The Security Issue
FEATURE | 9/11 remembered

9/11

remembered


Three alumni share their stories.

 

 

By Jenny Jedeikin


On September 11, 2001, when four commercial jets carrying civilian passengers and crew members were hijacked by a group of terrorists, the world changed forever. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, and the people of the United States and their sense of security were forever altered. For those people whose lives were directly impacted, the day will never be forgotten. What follows are the personal accounts of three University of Phoenix alumni whose perspectives provide alarming insight.

At the point of impact

As an employee at a German bank with offices directly across the street from the World Trade Towers, on the 34th floor of the World Financial Center, Ela Heyn McAdams, who received her MBA from University of Phoenix in 1995, had a front-row seat to the tragedy. The morning remains etched in her memory. After arriving early to work on 9/11, McAdams recalls hearing a strange low rumbling sound and shrugging it off. "Then there was an announcement over the loudspeaker: ‘There has been an emergency. A plane has hit a World Trade Center tower. There is no danger to our building, and we ask that you stay indoors.’"

McAdams and her coworkers quickly gathered at the windows as they watched "entire floors of the tower on fire." Tragically, she began to identify people falling from the building. "I heard a woman behind me say, ‘Oh no, that one’s a person,’" McAdams recalls. "And as I turned to look, I saw a man in a brown suit and loafers flying through the air, looking down. He looked almost like he was riding a surfboard, with one leg slightly in front of the other, his arms out for balance, and his tie flapping up toward his face. He fell out of sight behind the Marriot as he came down."

Moments later, McAdams was stunned to see the second plane, Flight 175, emerge from smoke, just before it hit the second tower. "I heard an engine very close," remembers McAdams, "and then I saw the United Airlines plane emerge from the smoke, flying toward the south tower.

The Security Issue
FEATURE | 9/11 remembered

“A million things are racing through your mind. You feel infringed upon—your security and your freedom.”

Matthew Butler, MIS/M ’04

 

 

It was so close that I could see people in the cockpit, and I could see passengers hastily pulling down their window shades. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me because I’d never seen a plane flying that close to me before."

McAdams remembers the high-pitched whine of the engines as the plane banked toward the building. “Then I saw the plane actually hit the building, and pieces of the building’s outside frame flew in all directions,” she recalls. “Lots of things flew out of the building, things on fire, pieces of steel, and I thought I saw a body or two. Then there was a huge explosion, which I could feel shake our building, and which lit up the sky in an enormous fireball.”

After exiting the building via the stairs with the rest of her co-workers, McAdams made her way home, where she spent several weeks before her company relocated. "During that time every news channel showed footage of the towers, and I was having nightmares and constantly kept hearing the sound of the second plane. Yet, I was oddly ‘drawn’ by these news reports and had to make an effort to avoid them," she recalls.

But 10 years later, she still thinks about the incident nearly every day. “I used to think that I was more in control of my circumstances and that if something bad happened, I had the power to escape,” says McAdams, who is now married with a 3-year-old daughter, “but now I realize there are some things we just can’t have control over.”

In the days that followed

For Bobbi Quinn, a United Airlines flight attendant and the secretary-treasurer of the Association of Flight Attendants, the events of 9/11 took on a more personal significance. Quinn was on her way to an early morning meeting in Chicago when her husband, a firefighter, called. “He told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Towers,” she recalls. “I started asking him questions.”

Suddenly her husband said, "There is another plane … oh no! It just hit the other tower!" When her husband told Quinn it could have been a United plane, she hung up and called the crew desk supervisor at United. "Little did I know," recalls

Quinn, “that I would be the person who informed United that a second plane, possibly ours, had hit the south tower in Manhattan.”

During the next four days, Quinn worked the phones at United, connecting flight attendants with families and handling press. “I would arrive in the office at 8 a.m. and force myself to leave around 11 p.m.," says Quinn. She recalls conversations with hysterical family members who believed their relatives were in danger. "I had trained as a critical care nurse, so handling stress was nothing new for me," says Quinn, who received her Master of Arts in Adult Education in 2004.

Yet the event turned personally tragic for Quinn when she received the list of the crew members onboard United flights 175 and 93, (the latter had crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.) I knew the captain on Flight 175 as well as several flight attendants. But on Flight 93, Quinn lost a real friend. "Wanda Green, who was a flight attendant, was a very good friend. We had flown together, out of Chicago, for years. She was a bright, funny, super woman, and to lose her was just devastating."

