AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing held a 9/11 Patriot Day memorial ceremony September 11, 2022, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. As the events of that day slip deeper into history, the focus of the memorial was to ensure those who saw that day continue to remember it, and those too young to remember know and feel what occurred.
The event began at 8:30 a.m., with a joint colors presentation and a video chronicling the events of September 11, 2001. After the documentary video, Senior Airman Jason T. Helgeson, a firefighter assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, signaled 5-5-5-5, when he rang a bell at 8:46 a.m., the time of the first attack, and again at 9:03 a.m., to signify the second attack.
Historically, the sound of a bell holds significance with fire fighters and “striking the four fives” would indicate the loss of one of their own. Between the bell strikes, several U.S. Army and Air Force members recounted their 9/11 stories; where they were, what they experienced that day and how these events affected their military careers.
In a ceremony unique to ADAB, fire, medical and police crosses were “built” with personal protective equipment, to honor the first responders who lost their lives trying to save those caught in the chaos at ground zero. First, members of the security forces squadron built the fire cross, which is set with a firefighter’s helmet, pants, coat, long axe and pry bar. Then, members of the civil engineer squadron’s fire department built the medical cross, which holds a stethoscope, utility vest, defibrillator and folded stretcher. Finally, members of the medical squadron completed the unified effort by building the police cross, which bears a Kevlar helmet, flak vest, combat boots and an M4 rifle.
Next, the 380th AEW Honor Guard performed a colors detail, a live rendition of TAPS and a flag folding ceremony, to provide military honors in memory of the service members who lost their lives during the attack on the Pentagon, and those who died in the Global War on Terrorism.
“The events of 9/11 changed the modern world,” said Maj. Scott Allen, the Public Affairs Chief of the 380th AEW and narrator for the ceremony. “It’s difficult to relive the shock of our homeland being attacked, feelings of grief, helplessness and anger, and daily reminders on TV of the loss of thousands of lives, and injuries to tens of thousands more. As difficult as it was to deal with back then, and to relive today, the horrific events and tragedy of 9/11 must be remembered. We must never forget. ”