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From 9/11/2001 to Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Capt. Erin Mahoney
  • 90th Medical Support Squadron
I was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, during the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I felt compelled to reflect on what this day meant to me, and the following is the journal entry I wrote from my living quarters that day in Afghanistan.

"September 11, 2010. This evening in the chow hall, the TVs were playing the broadcast from the events of September 11, 2001. I watched the replay of the second plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers as black plumes of smoke incessantly flowed from both buildings. I still have the same emotional reaction to those events that I did nine years ago - it enrages me. It was that momentous act of terrorism that led me on a personal journey and landed me in Afghanistan today.

"As I'm sitting here writing this, the sirens on Kandahar Air Field, roughly 2 miles away, are ringing, signaling the second rocket attack of the day. It's a sobering reminder of the reality we face on a daily basis. All it takes is for you to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every time we go beyond the confines of the base, whether it's via convoy or helicopter, I wonder if "today is the day." You just never know. So, you take comfort in the fact that the security detail you're with is the best in the world. But, all it takes is one improvised explosive device, one rocket, one bullet to change your life forever.

"However, I wouldn't have it any other way. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for the Air Force. Nine years ago today, I was glued to the TV in my dorm room at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama. I watched in utter amazement as the Twin Towers crumbled to pieces right before my eyes. I saw people hanging out of windows, falling out of windows and jumping out of windows. Video cameras captured the horror of the situation; you could see the shock on people's faces and hear the fear in their voices. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that someone would come to our country and kill so many innocent people in the name of religion. Terrorists - extremists - using religion as a veil for pure evil.

"I didn't want to be one of those people who sat back and complained about how such an injustice had been done to us. I was moved in a profound way; I wanted to get involved. So, I did. And here I am in Afghanistan along with many other men and women. I knew what I was committing to. I committed, I volunteered to defend our country with my life. And I'm proud to do it."

My deployment was wrought with experiences I may never come across again. It was both rewarding and trying at times, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I think back to that fateful September morning, I remember why I embarked on this journey and the importance of what we do everyday. I'm proud to call myself an American, a Patriot and an Airman.