FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Sgt. Zachary Patt was an 18-year-old store manager at a shoe store in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on September 11, 2001.
"I had fallen asleep [at home] with the television on, so when I woke up, I watched the whole thing unfold," explained Patt, now a food service noncommissioned officer with 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade "Lifeliners," 101st Airborne Division.
Patt said he thought the footage of American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashing into the World Trade Center was a movie.
"But it wasn't," he said. "It was really happening."
Fifteen years later he helped create the food that was served at the 101st Abn. Div. Sust.. Bde., 101st Abn. Div., dining facility 9/11 memorial luncheon, Sept. 9, here.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael James, senior food service noncommissioned officer for the 101st Abn. Div. Sust. Bde., said that like Patt, he clearly remembers the events that occurred that day and the aftermath.
"This day turned a page in history for a lot of people," said James. "It was important for me and my Soldiers to put this [memorial luncheon meal] together to remember those who sacrificed everything on that day."
Representatives from the police and fire departments of Oak Grove, Hopkinsville, and Fort Campbell, as well as Carter Hendricks, mayor of Hopkinsville, Bea Burt, mayor of Oak Grove, and Bob Freeman, champion of Fort Campbell, attended the memorial luncheon as special guests.
Dennis Cunningham, police chief for Oak Grove, Kentucky, attended the luncheon on behalf of his police department.
"I wouldn't have missed it for the world," he said. "I was honored to have been invited and for them [the brigade] to take the time and say such good things about what we do felt great."
Cunningham, who served in the military for 23 years, said it's important for the younger generation to understand what occurred that day because they are now engaged in the outcome of what happened 15 years ago.
Patt said that some Soldiers were too young to remember the attacks on September 11, 2001, and he hoped putting together the luncheon would drive the importance of that day.
"The younger generation of Soldiers haven't had to experience anything like this," added Patt. "It's important that they understand the sacrifices that were made that day, both by responders and families."
After guests and Soldiers finished their meals, a representative from each department assisted the "Lifeliner" command team, Col. Stanley Sliwinski and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Perry, along with Brig. Gen. Scott Brower, acting senior commander for the 101st Abn. Div., in cutting the memorial cake.
Patt, who was part of the team that made the memorial cake, said it was important to him and his team to make this cake more personal to the fire and police departments.
"Each police car has the number 23 because of the number of police officers who lost their lives," he explained. "The fire trucks have ladder 10 on them to honor the firehouse that lost the most firefighters during that day."
Cunningham said he quickly noticed the details on the cake.
"The way everything was set up was great," he said. "It took a lot of thought, care, and pride to include those small details and I respect all three of those qualities."
The memorial meal ended with an awards presentation where the "Lifeliner" command team presented a certificate of appreciation to each of the departments that attended the luncheon.
"It really shows [the brigade's] compassion in humanity and that they truly care about the departments by putting this event together," said Cunningham. "No one can put a price tag on that."