Thursday, September 8, 2011

REMEMBERING 9/11: Your Story, #4 | National Infantry Museum, Fort Benning/Columbus, Georgia

Today we continue our series of 9/11 recollections, submitted by readers and published in their own words. 
Today's entry is written by Ryan Vallery, whose story speaks to the strength and resolve of the American Soldier. Thank you for your story and your service, Mr. Vallery:

September 11th, 2001 will always remain a day vivid in my memories. Most people recall hearing about it on the radio, or a friend rushing them to the TV. I found out about it as I stepped into my OSUT Battalion as I noticed a Drill Sergeant wheeling out the Day Room television in tears.
I enlisted 11X in March of 2001 as a DEP-enlistee. I was your typical, run-of-the-mill soon-to-be-Infantryman: young, troubled, going nowhere fast. I needed an escape and the Army provided me one. I graduated summer school 20 AUG 01 and left for Fort Benning 21 AUG 01.  After the usual hell week at 30th Adjutant General Battalion (in-processing, hair cut, introduction to smoke sessions), I impatiently awaited my arrival to my Basic Training unit.
Finally, after three weeks of waiting out the Summer Surge, I received my orders. Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment – CHARLIE ROCK! At about 0835 we left 30th AG and marched the usual route up 2nd Infantry Division Road, down 41st Infantry Regiment Street, up 2nd Armor Division Road and into the Charlie Rock formation area, oblivious to the situation now in full development across our country. To our surprise, we walked into a huddled mass of Drill Sergeants, some with tears in their eyes. Was this a game? A scare tactic? Our Senior Drill wheeled the TV out so we could all watch what monumental event was so horrible so as to cause the indomitable Drill Sergeant to shed a tear. 
A passenger jet had hit the World Trade Center. It was 0900hrs when we arrived. As we watched, a jet collided with one of the massive towers, and it took a few moments to realize that this was actually a second jet. We all thought we were watching a replay of Flight 11. In actuality, we witnessed the televised attack by Flight 175.
We were dumbstruck. One Soldier collapsed as he cried that his father works in Tower 2 (he made it out). The TV is turned off and our Senior Drill addressed us: "Men, whether they've come out and said it or not, we are now a nation at war. Someone is going to pay for this, and you will be our instruments of destruction. All I ask is that you give 200% over the next weeks and kill the SOBs who done this. We serve in a volunteer Army, if this is too much to ask, raise your hand now and leave, or forever hold your peace."
I will forever be thankful to that one man who raised his hand and who subsequently, however unwillingly, served 15 weeks of KP, Fire Guard and CQ so that one less Soldier had to miss out on sleep and training. The next 15 weeks flew by with vengeance on my mind. We followed what news we could of Operation Enduring Freedom and looked forward to playing our part.
"3rd Herd" photo provided by Ryan Vallery
Long story short, a disabled veteran of three tours, I sit back now and remember, both fondly and without regret, my experiences throughout the 4 years and 8 stop-lossed months of my service. I will forever remember that day, its impact on my life, and what it means as a part of my American identity. I will never forget the sacrifices made by so many – both directly and indirectly – so that such terror will hopefully never be experienced on our end again. And should such events transpire once more, forever I am thankful that, "rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm" (Winston Churchill).
Ryan Vallery
"Blue 4G"
Able 2-69 AR

If you have a story to share, email jbeck@nationalinfantryfoundation.org. Over the coming weeks, stories will be posted every 1-2 days. If your submission is selected for publication, you will be notified immediately. The National Infantry Foundation retains the right to edit for clarity and content (grammar errors, offensive language, etc.), but will not alter the intent of the writer. These are your stories in your words.

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