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[MUSIC - BEN MCPEAK, "HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN?"]
Thank you for joining us for USAA's Patriot Day Ceremony,
A Decade After 9/11."
Mary Jo "MJ" Sweeney was USAA's military affairs rep in
the USAA Financial Center in Annapolis.
She served in the United States Navy for 26 years in a
variety of posts, including command of the Navy's Atlantic
fleet logistics ships.
Her final chore as Deputy Director Office of the Chief
of Naval Operations was at the Pentagon.
Just 12 days into her new post, a jet hijacked by
terrorists crashed into the Pentagon in one of the worst
terrorist attacks ever on US soil.
The plane struck where MJ's new office was under
construction and unoccupied adjacent to
their temporary office.
Her focus, to get as many people out of the building as
possible, help the injured and others to safety while helping
regroup the chief of Naval Operations
staff to lead the navy.
Continuity of operations was key.
It would be hours before she could reach her husband to let
him know she survived.
Brett Galloway, vice president of corporate communications at
USAA, grew up in New York City.
Years later, while working for Morgan Stanley in media
relations, he found himself officing in the South Tower of
the World Trade Center.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Brett happened to be
attending a morning meeting in Midtown Manhattan, blocks from
the World Trade Center.
He and co-workers could only watch as the terror unfolded.
Two planes struck the Twin Towers.
First, the North Tower, then the South.
13 of Brett's co-workers were killed.
In all, nearly 3,000 died in the attacks that day, changing
the US and the world, and altering the
lives of every American.
Please welcome our hosts today, MJ
Sweeney and Brett Galloway.
Thank you and good morning.
MJ And I are honored to host this ceremony.
We welcome all those watching throughout the country and
those watching us around the world on the Pentagon Channel.
We want to thank Mr. Ben McPeak for starting us off
with that Darryl Worley song, "Have You Forgotten?" Let's
give him a round of applause.
It takes us back and asks a very appropriate question,
especially for today.
We are gathered to remember and acknowledge the passing of
10 years, 10 years in which our country has been
transformed to a country that is more aware and is
definitely more cautious.
We now think differently about threats and the ways they may
be carried out.
We are indeed watchful, but not afraid.
We still live in an open and free society, that is stronger
and more resolute than it has ever been.
It's a good day to be here.
And a good day to remember.
Our theme is "America's Resolve--
A Decade After 9/11."
To me, it doesn't seem like 10 years.
That day is still so clear and so close.
It was actually a beautiful morning in Manhattan on 9/11.
Blue skies, 60 degrees-- it was gorgeous.
I was at a meeting in Times Square, a short subway ride
from my office in the South Tower.
Then, terror struck.
And by the end of the day, 2,977 people--
2,977 victims were dead.
People I knew.
People lots of you knew.
212 of them USAA members.
Today we remember all the victims, and we reflect on our
resolve to never forget.
To honor them, and all of our fallen countrymen, we will
recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
And then, Ben will lead us in singing the National Anthem.
With legislation recently passed, all veterans are
permitted to salute the flag or place their hand over their
heart when we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing
the National Anthem.
Let us honor the flag.
Please rise as you are able.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the
United States of America.
And to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation under
God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
[MUSIC - BEN MCPEAK, "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER"]
Thank you, Ben.
Please be seated.
As Brett mentioned a moment ago, he was involved with the
tragedy that occurred in New York.
As the deputy director of the chief of naval operations
staff, I was in the Pentagon's outer ring, the E Ring.
My experiences on that day,
unfortunately were more direct.
I felt the concussion, heard the boom, and smelled the
burning, the burning fuel, as the smoke drove us
out onto the lawn.
Many people I know did not survive.
And for many months, I worked to restore the physical spaces
and reconstitute the navy operations staff lost in that
indelible flash of time.
Today is an important day to stop and remember.
We are pleased to have guests from the military community
with us to help remember.
They now command many men and women who join the military as
a result of wanting to defend their country after 9/11.
Let me introduce them to you now.
Please stand and face the audience as
your names are read.
And audience, please hold your applause until all are
Representing the United States Army, Major General Ted Long,
Commanding General, Brooke Army Medical Center; Colonel
Richard Francey, Chief of Staff, Fifth Army.
Representing the United States Marine Corps, Sergeant Major
Gary Tolar, Fourth Recon Battalion.
