Veterans hold roses

Veterans hold roses to place on a memorial in honor of veterans of Western Massachusetts who have given their lives in military service since 9/11, during a ceremony at the Dalton American Legion before a Remembrance Ride from Dalton to Lenox on Saturday, May 27, 2017.

My Army National Guard tank unit from Bennington, Vt., was on a late-summer camp tour of duty at Fort Drum, N.Y. It was a warm and sunny morning, a beautiful day, and we were getting our tanks ready for gunnery on the range.

I recall one of our medics coming over and telling my crew that a plane had just hit one of the twin towers in NYC. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it and thought maybe it was an accident, and we went back to work. Then, a few minutes later, our commander came over and told us that a second plane had hit and that it was possible that we were under attack.

We turned our radios on and listened to the chaos from NYC, then the Pentagon and later, Pennsylvania.

Everything stopped. The post was shut down and we were told to start patrolling our perimeter, just in case. This was in the days before smartphones, and we had no way of contacting our families. It was days before I could reach my family and find out if they were safe. They were, but shaken.

After that day, everything changed. Two deployments and five years total spent on active duty on the global war on terrorism.

— Mark E. Pompi, Pittsfield - U.S. Army SFC (retired)

Photo credit: Veterans hold roses to place on a memorial in honor of veterans of Western Massachusetts who have given their lives in military service since 9/11, during a ceremony at the Dalton American Legion before a Remembrance Ride from Dalton to Lenox on Saturday, May 27, 2017. Eagle File Photo.