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What's your 9/11 story? Senior Master Sgt. Brenda Chase

Senior Master Sgt. Brenda Chase, 162nd Fighter Wing, Tucson, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Angela Walz)

Senior Master Sgt. Brenda Chase, 162nd Fighter Wing, Tucson, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Angela Walz)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- On Sep 11, 2001, I had been working on what needed to be done for an upcoming inspection. All of a sudden, a coworker came running down the hall saying that the Pentagon had just been attacked.

We all dropped our work and ran to the break room to watch the news. At that time it was showing the World Trade Center with the first tower after the plane went in and we were just in time to see the second airplane go into the tower.

No one spoke as they could not believe what they were witnessing. Within the hour, the 162nd went into Threatcon Delta. All of us were scheduled right away to pull door guard duty due to the Threatcon. During my watch, I struggled to get my mind around what was happening to my country, so I just prayed.

Later in the morning hours the whole base joined forces to help maintenance convert some of the training jets to alert jets and get the necessary equipment to Davis-Monthan [Air Force Base] to support the new Alert Detachment.

The hardest part of that day was when they sent the majority of the base home. It was for our protection, but still I joined [the military] to defend America and my unit and to go home--I felt like I was not fulfilling my oath for my country.

I was single at that time and while at home I was watching all the people on the news weep and cry for their loved ones, and their sadness engulfed my heart. I finally went and stayed with friends as it was too hard for me to be alone.

For a long time after 9/11 (or so it seemed) we could not leave base at any time in our uniforms unless it was in a government vehicle. That is when I felt that my freedom as I knew it had changed forever.

Since that time, I have become more alert of my surroundings, especially off base. I have seen the entrance to the unit change from one lane to two in the morning hours. I have seen Davis-Monthan change their entrances as well.

When I joined the Air Force in 1974, women never shot an M16. I was placed on mobility and for the first time in my life at age 45, I learned to shoot an M16, had the Chemical Warfare Training, practiced Self Aid and Buddy Care, and the list goes on for mobility requirements.

The startup of my computer now requires a CAC [common access card] with a password instead of just turning it on and starting to work. I went from not carrying my ID card around the base to carrying it all the time. The flightline was open to just about everyone, too. Now you must have your restricted area badge--I only got restricted badges for TDYs, not home station. That has all changed.

As my parents shared with me their feelings when Pearl Harbor was attacked and how it affected America, it taught me to respect my country and her flag. As we share our stories, I hope that young people of today that were born after 9/11 or were too young to remember will learn about what happened that day, learn to respect Old Glory every day of their lives and appreciate the freedoms that America still has today.


Editor's note:

Ten years after Sept. 11, 2001, 162nd Fighter Wing members recall where they were that fateful day, and reaffirm their commitment to serve in the Arizona Air National Guard. Do you have a story to share? If so, email it to 162fw.pa.omb@ang.af.mil for posting here on the wing's official website.