Representing the United States Navy, Captain James Hunter,
Senior Officer Present Ashore, Air Education and Training
Command; Captain Dave Bondura, Commanding Officer, Navy
Information Operations Command, Texas; Lieutenant
Commander Cliff Johnson, Executive Officer Naval
Operational Support Center; Command Master Chief Thomas
Ayers, Navy Information Operations Command, Texas.
Representing the United States Air Force, Major General
Stephen Sargeant, Special Assistant to the Commander,
Air Education and Training Command, and his wife,
[? Vivi; ?]
the Commander 59th Medical Wing, Major General and Doctor
Byron Hepburn; Colonel Brett Scott, Medical Education
Also from the 59th Medical Wing, Executive Officer Major
[? Dean Ferry. ?]
Command Chief, Chief Master Sergeant Richard Robinson, and
Executive Assistant Technical Sergeant Chris
[? Hemmisberg. ?]
Representing the United States Coast Guard, Captain Brendan
Frost, Liaison Office, HACU National Headquarters;
Lieutenant Commander Gene Anzano, Commanding Officer,
Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit, Texas.
Representing our local veteran service organizations--
from the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mr. Bruce
Alfred, Ms. Sylvia Sanchez, and Mr. Henry Gonzales.
From the Texas EGSR Employer Outreach, Ms. Carol Hill.
From the San Antonio Coalition of Veterans, Lieutenant
Colonel Hector Villarreal, US Army Retired.
From the San Antonio chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of
America, Mr. Dan Medrano.
From the Legion of Valor, Mr. Don Mason.
From the Alamo Council Navy League, Ms. Carolynn Snyder,
Rear Admiral Robert [? Weedman, ?]
US Navy Retired.
Representing our community leaders--
from the United Way, Mr. Lyndon Herridge.
From the American Red Cross, Mr. Mike Bennett.
From the San Antonio Food Bank, Mr. Eric Cooper.
From the American GI Forum, Ms. Mary Lou Cantu.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us, and thank
you for your service to our country and our community.
Seated before us today are other special groups, one of
which is the family survivors of our military fallen.
They hold an honored place with us, and we ask if they
stand and be recognized.
Because we are remembering 9/11, it is most appropriate
that we have a representative group of first responders.
From the stage we often speak of the military and their
sacrifices through this war and other conflicts, but on
9/11, that day, among those early hours, the teams of
first responders absorbed the blow and suffered losses
unheard of in their ranks.
On 9/11, the fire and police in New York, Washington, and
Shanksville, along with others throughout the land, ran
towards the danger with courage, dedication, and
self-sacrifice that can never be forgotten.
Will Sharon Miller please rise and face the audience?
Sharon represents the New York Port Authority Police.
She is one of only two to survive from her unit.
Today, she is presenting to USAA and to General Robles a
flag flown over Ground Zero.
I'd like to present this to you on behalf of the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department.
It's our World Trade Center flag.
We'll display it proudly in remembrance of that special
day, that fateful day.
Thank you so much for being here with us.
Would all our first responders please rise?
Let's recognize them.
And in a gathering of our size, it's not unusual to find
others who were also at one of the attack sites
involved in some way.
We have asked those we know of to sit here too,
in a special section.
And if there are others throughout the audience,
please rise with them and be recognized as well.
There are many stories and many memories in an event as
far reaching as 9/11.
It has truly changed the fabric of our nation.
We want to share some of those stories with you today.
Here's a story from the army staff at the Pentagon.
I'm Brigadier General Henry Huntley, Deputy Commanding
General, United States Army Recruiting Command
here at Fort Knox.
I've been in the army for 28 years.
I've had many assignments and been in many places.
I was also at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
We were alerted that an airplane had hit one of the
Twin Towers in New York.
But we didn't think anything out of the ordinary, other
than one of those unfortunate mishaps.
As we further looked at the television, we noticed another
airplane that just ran through that building, and just
obliterated the plane.
But you can see right away the devastation that had just
I looked at my boss and I said, sir, that was no
accident right there.
Somebody did that on purpose.
So I think I need to run down to the director of military
support because I believe the folks in New York are going to
need some help.
And just as we got to the Army Operations Center, which may
have been five to seven minutes later, everything just
kind of shock.
It was like thunder.
And everything just kind of rocked to the side.
And at that moment, the alarms started sounding in the
building-- there's been an explosion in the building.
There's been an explosion in the building.
I looked around and I just saw flames.
I saw people injured in ways that you would only see out of
a horror movie almost.
There was a gentleman who was a fireman.
He said, before I let you go back in there, I got to take
your name down.