Later, Quinn was grateful to learn about the heroic behavior of Flight 93′s crew, including a flight attendant who snuck to the back of the airplane and sat between rows of seats with her cell phone, talking to dispatch to tell them what was happening. "I’ll never forget the heroes of that flight," says Quinn.

The Security Issue
FEATURE | 9/11 remembered

In the years that followed

While being jolted out of a sense of security or losing a friend is truly devastating, others were affected by 9/11 because it was the day they recall feeling a "call to duty." Air Force Major Matthew Butler, who received his Master in Information Systems with a Concentration in Management in 2004, was boarding a plane in the United Kingdom to return to his base in Italy, when he saw an image on the airplane TV of the Pentagon smoking. "A million things are racing through your mind," recalls Butler, "You feel infringed upon—your security and your freedom."

Prior to 9/11, Butler had been planning to return to civilian life in several months time. He had given the Air Force four years of service after being enrolled in an ROTC program. But after 9/11, his career took a dramatic turn. "I felt like I had been given all this specialized training and I didn’t want to let it go to waste," Butler recalls. "It’s hard to explain, but I just wanted to be part of the mission to protect the United States and make sure something like this never happened again."

After 9/11 Butler trained to become an "air battle manager," in missions over Afghanistan and Iraq. Clocking more than 1,000 combat hours, Butler put his life in danger over the next several years, flying on the highly sophisticated aircraft "JSTARS." "I was in charge of the operations that went on in back of aircraft," he explains. The missions, typically 16 hours long, included surveying the ground for military activity and movement, and feeding information to ground forces. "We were an eye in the sky to all the troops on the ground."

As a result, Butler says, "I missed Christmases, birthdays and weddings of friends and family." The hardest separation occurred when his single mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I had to keep flying during her radiation and chemotherapy because there weren’t enough people to fly the missions," recalls Butler. Although his mother has now fully recovered, Butler says, "That was extremely difficult."

Now engaged and studying cyber warfare in the Air Force, Butler has no regrets. He was especially grateful for the news of Bin Laden’s demise. "Bin Laden’s death after all these years was very motivating for us," says Butler. "It’s a show of force for anyone that would want to be an enemy of the United States."

Does Butler think we’re safer today? “That’s a tough question,” he says, “You can better prepare yourself for the problems that are out there, if you know the enemy is out there. We know the enemy better today than we did on 9/11.”

For her part, Quinn believes the airlines have also changed for the better. “The communication between pilots and crew couldn’t be better,” she says. But Quinn still struggles with the tragedy. “This anniversary is one of the hardest,” she says. “Every 9/11, I go down to a memorial at the United Airlines headquarters and leave flowers. It’s just a little garden with a pretty maple tree, a plaque and some benches. It’s kind of a peaceful place and I hope the victims are at peace. Even though I’ll never understand it and never be able to totally forgive it, I hope that [the families and friends of the victims] find some peace, somehow.”

Jenny Jedeikin lives in Northern California and her writing has appeared in San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Rolling Stone and In Style, among other publications.

Memorial wall overlooking New York City: A hand touches the names of 9/11 victims.

