FLEET ACTIVITIES YOKOSUKA, Japan —
Dozens of chief petty officers and chief petty officer selectees from Yokosuka-area commands commemorated the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack with morning colors at the Commander, Naval Forces Japan flagpole and a memorial ceremony in front the Chief Petty Officers Club.
Participating commands included USS Blue Ridge; U.S. 7th Fleet; Commander, Submarine Group 7; Commander, Naval Surface Warfare Group Pacific; Commander, Naval Forces Japan and Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
The selectees, many of whom shared their personal experiences, hosted the event to honor the nearly 3,000 civilians who died when terrorists crashed two jet airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon in Virginia, and another in a field in Pennsylvania.
“I was there on that fateful day when terror struck a blow to freedom and democracy,” said Chief (Select) Information System Technician Jimmy Omolade, assigned to Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “We were inside the building, and all of a sudden it started to shake. We were wondering, because there are no earthquakes in the city of New York. Eventually we were told to step out of the building. There was debris all over the place, as if it was snowing in downtown Manhattan. We were told by first responders to go across the Brooklyn Bridge for our safety.”
“I was in high school when it happened and all we did was sit there and watch the news,” recounted Chief (Select) Fire Controlman Gina Champion, assigned to Commander, Submarine Group 7. “It felt like the whole earth stopped that day.”
Capt. Rich Dromerhauser, Commander, Naval Surface Group Western Pacific, told the assembled audience that events like the tragic 9/11 attacks emphasize the importance of training and readiness. Events like this, he said, motivate us as a Navy to fight, compete and win in all areas of global threats.
“Most of you came in after the date we are talking about,” said Dromerhauser. “I ask you now as the young chief selects, as you start taking on greater leadership responsibilities, you have the opportunity to serve in the cloth of our nation. Take time to teach others.”
Dromerhauser and Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Fire Chief Richard Henderson, then a led approximately 100 Yokosuka-area chief petty officers and selects on a half-mile march to the Chief Petty Officer Club, where they laid a wreath at the 9/11 memorial.
“When we do colors think about why we do it. Think about what that stands for. I just ask that you think about it and reflect upon why – why you wear the uniform, why you do what you do and what you stand for,” said Dromerhauser. “This is the kind of thing that impacts us all.”