I got to take your phone number down.
I got to take your unit down just in case you don't come
back out of there.
And although reality had hit already, this was more of
reality for me, when he said, just in case you don't come
back out of there.
But he looked at everybody out there that day and
he said, hey, look.
Nobody has to be ashamed about anything.
If you want to leave, you can leave.
He said, and nobody will say anything about it.
He said, I respect you for being down here.
I appreciate what you're doing.
And he just kind of smile and said everything
is going to be OK.
And you know, I said a little prayer, asking the lord to
give me strength to get through this day.
And if it's my time, please take care of my family.
And I will tell you at that moment, all the pressure that
I had was gone.
It was gone.
And not one person left.
Not one person left.
Everybody stayed to do their part.
And I remember this particular young man, had to be a senior
captain or a young major there.
But as I went back in the building to get him--
and I grabbed him because he was in a bad way.
And I put his arms around my shoulders and we tried to get
him out of there.
And so as we started to leave the building, he started to
collapse a little bit.
And so he stopped and he just--
I guess with all of his might, just kind of forced something
out of his chest.
And I will tell you, something came out of his chest that
were about golf ball-sized.
And it was smoldering.
It was smoldering.
As I looked over to the right of me and I saw what I thought
was a tire.
And sure enough, it was one of the tires from the plane that
had plowed into that building.
And so, it was like, wow.
This is amazing.
So we know what it is.
And don't forget about the folks who were in New York.
Don't forget about the folks in Pennsylvania.
And don't forget about the folks who were at the
Pentagon, because they relive that every day.
They relive it every day.
And so they need your thoughts.
They need your prayers, that something like this won't
[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]
On occasions like this, we hope to bring you speakers who
truly know the subject at hand.
And the subject of 9/11 was learned
under terrible pressure.
There were quick decisions, incomplete details, and lives
on the line.
It made for a very difficult day.
The leader we are about to meet played a critical
behind-the-scenes role on 9/11.
A role that we're going to learn about right now.
Selected by the White House of the nation's 12th presidential
pilot, Mark Tillman served on Air Force One
from 2001 to 2009.
Tillman was at the controls through multiple national
events, most notably he helped protect the president and his
staff on September 11, 2001.
Through careful planning and flawless decision-making,
Tillman and his crew provided two urgent needs for the
president, complete safety from potential threats and
constant connection to the nation's first responders.
Tillman later flew President Bush into war zones on
numerous occasions, a challenge unprecedented,
transporting the nation's president into
the heart of terrorism.
Tillman's distinguished career spans 30 years in the United
States Air Force.
And during that time, he was awarded the Distinguished
Please join me in welcoming Colonel Mark Tillman.
Good morning, and thanks so much for inviting me.
This is truly an honor to be here with you today.
Today is a day of remembrance.
You have to remember the acts of heroism and sacrifice for
the first responders.
To the first responders-- ma'am, I salute you.
You did awesome.
We need to remember those that were attacked and those that
gave their lives.
We need to remember the families of the fallen and
their continual grief.
We always need to keep them in our prayers.
And to all of you, I think about you all the time.
Always remember, never forget.
That's what it's about for me from September 11 on, for the
next 10 years.
September 11, 2001, Air Force One sat ready on the ramp at
We'd flown into Sarasota on September 10, the President's
plan was to do an education tour in Florida.
We arrived in Sarasota on the night of September 10, put the
plane the bed, gave it four hours worth of gas.
The plan was to get up the next morning, take the
president back to Washington.
The president's plan was to go ahead and go to an elementary
school, meet with the children, continue his
When we went to bed that night, we had no idea what was
going to happen on September 11.
September 11, as my crew started working towards the
jet, terrorists were working their way along the East
Coast, starting to hijack aircraft.
We all got out to the aircraft about 2 and 1/2
hours prior to take-off.
Take-off time was scheduled for 10:45 that morning.
As I arrived at the aircraft, everything was normal.
As you can see from the plane, security was normal.
Big man at the foot of the stairs, Big Will Chandler.
Simple cones around the aircraft to delineate the
security zone, and then the rest of the world.
If you step across the cones, you now have business
with Air Force One.
And it better be good business.
The big man at the foot of the stairs will take care of you.
On that day, nothing had changed.
I come up to the foot of the stairs, saluted by Senior
Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force, who tells me
the plane's ready to go, completely secure.
As I'm walking around the plane, I'm
talking with the crew.
This was about 8:40 in the morning.
Everything was perfect.
