WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy community remembered 9/11 and honored those who lost their lives with somber tributes held across the United States and around the globe on Tuesday as people paused to commemorate the events that changed the world.
Special ceremonies were held on the three naval ships that bear the names of the 9/11 crash sites. Three years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 and injured more than 6,000 others when hijacked airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001, the Navy announced it would commission three ships to honor victims and first responders.
One of the commemorations was on the USS New York (LPD 21), named in honor of New York City where American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center.
"It's really difficult to pause and take a break and for us to remember," said Capt. Brent DeVore, commanding officer of USS New York said during the ceremony. "But that is precisely what we must do ... We must never allow 9/11 to simply be a day when the flag flies at half-mast. Here we honor 9/11 every day."
USS New York, which was commissioned in 2009, has been a vessel of remembrance and a force that fortifies the nation’s future with its motto: “Strength Forged Through Sacrifice – Never Forget.” The amphibious transport dock ship returned to homeport at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, Sept. 19 last year, after it was deployed to various locations of duty. The ship had passed the World Trade Center site for the first time and gave the site a 21-gun salute Nov. 2, 2009.
New York’s bow stem includes 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site. Among the other reminders of 9/11 on the ship are a plate of steel from the twin towers displayed above one of the ship’s ramps and a firefighter’s uniform worn by a first responder, placed where the Sailors can see it every day.
Learn more about USS New York.
Sailors paid tribute to the 9/11 victims during ceremonies also aboard two other ships dedicated and named after the locations where 9/11 attacks occurred. USS Arlington (LPD 24), named in honor of Arlington County, Virginia, where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west wall of the Pentagon, carries a “Tribute Room” that includes a section of an I-Beam and remnants from the site. USS Arlington, whose motto is “Strength, Honor, Fortitude,” came to life April 6, 2013.
Learn more about USS Arlington.
Another U.S. Navy ship honoring the victims and first responders is USS Somerset (LPD 25). It was named for the county in Pennsylvania where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field. The Somerset has 22 tons of steel in its bow stem from mining excavations present at the crash site.
Commissioned March 1, 2014, Somerset’s motto is “Let’s Roll!” which has a special significance. Todd Beamer, a passenger on Flight 93 had made an inflight call to a call center to report that their plane was hijacked. After prayers with the operator, he had left the phone, and his last words were, “Let’s roll,” to attempt a heroic action with some other passengers and the crew to stop the plane from reaching its intended target by forcing it to crash in Somerset County.
USS Somerset posted on its Facebook page Tuesday:
“Sept. 11, 2018. 17 years since that horrific day. We recall the fear, the shock, the anger and the stories of what happened in the skies over western Pennsylvania in the days following the attacks. Our proud ship is named in memory and in the spirit of those 40 then-ordinary people who came together to stand, to fight, to attack. Representing the ship at the Flight 93 National Memorial for the annual ceremonies were ABH3 Andrew LaFay, HM3 Luis Murillo, Chaplain Aaron Walling and Captain Stewart Bateshansky. Following the ceremonies, we were asked to participate in the wreath laying at the wall of names, and then accompanied family members of the 40 heroes of Flight 93 to the boulder marking the point of impact. At the end we visited with the firefighters at the Shanksville Fire Department, the first and closest responders on September 11th, 2001. It was a heavy, powerful, professionally fulfilling day. Never forget.”
Learn more about USS Somerset.
In the nation’s capital, the American flag was unfurled on the west side of the Pentagon near the 9/11 Memorial at sunrise Sept. 11 in recognition of the victims of the terrorist attacks. The U.S. Naval Academy Glee Band was ready at the observance ceremony at the Pentagon in front of the stars and stripes.
As the country honored the lives that were lost and the courage exhibited by many people, flags were flown at half-staff, #NeverForget hashtag remained at top on Twitter for most of the day, remembrance walks or runs were held in various locations, and solemn statements came in from officials on the anniversary of the tragic day.
Hundreds of Sailors stationed at several locations around the country looked back on 9/11. Sailors stationed at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Keesler held a 9/11 commemoration ceremony at the Keesler Air Force Base headquarters flagpole aboard Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Tuesday.
Onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, 60 chief petty officer selects, under the supervision of more than 120 chief petty officers from the Pensacola-area and Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station CPO Mess, participated in a 9/11 commemoration.
Tributes around the World
Naval Support Facility (NSF) Deveselu held a ceremony to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. NSF Deveselu Commanding Officer Capt. Charlos Washington, the Romania Minister of National Defense Mihai-Viorel Fifor and the United States Ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm were at the ceremony.
“Today we are here to remember those that lost their lives during a tragic event that shook both our nations to their core,” said Washington. “The attacks that took place on September 11th affected both our nations, and through this tragedy our alliance has remained strong. The attacks on 9/11 killed nearly 3,000 people from 93 nations, including four victims from Romania.”
Though the attacks happened in the U.S., they had rippling effects throughout the globe.
“On the surface many would not think 9/11 had an impact on Romania, but an attack on our friends is an attack on us all,” said Fifor. “This principle is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty and remains a unique and enduring principle that binds us together. Romania and the United States share a special bond, a spirit of friendship and solidarity that will last well into the future. While this attack was one that took place on American soil and shook us to our core, it is also an attack that showed how strong we are together.”
