Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Vice President, DoD Leaders Honor Pentagon’s 9/11 Sacrifices

By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, sought not just to take the lives of U.S. citizens and crumble buildings; they hoped to break America’s spirit, Vice President Mike Pence said at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial observance here today. They failed, he said.

“The American people showed on that day and every day since, we will not be intimidated,” the vice president said. “Our spirit cannot be broken.”

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva hosted Pence for the annual remembrance for families and friends of those who fell at the Pentagon.

Seventeen years ago, terrorists flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. One hundred eighty-nine people perished -- 125 service members and civilians working in the building, and 59 men and women and children aboard the flight.

The losses at the Pentagon, combined with those at New York City’s World Trade Center and in a field crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, totaled 2,977 men, women and children.

A Special Burden

“To the families of the fallen gathered here and all those looking on, the cherished final moments you shared with your loved ones no doubt seem like just yesterday: a goodbye kiss, a tender embrace, or one last wave,” Pence said.

“Just know that your nation understands that, while we all suffered loss that day, we know you bear a special burden,” he added. “But we gather here in the shadow of the building where your loved ones departed this life to say that you do not bear that burden alone. The American people stand with you and we always will.”

The vice president said that even before the smoke cleared and the fires were put out, Americans began to answer the call and step forward to serve the nation.

“It's amazing to think in the 17 years since that day, nearly 5.5 million Americans volunteered to serve in the armed forces of the United States,” he added. “Those courageous men and women turned a day of tragedy into a triumph of freedom.”

Hatred Will Not Prevail

Mattis told the families and friends of victims that, “[In] the shadow of our rebuilt Pentagon, we are all part of your larger family. We stand with you every day in honored tribute of the fallen, of your loved ones.”

In that spirit, the secretary added, “this morning we commit ourselves to remembering and honoring the lives that might have been. We keep faith with the innocent who perished. We take solace in their deaths were not in vain, for in their passing they empowered us forever with our enduring sense of purpose. And we remember that hatred disguised in false religious garb to murder innocents will not prevail.”

We remember the bravery and sacrifice of those who fell here in America, and then on far-flung battlefields, he said.

“We salute the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines who nailed our colors to the mast, giving their last full measure of devotion, declaring proudly that Americans do not scare,” Mattis said.

Strength and Resilience

Together with the families of the fallen, we remember all that is good, true, and beautiful about those we have lost, “And if we remember them, if we honor them by living as they would have us live, if we in the Department of Defense do our best every day to protect America's promise to the world, then we keep our promise to them and to ourselves and to future generations,” the secretary said.

Selva told the audience today’s ceremonies across the country, “inspire us to reflect not only on the nation's strength and resolve after those brutal attacks, but also on the strength and resilience of individual people who continue to carry on, even to thrive, in spite of the pain of losing a loved one.”

The vice chairman said all should take comfort in knowing that those who died imparted a legacy of selfless service, courage and patriotism, and a belief in the high ideals, all of which continue to inspire a new generation of grateful Americans who have answered the call to serve.

“So today, let us reaffirm the commitment that as long as we have breath to breathe, our military members will defend this nation,” the vice chairman said. “We will ensure that future generations of America are able to enjoy the same freedoms and liberties that we inherited.”

National Guard Prepares for Hurricane Florence

By Marine Corps Sgt. David Staten, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland declared a state of emergency yesterday as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast. The storm is forecast to make landfall along the Atlantic coast Sept. 13 as a major hurricane.

North Carolina

North Carolina will place 320 National Guardsmen on state active duty to integrate into NC Emergency Management’s disaster response plan, National Guard Bureau officials said. There are 7,000 additional North Carolina guardsmen ready to mobilize when called to state active duty by the governor. The North Carolina National Guard’s first priority is safeguarding the lives and property of its state’s citizens, officials said.

National Guard capabilities to support North Carolina in the aftermath of a hurricane include stranded motorist and flood victim rescue using high-water clearance vehicles, warehouse and supply transport, shelter support, food and water distribution, communications support, road closure support and helicopter aquatic rescue teams, officials said.

South Carolina

As of this morning there were about 2,000 South Carolina Army National Guardsmen on state active duty, as well as about 50 airmen, and they will remain on duty as long as needed, according to Army Lt. Col. Cindi King, the director of public affairs for the South Carolina National Guard.

Immediate missions will include aerial and ground support for the South Carolina Highway Patrol if lane reversals are issued and security and assistance for law enforcement officials.


The Virginia National Guard is planning to initially bring up to 1,500 soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty for possible assistance with the state’s response operations for Hurricane Florence, according to National Guard Bureau officials. Gov. Ralph Northam has authorized up to 6,000 personnel for response operations and those individuals are alerted and on standby.

Potential missions for the Virginia National Guard include high-water transportation, debris reduction, commodity distribution, shelter management assistance and rotary-wing aviation search and rescue, the officials said.

The Virginia National Guard plans to stage personnel at readiness centers in key locations throughout the commonwealth in order to be ready to rapidly respond if needed, National Guard Bureau officials said. Additional soldiers, airmen and Virginia Defense Force members will be on duty in Richmond and at Fort Pickett to provide mission command, logistics, administrative and public information support.


The Maryland National Guard is ready to support the governor, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and other partner agencies as they prepare for, respond to and recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence, National Guard Bureau officials said. The Joint Operations Center is manned around the clock, and they are in constant contact with MEMA, ready to respond as needed.

"Military organization and training enables unsurpassed capabilities at home in times of large-scale emergency or disaster response,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Burkett, vice director of domestic operations and force development for the National Guard Bureau. “In other words, the experience and education acquired by National Guard personnel significantly benefits the sense of urgency for us to provide our unique capabilities in times of disaster.”