By Director of Staff Bill Foote
It was a day of immense tragedy and grief -- and it was a day of service before self.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the nation's attention was frozen as never before; we all watched in horror as the unimaginable scene of jetliners crashing into the World Trade Center unfolded live on television and was then replayed over and over. We were immediately transfixed and numbed by the shock.
Yet, within minutes of the New York tragedy, every member of the Bolling AFB team knew what had to be done here. Many knew they wouldn't get home that night, make that class, help Johnny or Mary with their homework. The Bolling AFB team pitched in to do what was asked, and the wing staff was ready and able to join in the work.
The first order of business was to notify our security forces ready augmentees to respond to the law enforcement office and await information on reporting for security duty and assignments for security at numerous spots around the base. Our augmentees were fully trained and primed to accomplish their duties.
The directorate of personnel, financial management, directorate of staff, judge advocate, and plans and programs each supplied personnel to the extraordinary effort. Little did they know -- did anyone know -- something of this magnitude would ever happen. Little did anyone know that they would be needed this long.
Reserve Affairs immediately started to work on augmentation issues to assist transportation, security forces and medical group needs.
Public affairs went into action by immediately publishing the Beam-Xtra, a one-page newsletter of current daily situations and information, the first week following the attacks. The daily newsletter provided residents and base employees needed information on bus schedules, gate procedures and guest information to name but a few. Then the public affairs staff established another way to close the information gap by creating Bolling's Straight Talk Line, an automated telephone announcement updated daily to provide the needed information.
Financial management continued to prepare for the year-end closeout that ended up being the best ever for the wing. They accomplished this despite the added hardship of pulling entry control point duty and other necessary additional duties associated with the aftermath of the attacks and base security.
Safety sent one of its own to transportation to drive a bus; The member had been a driver prior to entering the safety career field.
The chaplains were busy from the onset providing much needed comfort and counseling services to those affected by the attack at the Pentagon.
Plans and programs dipped deep into their personnel pool to ensure the battle staff was well-manned on a 24/7 basis with battle staff directors and administrative support.
One member of the XP team just happened to get off the bus at the Pentagon when the aircraft hit and immediately assisted in helping the injured and less fortunate.
The ceremonies and protocol shop supported the Bolling team by sending one of its officers to the military personnel office to manage a number of initiatives.
Command administration provided personnel to staff the battle staff administrative cell, the wing staff group control center and the security forces.
And lets not forget all the civilians who helped out by relieving many of the uniformed people in manning entry control points. That kind of selfless service and dedication to our mission is what helps make us great and is much appreciated.
There are many other stories to tell, but the main point is that we are here to serve as a team in the defense of our wing, this base, our community, this nation.
We serve to ensure the work of the U. S. Air Force continues in service to the president.
We thank every airman and civilian from the wing staff, and the groups, in persevering and getting us through this difficult time.
By Group Commander Col. Jeff Webb
As tragedy came to our doorsteps on Sept. 11, the 11th Logistics Group responded as a highly integrated team providing seamless support to the Pentagon and Bolling organizations.
Immediate transportation support was provided to evacuees and senior personnel during the crises at the Pentagon. Continuous follow-on transportation support included transporting over 670 congressman and 500 military personnel to and from the National Cathedral in support of the national prayer service event.
When increased security requirements on base caused the elimination of the routine commercial shuttle service from Anacostia metro station to Bolling, an internal shuttle program was established. The wing's professional traffic management office staff arranged alternate travel routes and airline tickets for personnel stranded worldwide, ensuring their safe return home. In addition, they spearheaded the groundwork for the entire NCR re-establishment of safer and more secure methods for the delivery of personal property shipments, minimizing disruption delays to moving military families.
The supply squadron quickly issued helmets, vests and ammo, as well as locating other items to support wing security forces airmen who were providing the necessary protection to the base and its personnel. As demands grew, supply located, purchased and supplied miscellaneous supply items such as mobility bags, cots and furniture for 11th Wing units as well as direct support for the HQ Air Force Operations Center and FEMA
The contracting squadron employed innovative contracting methods to quickly find camelback bags, dust masks and over 180 tons of sand along with sandbags all bought and delivered within a day.
