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20th 9/11 Remembrance: Airmen of three eras reflect

Master Sgt. James McKibben, 132d Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Group, joined the 132d Wing in response to witnessing the 9/11 attacks. McKibben deployed three times as an F-16 Fighting Falcon weapons loader. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael J. Kelly)

Master Sgt. James McKibben, 132d Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Group, joined the 132d Wing in response to witnessing the 9/11 attacks. McKibben deployed three times as an F-16 Fighting Falcon weapons loader. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael J. Kelly)

Col. Travis Crawmer, 132d Wing commander, was off duty during the 9/11 attacks and called back to base to await orders to scramble their F-16 Fighters for alert patrol. The order never came but Crawmer went on to deploy four times and fly 400 combat hours in the Global War on Terror. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael J. Kelly)

Col. Travis Crawmer, 132d Wing commander, was off duty during the 9/11 attacks and called back to base to await orders to scramble their F-16 Fighters for alert patrol. The order never came but Crawmer went on to deploy four times and fly 400 combat hours in the Global War on Terror. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael J. Kelly)

Airman First Class Alexis Cooper, 132d Security Forces Squadron, was born after 9/11 and was taught about the event in school. Cooper’s father served in the 132d Wing overseas and was instrumental in inspiring Cooper serve in the military. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael J. Kelly)

Airman First Class Alexis Cooper, 132d Security Forces Squadron, was born after 9/11 and was taught about the event in school. Cooper’s father served in the 132d Wing overseas and was instrumental in inspiring Cooper serve in the military. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael J. Kelly)

Des Moines, Iowa --

As the 20th Remembrance of the 9/11 attacks draw near, it is a reminder of how time marches on but the memories and lessons are forever. In the last 20 years, there are Airmen at the 132d Wing who were on call the day of the attacks, who joined because of what they saw and who were born after that fateful day. These are their unique perspectives on those events.

 

Col. Travis “Lloyd” Crawmer, 132d Wing commander.

-4 Deployments flying combat patrol

-Flew 400 combat hours in F-16 and MQ-9

 

“I was at home the morning of the September 11 attacks and watched it unfold on TV.  It seemed surreal as I watched the airplanes hit the Twin Towers.  As for emotions at that time we did not know what or who was responsible.  As the day continued and more attacks took place, it became apparent that we were under attack as the Pentagon was struck.  Shortly after, I was recalled to the base that evening as we were getting jets put on alert just in case we were asked to scramble.  That evening we were never launched, however it did start the mission of supporting Operation Noble Eagle as we continued to have F-16’s sitting alert for the foreseeable future.

The 20th Remembrance of 9/11 to means to never forget the lives that were lost that day and also what many Americans did by signing up to serve their country and be a part of something bigger then themselves.  We’ve lost some outstanding American’s since 9/11, but I am most proud of serving with and for the American people.”

 

Master Sgt. James McKibben, 132d Intelligence Targeting Group. 

-Enlisted at 132d Fighter Wing in wake of 9/11 attacks

-Deployed three times as an F-16 weapons loader.

 

“I was at my current place of employment.  We have a TV in our office and I got to work right after the second plane hit the Towers. I’ve always wanted to join but kept putting it off.  My motive was September 11th itself. I knew that I wasn’t going to my grave having done nothing about that! The 132nd Fighter Wing had an F-16 mission and considering that the Gulf War started out as an air campaign, I figured they would most definitely contribute as soon as possible. So, joining at the ripe old age of 30 as a weapons loader seemed like the perfect fit. It was an easy decision for me.   

In general, I am very proud of my three overseas deployments to Qatar, Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the War on Terror.  I joined in February of 2002, ironically, it wasn’t till February of 2012 in Afghanistan that I loaded some munitions that the bad guys got the working end of.  I don’t necessarily consider myself so much a vengeful person as I do a successful instrument of a necessary evil…I definitely felt that I achieved what I had set out to do.  

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since then.  What strikes me the most is not just the lives lost, but the manner in which they were taken which makes 9/11 so very unique.  Consequently, I think that the best way we can honor the victims is through continued vigilance in so many ways and on so many fronts.  To me, future vigilance is the true test to honor that day and those affected by it.”

 

Airman First Class Alexis Cooper, 132d Security Forces Squadron.

-Born after 9/11

-Father served 132d Wing

 

“The earliest I can remember knowing about 9/11 was in about fifth or sixth grade and they taught us about it. They brought in the old TVs and showed us the clips of the attacks. Then I went home and talked to my parents about it and was able to connect the dots as to why my dad was overseas so much when I was younger.

Growing up its all I’ve known, going through lots of airport screening and just seeing news of conflicts overseas. My dad was a part of that and big reason why I joined the 132d Wing. I always heard stories of him and his friends here and how the unit was like a family.  That and the other opportunities the military provides are why I joined. I feel I’m doing my part to continue our nation’s valiance for current and future threats.

9/11 to me as a person who never experienced it was definitely a traumatic event that shaped our nation and our military focuses. I think of it as the United States coming together and rallying behind a common cause. It showed our strength as a nation and that we can come back from major traumatic events.”