By Sgt. Kyle Fisch, USASOC Public AffairsSeptember 9, 2016
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- It's been 15 years since people witnessed the billowing plumes of smoke escaping the gaping holes left in the burning sides of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York. An image that burned into the retinas of many and made headlines all over the world.
Many Soldiers, service members, and Department of Defense civilians remember Sept. 11, 2001 vividly, while some only know what they have read in news reports and textbooks.
Some remember what they were doing, where they were, who they were with, it was an infamous day that triggered many to remember otherwise unimportant details of that day due to the catastrophic events that took place in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.
"It's a day I will never forget. I had a little 13" TV at my desk, and a couple of our rangers and I were watching the news report about a plane hitting the first tower," said Linda Davis, 75th Ranger Regiment regimental secretary. "We were all guessing as to what might have happened -- maybe the pilot fell asleep or had a heart attack while flying, maybe there was a gas leak on the plane that made him and the co-pilot pass out? We had no idea, then the second one hit, and you could have heard a pin drop in my office. We all sat there, absolutely stunned, we just couldn't move."
It was a day that impacted the lives of many Americans across the country. For some, it altered the events that would take place in their immediate future and for others it solidified life decisions they had contemplated.
For Chief Warrant Officer 5 Douglass Englen, Command Chief Warrant Officer for U.S. Special Operations Aviation Command, it was the former.
"I was on the fast-track to becoming a flight lead in the 160th, flying MH-47E's," Englen said. "My family was much younger, with only three young children (we currently have four). I was content with our training for war and was always curious about when the next conflict would be. When I realized what was happening, I knew that time with my family was going to be sacrificed and the possibility of being in harm's way, was rapidly becoming a reality."
Younger generations like Sgt. Alexandria Hollabaugh, a human resources noncommissioned officer with U.S. Army Special Operations Command Headquarters, may have been too young at the time to fully grasp the significance of what transpired that day.
"In 2001 I was seven years old, and we were living in Kentucky (at the time)," Hollabaugh said.
"I remember all the schools on-post sent all the kids home, but we really didn't know what was going on. I remember there was a big panic throughout the school, teachers were moving around a lot, making phone calls, and everybody got really quiet."
"I was really young, so I wasn't really sure how I was supposed to feel," she said. "I don't think that I was angry but I remember my sister was very upset. I think mainly I was just sad that something so tragic had happened to the country where I was born and that I love."
The tragic events of that infamous day changed many people. The way they think, the way they act, even (in some cases) the way they view life.
"It changed my perspective on just how fragile life is, and how in the blink of an eye someone can take it away," Davis explained. "How some, who fortunately had the hand of God on them, were saved from not being at work at their given time and having their lives saved, because of it. Those instances were truly miracles, there is no other explanation. Just simply amazing."
Englen having already been in the military for 15 years prior, explained that for himself and his family, it was a day that despite the horrific acts of terrorism, reinforced their belief in this country's strength, resolve and leadership.
"My family and I became much more patriotic and supportive, my son now currently serves as well. We had trust in our president and leadership to take care of us," he said.
Patriotism, however, was not the only thing that changed Englen's life post 9/11. With him being active-duty military at the time, he knew there would be sacrifices he would have to make.
"I have deployed 34 times accumulating over 1,800 days deployed," he said. "Executed over 2,500 combat missions since 9/11. My life has been forever changed."