"Say, does this look funny to you?"

Monday, September 11, 2006

My 9/11 Story

I was living outside of Savannah in a small town called Hinesville during September 11th. If you're military now or former, you may recognize it as the home of Ft. Stewart Army base. During my stay there, I was the program director for a radio station that only got 25,000 watts and barely got across the 30 mile radius from there to Savannah, but it sounded great when I had it. There was only a staff of three there that day: myself, General Manager John Rodriguez and his wife Yvonne, who handled the office stuff. I was the first through the door that morning to get the sydicated "Bob and Sheri" show on the air at six am. Things were going well on my side until after 8 that mrning. That's when over the air, show host Sheri Lynch mentioned a bulletin that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. I looked up at the little tv I had in the studio and noticed that cameras where already on the scene, showing the smoke coming from the building. I stood by waiting to hear reports from the site, when I saw saw the second plane hit. A gasp came over the air from the show as it happened and I was in shock. Soon reports came in from a plane crash in a field and then soon after, one hitting the Pentagon. "Bob and Sheri" quickly left the air and suddenly CNN Radio News took over the satellite and began reports on what was going on as the Trade Center was coming down and bodies were coming out of windows to get to safety. I stayed at the board to keep the station under control while the phiones were ringing off the hook in the studio. I briefly went on the air to assure listeners that we would be staying on the story and forgoing music for as long as it mattered to find out what was happening. Being in a military town, I also needed to find out if we were under state of emergency. I called in John and he took over the board while I left to find out any new information at the base and from the town's emergency management agency.

Suddenly, I went from being a jokey disc jockey to a broadcaster. I was determined to find out what has going on and how this would effect us. I took a pocket tape recorder and got repsonses from local folks in the Wal-mart, folks whoes loved ones are in the military and who would now have to go off to war to find the culprits. The fear in their voice and the tears in their ieyes shook me, but I had to hold on to get the story for those who needed to know. I got to the base try and find someone, anyone who could tell me what was happening and what needed to be done. The base immediatly wnet on lockdown, only permitting anyone military and their families. Media was only given limited access, but I got on and talked to as many folks as I could live on the air. I made sure that we would stay on top of this as much and as limited a staff as we were. I And then, after hours of searching out and investigating what I could, it happened.

I had just walked out of the emergency management office and had gotten off the phone with John that I was on my way to the next route when the rain began to fall hard. I quicky climbed into the station van and took a deep breath to relax while it came down in sheets and began to cry. The shock had worn off. The realization that our country was under terrorist attack had sunk. We were no more safe than Pearl Harbor was then. I sobbed uncontrolibly for a moment, but I knew I had to get back out there and keep digging. I dried my eyes as much as I could, cranked the van and headed off to the next story. Along the way, the rain stopped.

I took it upon myself to stay at the station overnight to keep watch in case the situation changed and to keep locals posted live. There wasn't much sleep for the next few days and I kept a promise to the listeners that as soon as we knew, so would they. They got and then some with only three people on watch at a little radio staion.

However, things changed again only a week and a day later as lack of sleep and stress lead me to drive myself in the station van to the local hospital while having a stroke. If 9/11 didn't change everything for me, then this would make sure that my world would never be the same ever again. It has.

Still, there are others out there who have their stories. You'll hear about them online or on televison. Maybe someone you know has their story of what they were feeling that day, whether it was shock or anger or sadness and loss or maybe all of the above. I know those were my emotions that day. But that's my side of it. And I'm still standing. A little sore from time to time, but I'm still up. Kind of like America right now. We're still here and we're still proud. That's what matters now. That we're still proud no matter what.


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