Moving Forward from a U.S. Navy Military Life After 9/11

How 9/11/01 Affected the Way Americans Support the US Military Servicemen and Women

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AT2 (AW) Paul Wunsch

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AT2 (AW) Paul Wunsch

Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.

I was enlisted in the U.S. Navy and working in Bremerton, Wash. My ship, the USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz class aircraft carrier (CVN-72), was in re-work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

I, a first class petty officer, was working in a building on the pier as part of Work Test Control. This office was called WTC. As I was heading into work that morning, I kept hearing scuttlebutt (scuttlebutt is Navy talk for rumors) about an attack on WTC. I wondered who and why anyone would attack my building. When I got to the pier, everything seemed normal until I went in and saw every TV tuned in to the news. It was then that I realized it was not "my" WTC but the World Trade Center in N.Y.

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As we military men and women stood and watched the atrocities of the attacks on our turf, it prompted us to avenge the murders of innocent Americans. We quickly turned our efforts to the ship and getting her ready for sea so we could deploy to the gulf and find the people responsible for the attacks. It was amazing to see how we stepped up our resolve. Though somber, we found a new unity and motivation in the following days. On March 18th, 2002, my birthday, the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group launched air strikes and the war on terror began.

Shortly afterward, I retired from the Navy but I couldn't help feeling that I was abandoning my friends and shipmates. The camaraderie and brotherhood of Navy life was the most valuable part of being a serviceman. Every time I saw a Navy ship set sail for the gulf or heard about the Marines deploying to the Middle East, I couldn't help wanting to be there with my brothers and sisters. What lifted me up during those times of remorse and a feeling of failing to do my duty was how the events of 9-11 changed the way society supported our military members. Because there has been such an outpouring of support for our military, I feel that I can move on with my life knowing that my shipmates will be cared for.

Over the past 10 years, I have become more aware of my environs and have made a promise to myself to never stand by and allow any harm to be done to my fellow citizens. Since I can't be a volunteer for the Navy anymore, I volunteer for the San Diego American Red Cross as a CPR and First Aid instructor. I also instruct Disaster Response to prepare San Diegans for catastrophic events. I donate platelets every other month through the San Diego blood bank. Of course, I am always in touch with my friends in the military and support them in any way I can. What's more important is that America supports our military and that brings me great joy.

Thank you America!

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