The Security Issue
9/11 Remembered

Comments

My heart goes out to all 9/11 victims & their families. I too have lost someone, a dear friend of 11 years on that terrible day. The only thing more severe than what transpired is the fact that our own government deliberately covered up, or worse, was directly involved in the event itself. This is a belief that is shared by at least 1/3 of the public, (and around half of all New Yorkers) but is vehemently denied by the mainstream media as well as many uninformed citizens. I refuse to believe that primitive cave-dwellers halfway around the world were able to knock down two skyscrapers and penetrate the most heavily defended building in the world in one fell swoop. Don’t get me wrong, our leaders can be incompetent but if they were THAT incapable of keeping us safe, then I am truly appalled and far from “proud to be an American”.
It’s been 10 years later and we are NOT safer. Just think of what has taken place since 9/11: prolonged and costly wars on multiple fronts-all part of a fictional “War on Terror” that is said to continue for the next 100 years, the PATRIOT ACT which has created a domestic security police-state that spies on its own citizens, the end of Habeus Corpus & Posse Comitatus, and the overall downgrade of the USA’s reputation in the eyes of the global community, just to name a few. Something isn’t right, anyone who accepts the “official” story of 9/11 at face value, without doing their own research, needs to have their head examined. You owe it to yourself and your family to learn the facts.
Here are just a few reasons why we need a new, independent investigation of 9/11, one that is NOT conducted by there very same people who seem to be covering it up:
-THREE buildings fell in NY on 9/11, the Twin Towers & WTC Building 7, which was NOT hit by a plane and received minable damage that any similar structure could sustain.
-Before 9/11, no large steel-framed building had collapsed from a fire, ever. On 9/11, three of them did. The 32 story Windsor Tower in Spain burned for 24 hours in 2005, yet its steel frame didn’t collapse.
-Many 1st responders, media, WTC employees, and other eyewitnesses reported bombs going off throughout the buildings before they fell. Some explosions were heard before the planes even hit. Scientists have pointed out that the government has no explanation for the molten steel that was present for 3 weeks after 9/11 and Niels Harrit, a professor of nano-chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, reported finding high-grade nano-thermite in the dust from the buildings.
-The 9/11 Commission doesn’t even mention WTC 7. Phillip Zelikow wrote the “official” 9/11 Commission’s outline before the Commission was even formed. President Bush refused to release “classified” info to aid the investigation and even refused to speak under oath while meeting with the Commission. The head of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean, even stated that the Commission was set up to fail. Its membership consisted of former politicians. No knowledgeable experts were appointed.
-NORAD, the agency that’s supposed to protect our skies, was ordered to stand down by Vice President Dick Cheney. Norman Mineta, former Congressman and Secretary of Transportation, was down in a bunker with Cheney on 9/11. He testified to this but it was not included in the Commission Report either. NORAD also “just happened” to be conducting military drills on 9/11, something that reportedly interfered with intercepting the hijacked planes. The commission’s Senior counsel, John Farmer, Jr., wrote that the government made “a decision not to tell the truth about what happened,” and that the NORAD “tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public.”
-Over 1,500 professional architects and engineers demand a new 9/11 investigation. They all unanimously agree that the “official story” doesn’t hold weight scientifically and their numbers are growing. Similar groups who demand a real investigation are popping up all over. These include: Firefighters for 9/11 Truth, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Veterans for 9/11 Truth & various groups of 9/11 families. Around 70% of the victim’s families questions have not been answered.
To top it off, the 1ST RESPONDERS-those who gave their all to help the victims of 9/11, many of whom are still sick and injured from it today and aren’t receiving the benefits they deserve-are not being included in the 10 year 9/11 ceremony. Many of these firemen, medics, police, and servicemen share the same belief: that we’re NOT being told the truth about 9/11. Real Americans keep their government in check and not the other way around. Real Americans aren’t afraid to question their government, the same government that has failed them again and again and continues to do so. The truth is, I really don’t know what happened on 9/11.
I just know that it isn’t what they told us it was.

(2)wrote that the government made “a decision not to tell the truth about what happened,” and that the NORAD “tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public.”
-Over 1,500 professional architects and engineers demand a new 9/11 investigation. They all unanimously agree that the “official story” doesn’t hold weight scientifically and their numbers are growing. Similar groups who demand a real investigation are popping up all over. These include: Firefighters for 9/11 Truth, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Veterans for 9/11 Truth & various groups of 9/11 families. Around 70% of the victim’s families questions have not been answered.
To top it off, the 1ST RESPONDERS-those who gave their all to help the victims of 9/11, many of whom are still sick and injured from it today and aren’t receiving the benefits they deserve-are not being included in the 10 year 9/11 ceremony. Many of these firemen, medics, police, and servicemen share the same belief: that we’re NOT being told the truth about 9/11. Real Americans keep their government in check and not the other way around. Real Americans aren’t afraid to question their government, the same government that has failed them again and again and continues to do so. The truth is, I really don’t know what happened on 9/11.
I just know that it isn’t what they told us it was.

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PHOENIX FOCUS | September 2011 | The Security Issue

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Are we safer 10 years after 9/11?

9/11 remembered: Three alumni share
their stories

On the cover: Journey to police chief
Sherry Kiyler, BAM ’92

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