WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- For half a decade, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Sensors Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has held a ceremony of remembrance to honor those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks and in the War on Terror since that day.
It did so once again Sept. 11 in the circle in front of the building, during a personal ceremony that involved military members conducting a roll call of the names of people lost and known by Sensors Directorate personnel. The ceremony was devised and led by Col. Eugene Wall, deputy director, with several dozen military members and hundreds of Sensors Directorate personnel in attendance.
“We’re all Americans, and we’re tied by a common thread,” Wall said. “To all the folks here who have submitted these names, to recognize them as part of the RY family because we were all impacted that day here. Today is about RY coming together.”
The names of those lost on 9/11 encompass many different kinds of relationships, he said, including nephews, cousins, college roommates and coworkers.
“Much of the research and technology Sensors Directorate personnel develop now is in response to 9/11 and to protect America from the next 9/11,” Wall said. “We focus a lot on homeland defense with technology capabilities.
“We’re here remembering how 9/11 started and the effect it has had on America and the directorate’s individuals here.”
After the roll call, the national anthem was sung by the Sensors Directorate Quartet. To set the tone for the event, Maj. Tyler Johnson, 788th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, and Chief Jacob King of the Wright-Patterson AFB Fire Emergency Services Department, climbed the 13 stories and 253 steps of the tower. At the top, the pair posted the flag.
“Sept. 11 was a significant event for Americans, so it is important for the fire department and the military to participate together,” Johnson said. “It changed the careers of a lot of people. Doing this together is meaningful.”
“Our firefighters stand ready every day, as they always have, to be at their best at what could be somebody’s worst day,” he continued. “Their dedication to the base populace is remarkable.”
King, clad in full gear for the climb, said the fire department was glad to participate. The department calls the facility where the stair climb was held the twin towers as it is one of the tallest buildings on base.
“Three hundred and 43 firefighters lost their lives that day. ... It’s the Pearl Harbor of our generation. This is our moment, as we are climbing, to remember how it felt for them and to pay tribute to them,” King said.
The Sensors Directorate will continue to honor those lost with its annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Challenge Sept. 20-21. The Tower Challenge will involve competitors climbing to the top of the 163-foot tower inside Bldg. 620, Area B, as many times as possible during three hours. The Speed Climb follows the next day, with some competitors achieving times of less than 50 seconds.