Local veterans remember 9/11

Randy Kessler

• U.S. Air Force veteran

• Marshalltown Police Department detective

• Commander, Frank Lewis Glick American Legion Post 46, Marshalltown

“I remember I was at work the morning of 9/11 and was on State Street near Tenth Avenue when a morning disc jockey announced a plane had just hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The first reports were speculation the aircraft may have been a small private plane that somehow hit the tower. Fifteen minutes later when the South Tower was hit, I went to police headquarters.

We all gathered around a television to watch the coverage of the towers burning, the Pentagon being hit and Flight 93 going down in Pennsylvania. I felt a mixture of anger and helplessness and would have given anything to be back in the military.

I was also proud of our country seeing the way the people rallied around our leaders, the military and the wave of patriotism that swept across our country. For a brief period we were all one.

Today I would like residents to remember how they felt that day, and why they felt what they did. And to remember our troops and country are still fighting that same fight to keep 9/11 from ever happening again.”

Timon Oujiri

• Col. (Retired) U.S. Army

• Commandant, Iowa Veterans Home

“Tuesday, September 11, 2001 was a beautiful, sunny day in Washington D.C. I was still on active duty, stationed at the Pentagon. After a couple hours at my desk I had begun my workout in the gym and saw on the news that there was an “accident” in New York City; a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

I called my wife, Sandy and said she should turn on the news. I was headed out for a run and would call her later. Toward the end of my run I was near National Airport and could hear an aircraft accelerating. Not only was this abnormal for an approaching aircraft, but I had noticed all planes on the tarmac were backed up to the terminal. Very strange, I thought, something’s terribly wrong.

At that moment I heard the impact, saw the fireball and smoke, and felt the shock-wave from the quarter mile distance. My immediate thought was, “Some bastard’s hit my building!” That was the only time I’ve ever felt an emotional attachment to a structure. At that point Army training kicked in and I ran directly to my Pentagon to help with rescue which actually turned into recovery.