Saturday, September 06, 2003

It is 12:53, Saturday morning as I am writing this. Pumpkin girl is having a hard time sleeping with her nasty cough and that is why I am staying up late writing.

Some thing weird or odd happened today at work. I am going to be busy next week, traveling to contractors in Manchester, Birkenhead and Swadlincote. While typing on the team master calendar to let my boss know where I will be with contact details, I was filling out the details for my trip to Swadlincote this upcoming Thursday. I realized that Thursday will be the September the 11th.

The first thing that popped in to my head was: where I was when the first plane crashed in to the World Trade Center? I was starting to audit a facility that was making a part of a jet engine that I was making. They had a few problems and we were going to look at their manufacturing quality system, the configuration of the part to the drawing and specifications and to see how they were progressing on fixing the problem.

When we showed up, the Quality Manager, handed me a print out from the CNN web site showing the first plane crashing into the WTC. Don, who was a helicopter crew chief in Vietnam, said something is fishy and Bob, a Production Engineer and former Naval Engineer, said no pilot would have flow into a building, if they had a malfunction, they would try to ditch the airliner into the Hudson River or Atlantic Ocean. It came to my mind and I blurted out, how some Arab radicals, bombed it a few years ago, trying to destroy it. Then Don said “Oh shit, they are going for it again.”

A few years earlier, I was visiting a friend of mine who was still active duty in Special Forces, at Fort Bragg, N.C., and we ended up having a dinner and a few beers with some other friends, who worked for three lettered organizations. The subject floated on to some past bombings that were witnessed. The conclusion was amateurs used single bombs to kill and maim, but professionals use two. The first was use to produce bait, the dead and wounded. The second one is the real punch or as is briefed in the Army, the main effort. It is delivered to produce the main effect: kill the emergency medical personnel, police, firemen, community leadership and to damage or destroy their equipment. Do that a few times and the morale of the populace will sink and the terrorist will achieve their goal.

All of that night at Fayetteville came back to me on the morning of the 11th of September 2001 as we gather around a conference table discuss how we were going to conduct the audit. Right then, I asked the Quality Manager, to check CNN web site. We came back a few minutes later and said it was down, but some of the workers were gathered around portable radios on the plant floor and it was reported another plane hit the other tower of the World Trade Center. Right then I told every body what was said back in Fayetteville a few years back, and a some people looked at me like I was a mad man. The former military people, Don, Bob and a couple of others said I was right, and were wondering what other place would be hit next.

I got on phone to call my wife, who was literally a thousand miles away, and told her I was all right. Then I called my boss told him I was ok, and then called my Army Reserve unit. The Supply Sergeant answered the phone and I asked him was going on. He said to stay by a phone, because emails, faxes were flying and the secure STU phone in the commander’s office was being set up. I told him that I was on the road for work and he said I should head home ASAP.

After that, we started the audit, but nobody had their heart into it. We were all more concerned for our families, friends and country. Word got around that all the skies were cleared of airplanes. Nothing was flying. Somebody brought a TV into the conference room; I saw that the country was being locked down. I figured that was the safest thing to do. So, Bob and I called the Hertz rental car company and I asked if I could keep my rental car for a few extra days. They were great and said I SHOULD keep it as long as I would need it. No penalties for extra days or miles. Then I said I was going to drive back home to Boston from Madisonville, Kentucky. The lady said no problem. I was greatly relieved. Later that day we wrapped up the audit that would normally take three days to do and the next morning Bob, Don and I started to drive 1300 miles home.

It is 1:58 am and it is time to try to sleep.

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