LANDSTUHL, Germany – Service Members and staff attended a 9/11 Remembrance ceremony at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on the 19th anniversary of the attack, Sept. 11.
The ceremony featured a first-hand account of the response efforts to the attacks by retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Carentz who was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base during the attacks.
“My first experience with war was on September 11, 2001,” opened Carentz, who served 23 years in the Air Force. “(On television) we witnessed a plane hitting the first tower, all of us thinking it was a mistake. Then the second one hit.”
As part of the Critical Care Air Transport Team, Carentz and his team were tasked with initiating patient treatment facilities in New York and New Jersey in response to the attacks. Unbeknown to them, the team was redirected to respond to an attack at the Pentagon instead.
“I remember while we were showing up, we saw smoke coming up from the Pentagon and there were helicopters circling above. As we got closer, we saw a range of emotions. We saw some individuals that were off in a distance cheering (the arrival of the CCATT team). Then we got closer and saw people in shock walking around, like zombies covered in dust and blood.”
Carentz, along with other first responders, spent the following hours and days sifting through the rubble searching for survivors. It was during those following days and hours that Carentz witnessed a country unified.
“Our flag, our colors were posted over the Pentagon early in the morning. We saw the community pull together as trucks from (home improvement stores) came in to set up wood barriers to hold the building. We also saw trucks showing up with (food) to feed the first responders,” said Carentz. “It was a mix of emotions from a day that we'll never forget.”
During his 23 years of service, Carentz went on to care for approximately 25,000 service members as part of the CCATT, including a decade of service at LRMC.
“I'm reminded of (the 9/11 attacks) every day, every day,” said Carentz, now the patient safety program manager at LRMC.
Carentz’ story was shared with audiences across social media and at the observance. During the prerecorded testimony, names of the nearly 3,000 victims from the attacks scrolled across the auditorium screens, an exhibition lasting nearly 11 minutes.
Following Carentz’ testimony, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Carentz himself helped light candles in remembrance of the events which unfolded on 9/11 and ever since.
“As I reflect back on that day, 19 years ago, I can't think of many events which are so consequential and of such magnitude that they have changed our lives the way we live,” said U.S. Army Col. Claude Burnett, deputy commanding officer of LRMC. “For most of us in this room, there's not a lot of events that we can think of, of that magnitude.”
Burnett shared his experience as he found out about the attacks, and challenged audiences to unite as we did following the attacks.
“I would ask that we consider summoning some of that unity in today's crisis, as we face a pandemic in several other areas and threats. Can we summon some of that unity in our efforts to pay homage to all the names and all the lives that were lost on that day?” asked Burnett.