A contracting crisis action team researched multiple sources and bought emergency respirators needed by the search and rescue team at the Pentagon, delivering in hours.
Logistics group provided augmentees to security forces and for sandbagging details clearly displaying a "one-force, one-team, one-mission" attitude.
The support provided by these efforts happened because of the dedicated airman and civilian workers of the 11th Wing.
The members of the 11th Logistics Group are proud to be part of such a distinguished team. We lived by our logistics motto, "On time, first time, every time."
By Group Commander Col. James Riggins
The tragic events of Sept. 11 triggered a wave of heroic action and teamwork both in the civilian and military communities. Almost immediately, the U.S. military responded to a wholly unexpected situation inside our own borders with a high degree of vigor, flexibility and resolve.
No unit in the U.S. military went unaffected by these events -- not even the 11th Operations Group, home of the USAF Band, USAF Honor Guard and Arlington Chaplaincy.
Within hours of the initial attack in New York and Washington, specially trained "combat guardsmen" and other honor guard members were conducting 24-hours per day security patrols at various locations throughout Bolling under very tense and uncertain conditions.
The USAF Honor Guard augmented the 11th Transportation Squadron with additional drivers in support of contingency operations in the National Capital Region. Over the subsequent days, numerous volunteers from both the band and honor guard helped the base civil engineers fill over 10,000 sandbags to complement the base security posture.
Other volunteers helped keep our base family members informed of the ever-changing situation by distributing "Beam-Xtras" throughout Bolling base housing.
And to keep the base fed while its people worked their way through the crisis, 11th Operations Group members worked in the base dining facility assembling hundreds of box lunches.
The operations group support was not limited to Bolling. The Arlington Chaplaincy also worked tirelessly over three weeks to comfort families, rescuers, workers and Pentagon employees impacted by the attack. They performed scheduled funerals during the day, then volunteered their help at night and on weekends to those in need. The band did some soothing of their own with performances for rescue and recovery workers at the Pentagon attack site.
In the grand scheme of what our nation went through on Sept. 11, the role of these Air Force members may seem minor, but such a conclusion would be inaccurate. The team effort and dedication from these and all members of the 11th Wing contributed to successful accomplishment of our primary crisis mission of defending the base, ensuring continuity of 11th Wing command and control, and contributing to the continuity of Headquarters Air Force command and control.
Thus, we are grateful for the men and women of the 11th Operations Group who rose to the occasion and did their part to ensure mission success under very difficult circumstances. This teamwork is what makes the 11th Wing and U.S. Air Force great -- and it is what will get us through the trying days ahead.
By Group Commander Col. Edward Cunningham
"My first day in the Pentagon Flight Med Clinic began on September 11, 2001. I came in the morning for an orientation to the clinic routine, and ended the day sitting on a stretcher staring into a gaping hole on the west side of the Pentagon," said Suzanne Bucci, a registered nurse describing her first day as a volunteer nurse as part of the 11th Medical Group.
Said Col. John Baxter, "We couldn't have done it without her. Less than three hours after she started as a volunteer she was delivering life-saving care to critically injured patients. We had blast injuries, severe burns and inhalation injuries. She was right there through it all."
In describing the scene, Baxter said, "Everyone knew it was some type of terrorist attack. We were aware of the attacks on the World Trade Center. We heard a muffled explosion in the Pentagon and the halls were full of smoke. Our patients described 'an explosion' so we assumed it was a bomb. We also assumed there might be another explosion at any time. Runners were yelling to evacuate and hundreds of people were streaming out through the smoke-filled hallways. Some patients were lying on the floors, others were being carried by co-workers."
Airman 1st Class Shauna Spruell had reported to the Pentagon about two weeks earlier. She was fresh out of technical training as an aeromedical technician.
"She was rock-solid," said Baxter. "She focused on the mission and we were able to stabilize and evacuate a number of patients."