Everybody was doing their job.
Suddenly, a call over the PA system-- the radio operator.
Colonel Tillman, come upstairs.
As I go upstairs, the radio operator starts talking about
what he's seeing on the television.
We had no information from any command and control authority.
We totally were looking at the television.
The early morning shows were talking about an aircraft that
had hit the Towers.
A simple aircraft action is what they called it, but there
was devastation to the Tower.
My job now is to go ahead and make sure that the plane's
ready to go for any situation.
I knew the president would be wanting to go to New York, so
we got ready to understand exactly what was going on.
We told everybody to be ready.
We assumed we'd be going to New York that afternoon, or
maybe going the next day.
But I'll let you know, there was no intel, there was
nothing that said we're about to be attacked.
We assumed, just like everyone else in this room, that that
picture was a simple aircraft accident.
I went back downstairs, finished up what I needed to
do for planning for the president.
Flight plans were on file for the president to head back to
Washington, DC, as normal.
Shortly after, I went back downstairs.
Once again, the PA comes up--
the radio operator, Colonel Tillman, pick
up the white phone.
We have 87 phones on board the aircraft.
White are non-secure.
I pick up the phone.
The radio operator goes, sir, you need to get up here now.
It looks like the second Tower has been hit.
Everything's going crazy up here.
At that point, I went upstairs.
Once again, all of the footage we saw, all the information we
had was from the news media at this point.
There are a little over 30 phone lines on board the
aircraft, numerous radios.
We're in contact with all the agencies around the world,
anything to handle the emergency action procedures
for the president.
At that point, everything came alive.
Prior to that, it did not.
The next picture.
We now have an understanding that it's a deliberate attack
on the Towers in New York City.
We start pulling out all the plans that we know we have to
execute to keep the president safe and ensure the continuity
At the same time, we're seeing exactly what you're seeing--
Andy Card mentioning to the president, second
tower's been hit.
America's under attack.
At that point, I'm getting information from the director
of the White House Military Office.
Assume that we are a target on the ramp in Sarasota.
It's a large 747.
I'm sitting wide open.
Time was to move the aircraft.
However, we couldn't.
The president's desire was to come rushing back to us and
head to Washington, DC.
When they wrote the plans, I don't think they took into
affect the fact that a proud Texan was the president of the
United States and he was going to go into battle.
He wasn't going to go hide.
Plans didn't have an appendix that said, is he a Texan?
President Bush came--
President Bush did what he needed to do with the students
there at the elementary school.
He kept calm.
Shortly after that, the president went into the hold
area, got his information, started working the issues.
At that time, we are also given the information that
great potential that we are going to be under attack
sitting on the ramp there.
We pushed all of the people away from the aircraft.
The goal being we wanted to make sure whoever was near
that aircraft had a good reason to be there.
Everybody else was hustled away.
We started getting reports of unidentified people all around
Possibility that we were subject to the plan to go
ahead and assassinate the president as well.
We had no idea what was going on-- a lot of misinformation.
All of us are sitting on the plane waiting for the
president to arrive.
We know the president's coming.
He made it from the elementary school in minimum time.
The plane has the capability to start all four engines at
the same time.
I started two of the engines on the right side.
The moment the president hit the stairs and started coming
up the stairs, we started hustling people in the back of
double, triple-checking the manifest, and using a bomb dog
to search everything and everything that they actually
had coming on that aircraft.
We didn't want to take any chances.
President goes ahead and comes on board the aircraft.
As he comes on the aircraft, we move the stairs away, close
the back doors.
The back door's coming up about halfway, start both
engines on the left side.
Right now we're getting information that the Pentagon
Now, to a military man, that means a lot.
I was told that airliners have been hijacked, but now I'm
being told that the Pentagon was bombed.
That means there's some sort of ground phase, some kind of
It doesn't make sense to take them back to Washington, DC,
if the Pentagon has been bombed.
Someone's going to go ahead and be waiting for us.
We try to convince the president of that.
The president had no desire for that.
He was going back to Washington.
He was going to get in the heat of battle.
He was going to lead America.
I'm telling you, he lead America while he was
on Air Force One.
As we're taxiing out, we got more
information on the Pentagon.
We were then learned that the Pentagon was actually attacked
by an airliner.
So I start to taxi out, the Secret Service lets me know
unidentified man at the end of the runway.
I took off opposite direction.
I'm a simple pilot-- you pull back, the houses get smaller.
You push down, the houses get bigger.
