Fallen but not forgotten

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ruben Rios
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

September 11, 2023 marks the 22nd anniversary of the largest terrorist attack on American soil.

Many lives were lost that day including 343 FDNY members, 23 NYPD officers, 37 Port Authority Officers, and a total of 2,977 lives overall.

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 514th Civil Engineer Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., made it a point to honor those fallen with a remembrance run September 10, 2023.

The remembrance run went from the squadron building to the fire station where Airmen from the 514th CES stood at attention for a moment of silence to honor those who passed.

Following the ceremony, both Chief Master Sgt. Leonard Werner, 514th AMW command chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Dana Michael Walton, 514th CES fire and emergency service chief, (both who served as police officers during the September 11th attack), spoke about the importance of this day.

September 11th is a day in history I will never forget,” said Werner, who served in the Mount Laurel Township Police Department, Burlington County. “That day, and afterwards, many first responders, civilians, and military personnel were willing to and have sacrificed their lives in defense of this country. September 11th is a day that has driven my career and desire to serve.”

That desire was evident, as Werner described traveling with his partner from New Jersey to New York City, hoping to help in anyway. He ended up moving rubble and debris trying to save any survivors or bringing closure to the families of missing people.

Walton described a similar story of how the attack shaped his life and career.

“At the time, I had approximately two years on the job,” said Walton, who served as an NYPD officer at the 30th precinct. “I found myself down at the towers with everyone else, trying to help however we could.”

On this day, the lives lost, the sacrifices, and the service of so many Americans motivated both Werner and Walton to continue their service as police officers and to the United States Air Force.

“We try to honor those who have fallen,” said Walton. “Everyone here has a purpose or a reason why they serve. It is important for all of us to assure that we continue to understand that many people gave their lives that day and that we still continue with those efforts, whether stateside or abroad.”

The seriousness of 9/11 could be felt in the air, and the pride of the members of the 514th CES was evident as they closed out the ceremony with 22 four-count pushups for each year passed, to honor those who may have fallen, but will certainly never be forgotten.