20 Years Since 9/11
This month marks 20 years since al Qaeda terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and attempted to attack the U.S. Capitol. The world changed instantly when terrorists turned airliners into weapons of mass destruction. I was stationed at U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor as executive assistant to Fleet Commander Admiral Tom Fargo. Then- Captain Doug Crowder called me from the Vice Chief’s office in the Pentagon just before 0300 Hawaii time and gave me a heads up that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I called ADM Fargo and requested he turn on his TV. While we were talking, the second plane hit the south tower. The immediate action was to recall the staff and set higher readiness and force protection conditions. Subsequent actions were to support planning for the national response against al Qaeda who were permitted to operate from Afghanistan by the Taliban-led Afghan government.
With no U.S. land or air bases proximate to Afghanistan, the tactical aviation contribution was immediately provided by the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in the North Arabian Sea. The Naval Air Station in Diego Garcia became the host for a provisional U.S. Air Force bomber wing. In October, Army Special Forces and Rangers launched from the deck of the Japan-based aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in the North Arabian Sea. Army helicopters flew first into interim staging bases in Pakistan, then into Afghanistan—more than 400 miles from the sea. These were the beginning stages of a sacrifice of national blood and treasure that would last 20 years. We have now come full circle, with a chaotic withdrawal—done without looking out for those who looked out for us—and the return of a Taliban-led Afghan government.
Grand Opening Of The Jack C. Taylor Conference Center
On 30 September, we will proudly cut the ribbon on the Jack C. Taylor Conference Center! Over the past several months we have been working through the final “punch list” items and putting the polishing touches on this game-changing facility that will serve as the Naval Institute’s “home field” and enhance our power to convene on important topics. We cannot wait to show it off to you, our members!
Naval Institute Press Books
In keeping with this month’s theme of remembering naval aviation’s contributions to the Vietnam air campaign, the Naval Institute Press recently acquired the rights to publish Porter Halyburton’s memoir, Reflections on Captivity. Flying off the USS Independence (CV-62), Halyburton was shot down over North Vietnam on 17 October 1965. He spent the next seven-plus years as a prisoner of war (POW) in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” His memoir will be published in 2023, the 50th anniversary of the release of American POWs by the North Vietnamese.
As this issue goes to press, the Tailhook Association is planning to host its annual symposium live in Reno, Nevada, and we plan to have a booth (as we did in 2019) to sign up members and conduct Proceedings Podcast interviews. The rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is casting doubt over the convention, however, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for ’Hook21 to go according to plan. Whether you attend in person or virtually, you can take advantage of a special $10 discount on Naval Institute membership this month. The offer is good for gift memberships as well; so, if you have a student naval aviator in your family, give his or her career a professional boost with a gift membership in the Institute. Go to www.usni.org/join and use the code HOOK10 at checkout. Fly Navy!