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News | Sept. 7, 2021

DLA Aviation employees remember 9/11: Navy Cmdr. Curtis Ceaser

Organization:  DLA Aviation at Jacksonville, Florida

What is your job title, and what do you do, specifically? I am the commander of DLA Aviation at Jacksonville, Florida. In this capacity, I lead a workforce of 150 military, civilian, and contract professionals responsible for providing material and logistics functions. These functions include supply/demand planning, order fulfillment, procurement, technical/quality, data analytics and distribution in support of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast’s overhaul, maintenance, and repair of aircraft, components and engines.

Please tell where you were and what you were doing on Sept. 11, 2001. The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, is a day I will never forget. It was a day that started with an event I thought to be significant but turned out to be inconsequential in light of what transpired. I was a petty officer 2nd class stationed at Naval Station San Diego, California, attending specialty training, known as “C” School, for dental equipment repair.

That morning started like most with an early morning trek to the base gym before the start of class. My normal jovial mood quickly changed to anger when a rock chipped the windshield of my new car, a 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara. This especially fueled that day’s work out! I typically used my gym time as a way to catch up on sports and news broadcasts on the many televisions throughout the gym. This particular morning, while resting between sets, I noticed reports of a fire at the World Trade Center due to a plane crashing into it. My initial thought was the sheer incompetence of a small plane pilot to hit such a large structure. As I continued to watch the coverage, I witnessed the passing of a second plane, which was easily recognized as a commercial airliner. This was hard to initially comprehend. At first, I thought it was a replay of the video of the first plane crashing into the tower, but I quickly realized I was watching live coverage. After taking stock of what I saw, it dawned on me that it was indeed a second plane and an intentional attack! 

I was flooded with a host of emotions; shock, fear and disbelief, to mention a few. The remainder of that day was dominated with continuous news coverage, including the grounding of all flights, the ensuing rescue efforts by first responders, both towers crumbling to the ground and the unimaginable celebrations in some parts of the world and theories of who was to blame. The coordinators of that day’s attacks could not foresee the sleeping giant they had awakened American national patriotism, arguably not seen since the attacks on Pearl Harbor some 60 years earlier. That day also heightened my desire to serve my country at a higher capacity, serving as a commissioned naval officer.

What can we do to ensure future generations never forget that fateful day? Like Pearl Harbor, the moon landing and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we need to educate future generations of the events leading up to and following that tragic day. Yearly observances of 9/11 also help to ensure we “Never Forget” the ongoing threat to our democracy and our way of life.