On this day, I went ahead and pulled back as hard as I could
and got the plane airborne, set it up on its tail as
President Bush said.
We climbed out of there.
The plan was to take President Bush back to Washington, DC,
As we turned over the central part of Florida, the air
traffic controllers passed to us there was an aircraft
behind us descending into us.
His transponder was off.
He was not talking with the air traffic controllers.
This was significant.
This was the exact same profile that the other
hijacked airliners had had.
I'm a believer there was a big sky.
The chances of somebody attacking us
is extremely small.
Unless they're over the top of us and they were following us
as we climbed on out.
Evasive action for us-- it's a 747 with a couple of galleys,
a bedroom, a medical annex, et cetera.
It wasn't a high G turn, it was a gentle turn heading out
to the west to see if the airliner followed.
It did not.
Once again, it was an incident that occurred.
Gentleman did not contact the air traffic controllers, but
we countered it.
We started heading west at that point.
Also, given word that Angel was next.
Angel was a classified call sign of Air
Force One at a time.
Didn't know how it was going to happen, but Angel was next.
We had already posted a guard at the foot of the stairs of
Air Force One just to make sure that everybody on board
was the right people that we needed.
Didn't want to take any chances.
We also went through the manifests again, went around
Because once again, we were next.
I asked for fighter support.
Nothing better than having an armed fighter on your wing.
Solves a lot issues of the day.
While I'm upstairs, the president's downstairs with
his senior staff.
The picture you can see, Andy Card.
You can see Eddie Marinzel, head of the Secret Service,
his deputy, and then the
military aide to the president.
At this time, it was a fighter pilot, Tom Gould, United
States Air Force.
They are all making the plan of attack.
We were executing numerous plans as we thought to try to
keep the president safe.
Relocate him, move him around, whatever it took.
Numerous plans in the event of nuclear
attack, biological attack.
You name it, there's a book on it.
We all had it memorized.
We knew what to do.
That wasn't the case this day.
The plan was to head back to Washington, DC.
We were hesitant to do it, but that's what
the president wanted.
Thank God, eventually, as events started to unfold, the
president made a decision that no, he would not go back to
the White House.
What his decision was, we would go ahead and try to get
him into Camp David.
I was going ahead and rendezvousing with a small
aircraft to go ahead and take him into Hagerstown.
As we started to put this plan together, we got word United
93 had now made its turn and was starting to head towards
the East Coast.
You got to understand, we took off at 9:45.
The planes, all of them, had attacked their targets and
were starting to move by 10 o'clock--
a very limited amount of time.
To me right now, I thought it took a couple hours to get all
It was minutes.
Everything was occurring and you could watch the president
go ahead and make decisions.
He was on a phone patch with the vice president.
He was talking to the national leaders.
He was running the country from Air Force One.
The president was talking to the vice president.
All the command and control was taking place
from Air Force One.
You've got to understand, at that point, we learned the
president went ahead and gave the authority to allow the
fighters to shoot down an aircraft.
That was the sickest feeling I've ever had knowing that we
were going to go ahead and kill our own people--
kill the small to go ahead and make sure the
many were not killed.
I didn't have time to think about it--
still flying the plane.
Radio operators passed to me United 93 had crashed.
At that point, it was really bad up in the cockpit.
It was bad downstairs, because we all thought the fighters
had shot down the American airliner.
It was a sick feeling.
Shortly after, after accountability of the
fighters, we learned that actually
the plane had crashed.
In addition to the first responders of that day, the
true heroes of 9/11, were the folks who were on that
aircraft, that took control of it and saved thousands of
lives by crashing that aircraft into the
They are the true heroes, along with all the first
Eventually, fighter aircraft arrived on our wing.
As we're heading out over Northern Florida, the Gulf of
Mexico, we hear from Houston Center.
Air Force One, you have unidentified aircraft coming
up on you from your 7 o'clock position.
Who are they?
We don't know.
We'd ask for fighter support, but hadn't been approved yet.
We didn't have it.
It was a simple decision by a great military man at the
Houston Ellington Field.
He sent his fighters up to go ahead and
protect Air Force One.
Looked like he had been watching a lot of things
occur, but no one was making the decision.
He sent fighters up to our side.
Historically, great decision.
That was the president's guard unit.
We couldn't have written history any better-- the
Ellington boys taking care of the president
of the United States.
They stayed on our wing the whole day.
Barksdale Air Force Base.
As we're starting to head across the northern part of
Florida, the president makes the decision that he is not
going to go back to Washington.
