shock and turned on the news, contemplating how it would change the world and the U.S. Navy.

“While this story carries none of the suffering and pain, personal loss so many others do when recounting the events of that day, it does remind me that it’s unwise and useless to take for granted one’s purpose or value in serving,” said Straub.  “For it is likely to change, and it can change in just an instant.  What is immutable, however, is our sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the country whose course it directs.”

The ceremony concluded with a two-bell ceremony to remember those who died at the World Trade Center; Pentagon; American Airlines Flights 11 and 77; United Airlines Flights 93 and 175; New York City Fire Department; Port Authority Police Department; New York City Police Department; and emergency services.

Naval Education and Training Command is the U.S. Navy’s Force Development pillar and largest shore command.  Through its “Street to Fleet” focus, NETC recruits civilians and transforms them into skilled warfighters ready to meet the current and future needs of the U.S. Navy.

For more information on NETC, visit


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