Another newcomer to the clinic, Master Sgt. Paul Lirette, was also key to the response. Lirette is a radiology technician newly assigned as the superintendent of the clinic. He responded to the initial impact and explosion as part of the medical team, helping to carry trauma equipment. After assisting with one critically injured patient, a runner shouted that there were a number of people trapped in a room in one of the outer rings of the building. Lirette ran with them and eventually worked with a group of people to free a trapped individual in a room with a collapsed ceiling.
Baxter said that the next time he saw the master sergeant was about an hour later, outside the Pentagon, in the triage area. Lirette recounted at that time how they had worked feverishly in an area with a collapsed ceiling, with dense smoke and had eventually been successful in freeing a man who had been trapped underneath collapsed debris. Lirette remarked he felt bad at the time because he had been pulling a lot of debris out and got it all over a three-star general who was also pulling out debris. As he later learned, that three-star general was Lt. Gen. Paul K. Carlton, surgeon general of the Air Force. Both Carlton and Lirette have since detailed their roles in People Magazine and other publications.
Lirette's modest observation of his actions that day were summarized when explained, "I was just doing my job. That's what the Air Force pays me to do."
By Group Commander Col. Cardell Richardson
America is strong and resilient, even in adversity. The Air Force celebrates the adage "flexibility is the key to air power". The 11th Support Group continues to show great strength and flexibility in responding to the multitude of tasks levied on the wing subsequent to the infamous events of Sept. 11.
Just like the 11th Civil Engineers at the South Gate paving the way to allow 160 vehicles per hour on base, so has the support group been paving the way to normalcy for base residents and visitors during a time that is anything but normal for America.
The 11th Security Forces quickly transitioned from a predominately law enforcement posture to one of air base defense. With a surge of manpower and heightened security requirements due to increased force protection conditions, security forces quickly beefed up security at the gates, increased patrols around base and helped enhance security measures throughout the wing.
The sandbag firing posts around base as well as security forces troops and augmentees donned in full "battle rattle" from head-to-toe are visual reminders of security enhancements made to SUPPORT YOU.
But like the feet of the duck, many of the actions that propel the wing forward are less visible. Beneath the surface are some equally important 11th Support Group functions that are on-going daily to ensure not only the security, but the well-being and comfort of those that live and work on Bolling. We also provide the same support to thousands of people at the Pentagon and around the National Capital Region.
The 11th Services provided over 3,500 meals to Pentagon attack relief workers, battle staff members, augmentees and tenant agencies that worked around the clock to SUPPORT those that dedicated their time and effort to get America on the road to recovery.
The 11th Support Group, where "We make it happen," seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the world renowned Tops In Blue to perform here on base. Recognizing that recreation is as good for the soul as hard work, the 11th Services Division secured TIB for an amazing two days of performances at the community center, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27 at
7:30 p.m., and another performance Sunday Oct. 28 at 3 p.m.
The 11th Support Group is mission support oriented. The 11th Mission Support Squadron did just that, provided people to support the immediate mission of rescue-and-recovery operations at the Pentagon. Later the 11th MSS worked around the clock to get personnel deployed to destinations around the globe.
These are uncertain times, but one thing is certain: The key to calm is communication. In fact it's often said in the 11th Support Group that "communication is a wonderful thing, when it works."
Well, the 11th Communications Squadron has been hard at work in supporting the increased operations tempo of the 11th Wing's America at war efforts. The communications squadron set up phones, faxes, work station terminals, communications both secure and unsecure to support over 100 displaced air staff members from the Pentagon and 11th CS ensured that the air staff operations did not skip a beat.
The 11th Support Group's Community Programs office also aided in the communication effort. Community programs very quickly championed the mission of choreographing five town hall meetings for the week following the crisis. This gave 11th Wing Commander Col. James P. Hunt a forum to effectively communicate to the entire base populace, information regarding all aspects of the base operations under the newly heightened force protection condition.
The weeks since Sept. 11 have clearly demonstrated an American resolve and sense of team spirit of which we can all be proud.
As Americans we are 260 million strong. Imagine the momentum of all Americans moving in the same direction, toward recovery and greater strength through unity. Who can stop us? No one or nothing can.
I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud to command the 11th Support Group. Support who? SUPPORT YOU!!!