Memories recalled from the 9/11 terrorist attack
September 11, 2001, a day all will recall hearing the news of aerial assaults on the United States. Planes, high-jacked by terrorists, crashed in the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York City; the Pentagon at the nation’s capital; and a forced downing near Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania.
All air traffic was halted while government buildings were evacuated in Washington, D.C. President George W. Bush, new to the office, was in Florida at the time. In a statement to the nation Bush called for a moment of silence saying, “May God bless the victims, their families, and America,” his voice broke with emotion.
At the time, officials predicted the death toll would top 5,000. This began the ‘War on Terrorism’ targeting Bin Laden, leader to the Taliban suspected of formulating the attack after a failed 1998 bombing attempt in the basement of the Twin Towers.
At The Luminary office, then on Muncy’s South Main Street, editor Vivian Dailey was nearing the weekly deadline. Into the office came Jim Lundy, the paper’s advertising salesman, who was the first to tell us the news he’d heard on the car radio. All in the office were unaware of the attack. Daily quickly rearranged the paper’s layout, took off the internet a photo of the burning towers with just minutes to spare before the deadline.
In The Luminary the following week, a ‘Person on the Street’ segment was printed with remarks from Bob Bitler, Liza Anderson, Steve Crawford and Jennifer Richards of Muncy, Barb Pepper of Hughesville and Lucas Bird of Montgomery.
Nineteen years later we were out and about in Montgomery and posed the question, “Where were you and what were you doing when you heard the news?”
Sam Andrews – Quarter Master 1st Class-Surface Warfare retired. “I was with the Navy attached to the USS Mahan DDG 72, off the East coast 300 miles when we got the alert. Although we were weaponless, we had radar so we were ordered to the entrance of New York harbor where we watched the skies identifying whether planes were friend or foe. Shortly our ship went to Georgetown, Virginia, and loaded up with weapons being stationed four days at Norfolk Naval Station.” Andrews is a 20-year Navy veteran.
Jean (Phillips) Englert, Montoursville, pictured with daughter Emaleah who she was expecting at the time. “I was home schooling at the time. My oldest daughter, Christine Swisher, was in Lancaster where she heard the news and phoned me.” Jean is currently fundraising to aid Operation Christmas Child filling shoe boxes for the Billy Graham Ministries annual outreach.
Cynthia Bryan, Montgomery’s part time librarian said, “At the time, I was the secretary for the warden at the Federal Corrections Institute in Allenwood. He was in an important meeting leaving orders not to be disturbed. After I heard the news on the radio, I went to his office saying he might want to hear this. Two hours later, my son phoned from the aircraft carrier from where they were stationed in the Arabian Sea. Each sailor was given one minute for a message, he used it to say he loved me.”
Shawn Coles, Montgomery, “I was living in New Jersey but was here visiting my mom at Wolf Run Apartments. I was just coming down the stairs after waking up and saw the news on the television. I was dumbfounded. I worried how I’d get back home as I lived in Bergen, New Jersey, close to New York City.”
Monnie, owned by Charles Hartzell, retired Marine of Montgomery, is an English Bull Dog a breed chosen as a mascot representing the Marine Corps. Though Charles lauded bravery as a component of the Marines, he chose not to pose for the camera. Instead, he said we could take a picture of his girlfriend and invited us to his vehicle to do so. Expecting to meet a human girlfriend, we met Monnie. Of 9/11 Hartzell said, “I was working for my late long-time friend of Bloomsburg, a contractor who installed luxury bathrooms. We didn’t have work that day so we were painting an apartment house in Wilkes-Barre when a tenant invited me inside to see the news. I was still watching three hours later when my boss came to check on how I was doing. I didn’t see an event like that coming.”
Tammy Rupert, Montgomery, pictured with Brady who she was expecting at the time. “I was in the kitchen canning pears with my friend Jen. My husband Bradley called from Muncy Homes where he was working at the time. The guys in the drywall department heard the news over the radio on KISS-FM.” The Ruperts are a military family with two sons currently serving and another about to be inducted.
Jacob Stutzman, Hughesville, “We were living in Philly over a four year period while my dad was attending medical school. My mom (Melissa) came to pick me up at kindergarten. As I was young, I don’t remember anymore than that so the news didn’t effect me too much at the time.”