DIEGO GARCIA, Indian Ocean (NNS) -- U.S. and British military service members, local first responders and civilians at U.S. Navy Support Facility (NSF) Diego Garcia gathered in the Turner Club’s Island Room to honor those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
This year marks the 18th anniversary of the attacks, which took the lives of 2,977 people in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as well as the lives of the innocent passengers and crew members on the hijacked planes.
Lt. Cmdr. (Chaplain) Diane Hampton offered an invocation, followed by remarks from Capt. Blake Tornga, the installation's commanding officer, in which he shared his memory of and reflections on 9/11.
“It’s important to remember and recount the impact that 9/11 had on our lives,” Tornga said. “But the true reason we gather today is that we must remember and honor the 2,977 innocent lives taken by our enemies that day.
“Remember and honor the first responders that selflessly threw themselves into the rescue effort,” Tornga continued. “To remember and honor the sacrifices made by the military professionals, civilian and uniformed, from across the globe that have fought with resolve, even from this very place, here in Diego Garcia, for the ideals that we hold sacred.”
Following Tornga’s speech, Navy chief selects recounted the events of the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Steelworker Heather Christian, a chief select who served as the master of ceremonies, recalled that at the time of the attacks, some people believed they would be the start of a war on terrorism, while others said the attacks crippled the economy.
However, she said that the former New York City mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, said it best.
“The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit,” Giuliani said following the attacks. “Instead, we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.”
Hampton said that we must never forget why we stand watch, why we are fighting and why so many of our people have given and continue to give their lives.
As attendees on this small atoll in the British Indian Ocean took time to reflect on the events that occurred 18 years ago today, Aviation Ordnanceman Juan Caceres, also a chief select, quoted then-President George W. Bush.
“Time is passing,” Bush said on Nov. 11, 2001. “Yet for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”
For more news from Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsfdg/.