US servicemen remember 9/11

Under a blazing midday sun servicemen on the front line of the US war on terror today found hope in the horror of 9/11.

Under a blazing midday sun servicemen on the front line of the US war on terror today found hope in the horror of 9/11.

American personnel and their families at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk were unflinching in their determination to beat world terror during the ceremony to remember to the thousands people who lost their lives in the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

A hush fell over the crowd as troopers carried the Star-Spangled Banner and the base's standard to a stone plaque carved with a quote by US president George Bush: “Today our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature and we responded with the very best of America”.

Emotions threatened to spill over during a haunting rendition of the British and US national anthems with servicemen still in their salutes, some biting down on their lips.

The silence at 1.46pm to mark the moment a hijacked plane hit the north tower was shattered by a car alarm - an irony not lost on Chaplain Michael Moore who said: “I wonder how many car alarms were going off that day”.

Lt Col Moore told the gathering the seismic shocks of the attacks had changed the world forever and that the American airbase was a very different place to six years ago.

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“Our lives have been changed forever by the events of that frightful day, those changes on a scale far greater than any of us could have possibly imagined,” he said.

“The bombings on July 7 are another grim reminder that our enemies are not sleeping but are prosecuting a war on the western world, on our values and our ideals.

“We are in a global war on terror and we are on the front lines. We are in this for the long haul, fighting not just against terrorists but also the fear that terror strikes in the hearts and the will of the people.

“If we lose hope and we allow them to paralyse us and stop us in our tracks then terrorists will have won. We must stand together with the world if it is to be a better place for us and future generations.”

He described how activity at the base had increased over the past five years with the base refuelling large numbers of reconnaissance, intelligence and special operations flights.

Among the prayers for the victims and their families Technical Sergeant Mervyn Seivwright read out a poem 'Tears are Crying' lamenting the agony of the lives lost.

One of the speakers, Chaplain Jason Peters, was at the scene of the Pentagon attack and counselled survivors and their families among the burning wreckage of the building.

Capt Peters said: “I could see the thick black smoke billowing from the Pentagon. It was surreal, it was a fortress on our own turf and suddenly it was under attack.

“I was there until 4am that morning, there were so many horrible tragic events. I spent time counselling a lot of people, one of the most poignant was a gentleman who had stolen a medical smock to sneak in and try and find his wife who was killed in the attack.”

Base commander Col Michael Stough said: “It is important to remember the heroes of that day, whether it is the first responders at the World Trade Centre or the passengers of United 93.

“Whether in grief, suffering or pride, we thank-you for sharing these moments with us.”

t Servicemen at an American airbase RAF Lakenheath prayed in remembrance of the terrorist attacks.

A memorial service was held at 11am where military personnel sung hymns and said prayers before a minute's silence was held across the base.

Base chaplain Capt Timothy Moermond said: “The service was an opportunity to remember September 11 and the minute of silence involved everyone across the base.”

A spokesman for RAF Lakenheath, said: “What happened on September 11, 2001, is still very much in the hearts and minds of everyone at the base.”

Meanwhile the 48th Fighter Wing at the airbase has deployed more than 165 aircraft maintainers, and support personnel to south-west Asia in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. In total more than 800 Airmen assigned to the wing were deployed.

A spokesman from RAF Lakenheath said: “Each wing Air Force-wide is required to provide and assign airmen and equipment to various AEF rotations throughout the year.

“The AEF concept is designed to complete the mission downrange and still maintain the mission at home.”

Under a blazing midday sun servicemen on the front line of the US war on terror today found hope in the horror of 9/11.

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