9/11 influences New York Soldiers' lives
September 12, 2011
CONTNIGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq -- A decade ago, the world witnessed an act of terrorism when two planes hit the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York, killing thousands of people and causing destruction unlike any previously witnessed in the United States.
About two miles away, on the Staten Island Ferry, heading to school at Staten Island University, 1st Lt. Holjer Correa, then a civilian, said he witnessed the destruction first hand.
"At first I thought it was an office fire or something that had broken out," said the maneuver platoon leader, Fire Support Company G, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division. "It wasn't until I got to school that I realized that a plane crashed into the building."
Correa, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., said he was initially angry at the events occurring near him as he realized his state had suffered such an attack, however, he also said the events made him more aware.
"After 9/11, I had the impulse to drop out of college and enlist, but my family advised me to wait and then join," said Correa. "What happened made me more awake and vigilant, and I definitely wanted to be in the fight."
Now, after three years of service, Correa is a part of the fight, supporting Operation New Dawn and the 1st AATF's mission of advising and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in and around Kirkuk, Iraq.
Correa's platoon is involved with the force protection of Contingency Operating Site Warrior by manning guard towers, providing perimeter security.
While Correa's platoon is responsible for the security of the Soldiers within the perimeters of COS Warrior, Spc. Jordan Mann, a combat engineer, Company C, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st AATF, 1st Inf. Div., supports OND by helping ensure the various routes Soldiers take outside the wire are safe to travel.
A native of Middletown, N.Y., Mann, also a three-year veteran, said he was also inspired to join the Army because of the events of 9/11.
"I was in the ninth grade when I heard about what happened during lunch," said Mann. "My school was about two hours away from the city and I knew something happened because the adults were frantic, but I didn't know the severity of it until I got home."
In 2003, U.S. forces deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, to end the regime of Saddam Hussein and help Iraq to build a self-sustaining democratic government.
Now in Operation New Dawn, Soldiers are closing out operations in Iraq, leaving their imprint during the period known as the "Final Chapter."
Mann feels he has left his mark on Operation New Dawn by helping train the 12th Iraqi Army Division during his time at Contingency Operating Location K1.
"By training the IA, we helped them do something they couldn't do before in gaining the knowledge and experience they needed to be able to support their country," he said.
Seeing what has been accomplished in this tour in Iraq, he feels servicemembers who were willing to give their all for their country, for their families, and for their freedoms have made a difference.
Correa concluded, "I'm honored and privileged to be a part of something great, and to see all of the changes myself."
A decade after the attacks, the country's sons and daughters are continuing to make sacrifices every day in order to protect New York, the United States and the world.