Battle Creek, Michigan, Sept. 12, 2016 —
Defense Logistics Agency employees and other members of the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center workforce started their day today remembering the fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, 2001.
“Fifteen years and one day later, we pay tribute to the loss of nearly 3,000 lives, reflect on treasured memories of those we lost, and resolve to never forget that day,” said Don Phillips, the DLA Installation Support site director for Battle Creek, as he read from President Obama’s proclamation honoring Patriot Day. Phillips went on to share Obama’s comments on how “a group of small and hateful minds conspired to threaten the very fiber of our country, seeking to break the American spirit and destroy our way of life.” He went on to say how the event would allow those at the Federal Center to join with the president and the nation in remembering Sept. 11 as a sacred day.
Ray Zingaretti, Logistic Information Services director for DLA, spoke next as he compared how the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the terrorist attacks of 2001 were both meant to frighten and scare Americans from resisting the future goals of the attackers, but both failed to accomplish their goals. Zingaretti quoted President George W. Bush’s address in 2001, on how terrorist attacks “… shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” In the days since the attacks Zingaretti said he was proud to witness just how right Bush was in his remarks.
“Over the last fifteen years I have watched with pride as our personnel supported our warfighters in the ongoing fight against terror,” Zingaretti said. “The resiliency of the American people, especially those serving here, will allow us to face …threats with courage and commitment.”
Michael Cannon, DLA Disposition Services director, reflected on how two of the many Americans lost to the global fight against terror were DLA employees. Both had served at DLA Disposition Services sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. Former Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Byus had served in Iraq in 2004 and 2010 in support of DLA Disposition Services before deploying to Afghanistan in 2014 as a DLA civilian employee. During that deployment, the two-vehicle convoy carrying Byus and other personnel to downtown Kabul was attacked, making him the first DLA employee killed in the war on terror.
“While he was not on duty with us DLA Disposition Services at the time, we remember the sacrifices he made in supporting our mission and deeply feel his loss,” Cannon said.
Colleagues Krissie Davis and Rob Delong were also serving in Afghanistan when their convoy took indirect fire. Cannon reflected on the ceremony last June remembering the anniversary of Davis’ death in that attack and how her loss is still felt by her coworkers at the Anniston, Alabama, site she left for her deployment. He also noted how Delong was wounded in the attack and shares a place on DLA Disposition Services’ Wall of Honor along with Davis.
Looking ahead, Cannon encouraged everyone to remember the words of DLA Director Air Force Lt. Gen Andy Busch on how, “Patriot Day is the ultimate expression of our ability to work through tragedy, recover and come back stronger.” He went to say he was confident that “15 years from now, the people here then will be remembering the patriotism and hard work you expended.”
Members of the Cereal City Brass Company played patriotic music for the event. The Michigan Air National Guard’s 110th Air Wing Honor Guard also participated to present the colors and the Battle Creek Fire Department exhibited a piece of the steel beams salvaged from the debris of the World Trade Center. Other exhibits at the event included the names of victims from the attacks of 2001, copies of newspaper headlines from the day and pictures DLA employees provided of their travels to New York City before and after the attacks.