He is going to go ahead and land because he needs to
address the nation.
Air Force One had tremendous audio capability.
He could talk to anybody in the world, but we couldn't
beam his image to the ground.
No streaming video, no VTC at the time.
Plane fully equipped now.
However, at that time, it didn't.
We had to land.
We had to find a place completely secure with
I'm a military officer.
I got to admit, all my professional military
education was opening up those books, pretending like I was
reading and going to take the test.
But the one thing I did know was Barksdale Air Force Base
held the nuclear mission, so they had tremendous security.
I knew if I could take him into
there, he would be protected.
When I landed in Barksdale, this is symbolic of the United
States Air Force.
Immediately, the United States Military went into action--
time of war.
This gentleman here protected us.
He was one of many around the aircraft.
President got off the aircraft,
addressed the nation.
At the same time, I went ahead and filled Air Force One up
with roughly 14 hours worth of gas.
We were completely full of fuel.
As we took off from Louisiana, the fighter escort once again,
decision was made to take him to Offutt Air Force Base.
We had to get him underground.
The reason being is because we didn't know what the threat
against the president of the United States was.
We wanted to keep him safe until we found out what was
going on in Washington.
All the time the president's downstairs, he's watching
images on the television.
The TV on Air Force One wasn't what it is today.
It's not a satellite feed.
It was literally the feed from local news stations that had
So it was kind of waving in and out.
We were getting feed from the ground, from the big antennas
that you used to see along the ground.
President was not upset, but he was frustrated that he
couldn't see exactly what was going on in New York, what was
going on in the Pentagon.
He was getting information.
We subsequently changed that.
But the president went underground at Offutt Air
Force Base, had a chance to address the military leaders
and national command authority.
We were told to be ready to go in about six to eight hours as
the president left.
The president went underground and he did
what he always does--
he made things happen, got to business, and then he was
ready to go.
So shortly after an hour of being on the ground in Offutt,
the president came running back to us.
He came on board the aircraft.
As he comes up to me, he does like he always does-- big
Texas thing apparently, to either hit you in the chest or
hit you somehow.
Tillman, let's get home.
At that point, the flight attendants around him are
starting to cry.
He puts his arm around them, consoles them, tells them to
get back to their job, we've got to take care of business.
He's going to go ahead and take care of America.
He goes back into his office.
As we head across the country in the 747, we're doing about
9-0, 0.92 mach.
We are trucking.
They're pulling fighters of all the cities--
to go ahead and protect us.
Was there a threat against us?
No, there wasn't.
But it's the greatest thing ever to have a fighter on your
wing, letting the president know that
we're there, Mr. President.
We're ready to take care of business.
As we started heading towards Washington, the two fighters
that were actually with me the whole day, still refueling
back at Offutt.
They got airborne.
They are trucking after us.
I want them to lead me into Washington, DC.
I did not know that at the point, the United States Air
Force had sent fighters from Washington, DC, the DC Air
National Guard coming at us off the nose.
I did a 360 turn over the Shenandoahs to make sure the
fighters could come up underneath us, join up on us.
At the same time, fighter support came in from
Marc Sasseville, the lead of the F-16, asked the question,
if I could come on your wing, Air Force One?
He came up on the wing.
He came a lot closer than on the wing as you
can see in the picture.
That was fine with me.
I protected the president all day, didn't want to actually
get into a mid-air with an F-16.
But once again, it just goes out.
The president was extremely happy.
The morale was extremely high as you're heading home after a
long day, fighter on your wing, big fighter thumbs up
from the man, letting the president and the
commander-in-chief know that he's ready to do business.
Downstairs, the president, all the staff--
Karl Rove, Andy Card, Ari Fleischer, everybody is
looking out the window.
Long day, but they're ready to head home.
They've got a lot of business to take care of once we land.
As we come in and we're going across Washington national,
you can see off in the distance the Pentagon
I'd been in the cockpit the whole day flying the aircraft.
I had no idea of the actual damage.
I was getting reports from the radio operators of all the
damage at the Towers, I just didn't see it.
This finally hit home with me as I came over and I could see
I could see the smoldering.
I could see everything going on at the Pentagon.
And the president as well, could see everything.
We land at Andrews Air Force Base.
The fighters coming up over the runway, protecting us,
making sure everything is clear.
As we taxi in, the Marines are waiting for us.
Marine One now has to do dangerous job.
Has to take the president through an unknown area.