September 11 was the first time in history that NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty said Fifor. Article 5 states that an attack against one or more members of NATO is an attack against all of them. NATO members consider the invocation of Article 5 as a call to action to support and protect a country, within the alliance.
Although 9/11 is a day of mourning, Klemm said he wanted to mark the day with a story of partnership and friendship.
“This story is one that is vital to our safety, to our security, and to our way of life,” said Klemm. “This story of friendship between the United States and Romania is one that goes back 100 years and through the support here, I am confident that this story will continue long into the future. Naval Support Facility Deveselu is a tenant of the 99th Military Base Deveselu, and we greatly appreciate their hospitality. Romania's agreement to host this ballistic missile defense site is a clear display of their value of the security of the NATO alliance.”
In Japan, dozens of chief petty officers and chief petty officer selectees from Yokosuka-area commands commemorated 9/11 with morning colors at the Commander, Naval Forces Japan flagpole and a memorial ceremony in front the Chief Petty Officers Club.
Participating commands included USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19); U.S. 7th Fleet; Commander, Submarine Group 7; Commander, Naval Surface Warfare Group Pacific; Commander, Naval Forces Japan and Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
Capt. Rich Dromerhauser, Commander, Naval Surface Group Western Pacific, emphasized the importance of training and readiness. Events like this, he said, motivate the Navy to fight, compete and win in all areas of global threats.
“Most of you came in after the date we are talking about,” said Dromerhauser. “I ask you now as the young chief selects, as you start taking on greater leadership responsibilities, you have the opportunity to serve in the cloth of our nation. Take time to teach others.”
Dromerhauser and Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Fire Chief Richard Henderson, then led approximately 100 Yokosuka-area chief petty officers and selects on a half-mile march to the Chief Petty Officer Club, where they laid a wreath at the 9/11 memorial.
The American and Italian flags flew side-by-side at half-mast at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, as American and Italian service members, firefighters, law enforcement personnel and civilians gathered together to commemorate the lives lost on 9/11.
Many who attended took the opportunity to reflect on the anniversary of 9/11 and how it has directly affected them during their lives. Musician 3rd Class Carega Raymond was 13-years-old at the time of the events and could see the smoke from his house in New Jersey.
“9/11 is a day I will always remember,” said Raymond. “I had a lot of friends that worked and lived in the city on 9/11. I had a lot of friends who lost their parents and loved ones. I lost some cousins, and so this day is always a little harder for me. The events of 9/11 have made everyone in the country a little more connected. What we say in New York is ‘Never Forget.’”
In Cibuti, petty officers 1st class recently selected to chief petty officer forward deployed to Camp Lemonnier and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, conducted a remembrance ceremony there on Sept. 11.
Hundreds of service members, military personnel from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, as well as coalition military members and base civilian employees participated in the ceremony.
A flag detail made up of the 19 Sailors selected to chief, marched 2,977 paces to the flag pole at the headquarters building on base to represent the number of lives lost in New York City, the Pentagon and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Stories of the events that occurred at each site were read and punctuated with a single bell ring. Additionally, four American flags meant to symbolize the four flights involved in the attacks were ceremonially retired.
“It’s an emotional and powerful day in the history of our nation and our Navy,” Command Master Chief Jon H. Morton said. “I’m proud of our chief selects and the great job they did helping us put in perspective what it truly means to serve our country. We were all affected by a single act; somewhere, somehow.”
Constitution Crew Honors Victims of 9/11
The crew of USS Constitution and the public commemorated 9/11 to honor and pay respects to the men and women impacted by the events. The ceremony began at 8:46 a.m. with a gun salute marking the impact of the Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City and concluded with the playing of taps at 10:28 a.m. to mark the collapse of the North Tower.
During the ceremony, Constitution Sailors and guest speakers shared their experiences on what they were doing before, during and after the attacks. USS Constitution’s 75th Commanding Officer Cmdr. Nathaniel R. Shick told his experience as a junior officer witnessing the events of the day.
“I was stationed in Newport, Rhode Island, not too far from here,” said Shick, who was, at the time, an ensign training at Surface Warfare Officers School. “My classmates and I had just finished our first class of the day. We were enjoying a cup of coffee when we heard on the news that there had been an attack. We all gathered around the TV and watched the events play out for the next three hours essentially stunned into silence by the horrific actions we saw. Despite the tragedy, we rallied around the courage and bravery we saw in the men and women, the firefighters, the police department, and the average citizens not only in New York City, but also in Washington and in the fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.”
Constitution, America’s Ship of State, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797-1855. The World’s Oldest Commissioned Warship Afloat, Constitution embodies 220 years of maritime heritage and unwavering service to her country. Constitution is berthed at Pier One in Charlestown Navy Yard.
Naval War College Reflects on 9/11
U.S. Naval War College (NWC) hosted a remembrance ceremony commemorating 9/11. The event took place in the college’s Spruance Auditorium and honored those who gave their lives in the attacks. The event also paid special tribute to three NWC students and eight alumni who were killed.
“Seventeen years ago today our country and its citizens were forever changed,” said NWC’s President Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley. “Just as the attack on Pearl Harbor 60 years earlier changed the course of the country, so too the events of Sept. 11, 2001 changed our country and ourselves.”
Patriots Memorial, located on the NWC campus, is made from a section of limestone removed from the damaged portion of the Pentagon. The names of the 11 fallen are inscribed on the memorial, which was dedicated in September 2002.