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NYC air traffic controller recalls his experience working on 9/11: 'Completely aghast'

Christopher Tucker, an air traffic controller in New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001, said the day started off just like any other, but quickly became the most unforgettable of his long career. ( More...

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James Simms 11
I happened to be @ my Army Reserve unit for specialized computer training on 9/11. Initially, we thought it was part of the scenario until told to stay off the Internet to save bandwidth. Huddling around TVs, we watched both towers fall. Eventually we were told to go home..
Michael Mitchell 10
We as Americans owe every ATC person our deepest gratitude for their actions on that day. How the heck did they get thousands of plane down safely so fast. It was a modern miracle.
Dale Ballok 3
So very true!
WatnNY 9
I was at my computer doing paperwork that morning when on my radio scanner I heard on the FBI channel a call to an agent. The agent replied to the base station. The base station told him to contact the base. The agent then said, "Hey did you hear about the plane that hit the World Trade Center?" My first thought was a small aircraft had flown into one of the towers by accident somehow. The FBI base station then said, "Call base immediately. They just hit the other tower." I was thinking to myself 'What the hell?' I got up from my desk and turned CNN Headline news to the horror that would forever change the world. I watched the news until the Pentagon got hit at 9:37am. Then I knew we were in for it. At 10am my phone rang and my reserve military police unit was activated. Within an hour I was on my way to my base.....
Cleffer 8
I spent a large chunk of my youth at the WTC having lunch with my father, who was an electrician during the construction of Building 7. I still don't like talking about it. I have not been back to the site. I will not see the movie.

[This poster has been suspended.]

Cleffer 7
Over 20 years later and it's still surreal.
mary susan watkins 6
a tragic day for all americans..this year it will be 21 years since the horrific attack,and every year around september 11th,we all relive what happened,where we were,people we knew or what we were doing..working for an airline i was caught in a strange situation at the airport that morning with sudden flight cancellations,airport news tvs being shut off, and many,many people asking questions for which there was no answer..
Dale Ballok 5
I was on duty with a CLE suburban Fire Dept. Came in from checking the equipment and everyone was staring at the tv, in silence, and disbelief. I asked what was going on and they told me that the first tower was hit. Shortly after, the second hit occurred. As we stood there frozen by what we were watching, we were put on alert, as a report that another plane had entered CLE airspace! We didn’t know what to expect, only that if a plane came down near us, we would definitely be called to assist Cleveland Fire and other area departments. It turned out to be Flt 93 that was westbound, but turned back towards the east and eventually crashed in Shankesville, Pa. That experience, and the fact of later finding out that that plane was probably headed for the White House, is permanently etched in my memory. RIP everyone who perished, and all the First Responders who gave their lives trying to save people.
Allen Irons 5
I was in line at a DFW AA gate for a 9:30 flight to Boise. Back then as you will recall, you could get your boarding passes at the gate as security was totally relaxed. As the gate agent handed me my boarding pass his phone rang. I heard him say "one of ours?", and he walked away from the counter. At that moment, the CNN TV monitors in the airport lit up like crazy telling what had just happened. Everyone just froze and looked at the screens. That gate agent came back sobbing and continued to hand out boarding passes to a flight that would never leave. I felt strange and afraid to be in the airport. Wanted to get the hell out now as if we were the next target. After about an hour DFW shut down the tv monitors. Terminal PA Announced that they were closing DFW, and that those with checked bags could return later in the day to retrieve their luggage. My associate and I was left and went to the DFW Embassy Suites lounge to watch the news for hours. Went back to retrieve our bags about 3:00PM. Security was everywhere inside and out. That was just the beginning of the major change in travel for the rest of our lives.
Larry Toler 5
I was still working as a contractor for duPont in Richmond, VA. As it happened I was working grave shift for two major upgrades. I came home and was watching the news before I fell asleep. I saw the first plane hit and I thought someone was pissed. I was in shock so I called my wife first as she was in Kennesaw, GA. She started watching. Then I called my dad who worked on Ft Lee, VA and was supposed to do a briefing later that day at the Pentagon. I couldn't get him on his office phone. He finally called me back on his Blackberry and said he made it as far as to the motor pool and was recalled back to his office and couldn't say more. It was pretty surreal to say the least. We're used to seeing stupidity like that overseas but when it hits home turf it's devastating.
With that said, any act of terrorism is devastating no matter what part of the world. While I was active duty and as a DoD civilian throughout the '90's living overseas always watch and listen. LOL, though, my first overseas assignment I got briefed if I heard any Communist or subversive conversations to alert either OSI or CID.
John D 4
I worked in Lower Manhattan for several weeks in 2019. I spent a lot of time walking around the area and occasionally visualized the mayhem that occurred that day.
We all knew many buildings were damaged that day, but many were must have been deemed a total loss and torn down. Most of the buildings I saw in the immediate vicinity were relatively new. Some were still under construction at the time I was there.
James Simms 4
I was @ Ft. Dix Summer of 2001 attending the Fourth & final session for Command & General Staff College.

For the Guard/Reserves, the way it worked was Sessions One & Three, Officers went to a central location once a week for six months, then a two week Session @ Ft. Dix for Sessions Two & Four.

We were cut loose the weekend in between the two weeks. Some went to NYC, others to the beach, etc. I choose to go to Valley Forge & mess around Philly w/some others. I had been on a Youth Church visit to DC & NYC over Spring Break of 1977, so I wasn’t really that interested in going to NYC again.
Leander Williams 3
That is a day I will never forget. I watched it all unfold on CNN, and even after I got to work, there was very little being done because everyone was glued to the tv. Rest in continued peace for all of those who lost their lives.
Robert Lewis 3
FWIW, I was changing hydraulic filters in the cargo compartment of a C-130H at the Milwaukee AF Reserve base. The plane was undergoing a periodic inspection. Can't remember if it was that day or shortly thereafter that management ordered us to conclude the inspection ASAP and get the plane ready for real-world missions. And, being located at Gen. Mitchell IAP was weird when all the the civilian flights were grounded.

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Dale Ballok 4
Apparently you’re not familiar with the characteristics of fire, building construction, and physics. As a retired firefighter, I can tell you that jet fuel, along with the massive structural damage incurred, was a worse case scenario.
BTW, per the laws of physics, the second tower hit collapsed before the first, because it was hit lower from the top, causing a heavier mass above the damaged area to collapse the weakened beams and continue downward.One more thing, those towers were constructed in the 70’s and only designed to withstand a hit from the largest plane operating at the time. The planes that were involved that day were quite a bit larger, and carried more fuel. Study up. You’ll be amazed what you find out, instead of throwing out unfounded scenarios and assumptions.
Richard Woollams 2
Read and learn.


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