They go ahead and take him on a low-level trip back to the
White House, not knowing what is waiting for us in
As it turns out, the Marines executed perfectly as
expected, brought the president back
to the White House.
This was around 6:30, 6:45 that evening.
The president addressed the nation after that.
As I put the plane to bed, I basically
reflected on the day.
Had no idea what I had just accomplished.
Focused on the mission, similar to what the general
previously had talked about at the Pentagon.
Everybody executed perfectly.
First responders, military, all can be proud
of what they did.
Two days later, the plan was to take the president up to
New York so he could go to Ground Zero.
At that time, we were still given information that there
were still terrorist cells within the United States.
Our plan was to take the present to McGuire Air Force
Base on the 747, land, helicopter into Wall Street.
He'd then go into Ground Zero.
I sit there on the plane and wait for him, but then we
decoy on the way out.
We were to make sure that the country and the world did not
know where the president of the United States was.
So a little side note-- as the president came back, he made a
pass by Air Force One and then he came to me on a small
aircraft, the Gulfstream III.
I then took him into Hagerstown.
Air Force One then took off, headed back
to Washington empty.
Fighter support rolling in on him.
Everybody thought we had taken him back to Washington.
That's what we had to do from September 11 on, we had to
decoy and make sure the president stayed safe.
All of you in the military, all the first responders did
exactly the same thing.
President on the ground in New York City.
I sat in the plane and listened to the president on
the destroyed fire truck and on the rubble
talking with the firemen.
I'll never forget the gentleman yelling out in the
back, we can't hear you.
The president calling back to him, America can hear you.
That voice resounded through the whole eight years in the
We would land at different locations.
Thousands of people at the foot of the stairs waiting to
see the president of the United States.
It wasn't so much they're waiting to see President Bush,
they were Americans.
There were signs--
a little kid sitting, basically right there on the
side of Air Force One.
The little sign of about a seven-year-old.
All it said was, "Put me in, Coach."
Too young to fight, but it didn't matter.
Everybody was bond together.
We were Americans.
Everything happened, and we were taking care of business.
The president showed us all the badge that he got from the
Port Authority Police.
As I mentioned to you, that means a lot to you.
And then, a lot to the president.
Once again, the theme of today is always
remember, never forget.
The president had that with him.
That's how the president always remembered.
Same with all of us.
This picture was taken after September 11, obviously.
But it's very fitting.
United States of America, the American flag sitting in
Ground Zero, devastation all around it.
But it is still free.
It's still flying.
It's only appropriate that the first responders are the ones
that are raising that flag.
That picture sat in the center of my desk, signed by
President Bush, for all eight years while I was the
commander of Air Force One-- under the glass.
I could look at it every morning and remember why I was
working there in the United States Military.
That picture still rests on my desk as I
work at Discount Tire.
I come in every morning and I see that picture.
No, that wasn't a plug for Discount Tire, but--
It's the same group of Americans.
I'm a civilian now, but it's the same group.
It's the same thing you all do here at USAA.
You come in every morning.
You've got a tremendous job to do.
Well, we can never forget.
That picture reminds me every day--
tremendous sacrifices by all of you, first responders,
families of the fallen.
I'll always remember, I will never forget September 11.
I thank all of you for inviting me here.
General Robles, thank you so much for having me.
And to all of you, I salute you.
Thank you so much.
What a fascinating story.
What a fascinating story.
Thank you for sharing it with us today in a special day of
We also want to thank you for your service to the nation,
for your service to the commander-in-chief on that
special, fateful day, and for all you have done for this
country in uniform and out of uniform.
So thank you, Colonel Tillman.
Appreciate very much you being here with us on a special day.
I'm going to switch subjects just a little bit and talk
about USA employees.
Those of us who are in this auditorium who work here know
that our reputation and our national prominence is based
on our member service reps-- the people who answer the
phones every day.
This year they'll answer the phone 69 million times.
69 million times.
And generally when they answer the phone, something is
happening in people's lives that are stressful.
Somebody's had a car accident.
Someone's had a fire.
Someone's had a death in the family.
And our hallways have legends of-- what we call urban
legends about the quality of our service reps and what they
do for the nation.
There are many, many anecdotes, many, many stories.
And I heard one right after 9/11.
It was probably a couple days after I heard about one of our
member service reps who had done something very heroic on
that day that typically defines above and beyond a
call of duty.
So I'd like to share with you a little film clip right here.
It's going to talk to you about that particular member
For Kristina Richardson, it was a beautiful Fall day.
