Aggies Reflect On 9/11 Attacks
“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”
The inscription, surrounded by shimmering blue tiles and carefully memorialized debris, hangs on a wall in the heart of the National September 11 Museum. This saying rings true for Americans around the globe; though 20 years have passed, that fateful day in mid-September 2001 left a mark that cannot be hidden.
When the commercial jets flew into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Aggieland lost three of its own: Jimmy Nevill Storey ’65, Lee Adler ’84 and Lt. Col. Jerry Don Dickerson Jr. ’92. In 2008, the Freedom From Terrorism Memorial was erected next to the Corps of Cadets Quad in remembrance of the three Aggies who never came home on 9/11 and all the soldiers who lost their lives defending the nation in the aftermath.
Today, eight Aggies recount how they did their part in a time of crisis, whether by rescuing another through fiery debris, scouting the skies or promoting togetherness in a frightening world.
Ret. Cdr. Brian “Lucky” Riley ’95
Fighter pilot at Virginia Beach Air Force Base
“My wife was nine months pregnant with our first child, who was due on Sept. 10, 2001. My squadron was in a standard aircraft carrier briefing at Virginia Beach on Sept. 11 when our duty officer announced that an airplane had just flown into the World Trade Center. We were all watching his TV screen as the second one hit.
We knew instantly that we were probably under attack. We look around, and I was the most experienced guy in the room. Even though our commanding officer tried to get on base, the entire complex was in lockdown. So, we made the decision. We told our maintenance guys to get the jets ready.
By the time I put on my flight suit and four planes were ready to go, my commanding officer was running up the stairs. As I descended, he said something that is burned in my brain forever: ‘Here are the rules of engagement for shooting down a civilian airliner.’
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