We were in our last day in theatre when it happened. What are the odds; the last day of work and one of the most terrifying days in US history all wrapped up into one. I was totally stoked to be coming home until I walked up to the armory for the night shift. I quickly learned that the world we knew had changed forever. I was sent out to a post on top of a building that was outside the base fenceline (pic from above BEFORE 9/11). You were all by yourself on top of a vacant apartment building. The door to the bottom of the building was chained shut from the outside once you got in. It overlooked more vacant buildings that could have been cover for just about anyone with a rifle that wanted to take your head off. Why was there a post there? We were watching an access road that led to the base. Also, the building directly next door is where Gen. Schwartskopf ran the first Desert Storm from (its the white building in the pic). My post was directly to the right on top of the building).
The events of 9/11 happened around 3-4pm in Saudi Arabia. The timing of the day looked like it does in the pictures above. I was posted on the building by myself as they were calling in everyone that happened to be off that night. Around 8pm it was dark as hell and I saw a person walking up from the access gate in the bottom picture. I couldn't make out who it was and I had no indication that I was getting an "alpha" for the night. I trained my rifle on the individual with my heart racing for the next few minutes, trying to ascertain whether they were a threat or not. Next, I heard someone opening the chains trying to access the building. I had my rifle sights on the door to the roof of the building, ready to smoke whoever walked through the door. A few minutes later I saw who the night-man was; It was Adam. Fucker. I almost shit my pants and shot my best friend. "Whats up dude!?"
We sat all night talking about what was going on back home and how everything we knew as fresh airmen was about to change. 11 years later and It feels like it was yesterday. I can still smell the Saudi air and get the same feeling of rage when I think about it. For the next few weeks we were there the Saudi people would drive by our base honking their horns and cheering in support of what had happened. Our base was on a main highway so we heard it a lot. Let me tell you, a person will honk and cheer until they are looking down the barrel of an M-60. Trust me.
9/11 is a day to reflect. Reflect on those lost and those we continue to lose over this great tragedy. It reminds me of who we are and where were going. Regardless of political affiliation, we need to make a serious change in this country. I'll leave it at that.