She commuted to her office in the World Trade Center of New
York as she did every business day.
But tragedy came with the morning sun.
She emerged from the subway with a litter of
paper in the air--
office paper, full sheets.
And it was unusually loud, even for this
busy part of town.
Fire engines, too, adding to the confusion.
Finally, the smoke.
Even New York sidewalks are not this disturbed.
What must be happening?
We got off the train and just regularly
coming up the subway.
I believe I heard a very loud noise.
And then, I could see people running.
I was able to turn to my right and see the first tower--
that it was on fire.
I still had no idea what's going on.
I thought a bomb had gone off at this point in my building
and their building, the other building.
No one knew anything.
Although I had looked to my right and I saw a large jet
sitting on the side of the West Side Highway.
The building fell.
And I do remember once again, I took shelter.
And no one else seemed to be doing that.
So I got up and joined the throng again heading outside
out of Manhattan.
And you can see that the World Trade
Center had been attacked.
Upon clearing the Williamsburg Bridge and finally reaching
Brooklyn, things looked better.
And then I just said, well, let's just try an 800 number.
I pulled out a USAA card that I had in my wallet
and we dialed it.
I'm sorry, but I'm in New York City.
Can I help you?
Is there anyway you can place phone calls and tell people
Yes, most definitely.
I work in the World Trade Center.
Are you OK?
And who am I speaking with?
Trying to find our way home, but all the phones are down
and everything's down.
One moment please.
I had my headphones stretched so I could watch the
television of tragedy that was happening.
And the phone rang and Kristina was on the other line
asking if I would be kind enough to get a message to her
family because there was no telephones that were working.
This is an emergency call One moment please.
Kristina, the line is ready to go.
Oh, we're so glad to hear from you.
How can we get in touch with you?
I don't think you can.
I think I'm going to try--
I'm not at home.
Anyway, I'm going to try to get home and then I'll be on
my cable modem.
I'm in Williamsburg so I can't--
I'm not even at my house and all the phones are down.
She's routing this through USAA.
But I am fine.
My building is gone, but I am fine.
we've been glued to it, your dad is about to die.
Well, I'm fine.
OK, thank you so much.
I'll talk to you--
We love you.
Love you, too.
Thank you so much.
If you need any other help, please call USAA.
And I will be glad to forward the calls for you.
OK, thank you.
What happened on September 11 is going to affect our grief
for a hundred years.
Ordinary people caught in an extraordinary situation.
At 10 years hence, how would they feel about that short
And if they met for the first time--
Oh my goodness, it's you.
I'm so glad to see you.
Oh my gosh.
So nice to meet you, finally.
Your voice is exactly the same.
I remember that day so well.
I pulled out my card and called the phone number and
got in touch with you.
It's so wonderful to meet you after all.
There are caring and compassionate
people in this world.
They still exist.
And even a dismal day, like 9/11, cannot take that away.
We are pleased there was trust and people willing to do the
right thing, because it's the right thing to do.
[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]
We pride ourselves on having our member service reps, our
employees, love our members.
There's a depiction of what love really means when the
chips are down.
Like I said, we answer the phone 59 million
times a year this year.
Many of the cases will be just like that.
So Kristina couldn't be here with us.
We asked her to be here, but she had a conflict.
But the member service rep you saw in there, Darlene Beeson
is here, and I'd like her to stand up and take a round of
applause for all the people who work tirelessly at this
company on behalf of the members.
Darlene, could you please stand up?
At this time, ladies and gentleman, we ask that you
join employees at USAA as we observe a moment of silence in
remembrance of those who lost their lives in the attacks of
September 11, 2001.
Please be seated.
[MUSIC - "AMAZING GRACE"]
We've taken a few minutes today to remember and consider
the events of September 11, 2001.
When I finally left work that day, it was about 2:00 AM.
It was the first chance I had to take a moment and watch the
coverage on television.
And I was shocked by the totality of the
damage and the pain.
I know it was days before I slept fully, or could stop
long enough to consider what had happened.
The events of that day and the weeks that followed were
painful and they were shocking.
For 10 years, it has been part of our collective remembrance.
It is important to take that experience and learn from it.
We know that those who would harm us have not lost their
determination, so we must maintain our own resolve and
our vigilance to stop them.
We owe that and much more to the victims of September 11,
whom we remember and honor today.
Thank you for being with us today and for remembering.
Let us resolve to never forget the events of 9/11.
Most especially, this coming Sunday.
Thank you for being with us today.