This is the fourth blog post written by Rear Admiral Craig Faller, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Three, while on a seven-month deployment in the Pacific.
On the morning of 9-11-2001 I was in Command of USS STETHEM (DDG 63). Standing centerline on the ship’s bridge we were passing directly under the Coronado Bridge, San Diego Bay, heading outbound to sea. When I announced the tragic news to the ship my conning officer collapsed on the deck, unbeknownst to me his father worked in one of the towers. Thankfully his father was safe, but he would not know that for hours. For many others the wait ended painfully.
Today, I am underway Commanding 6,000 Sailors of the JOHN C. STENNIS Strike Group. Ten years later American’s are blessed to have such men and women serving their country, working hard, training to fulfill their dreams while knowing that they are making a difference. In just a few days our Strike Group, to include the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74), USS MOBILE BAY (CG 53) and embarked Airwing will be on station, joining the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Most of our Sailors joined after 9-11, average age today is 22 – and they can also tell you what they were doing and thinking on 9-11. Many will tell you they joined because of 9-11.
Later today we will conduct a memorial service at sea. We will shed tears and offer blessings for those that sacrificed that day and for the thousands who have since given their lives fighting for the freedom we enjoy as Americans. I will be fighting back tears too, especially as I look at the faces of America’s Navy standing in front of me in the ship’s hangar bay. Men and women – Sailors – who care, who do their best every day, who inspire awe in me for their sacrifice and service. Sailors who are ready, who have pushed themselves beyond anything they believed possible. Sailors who are the best at what they do operating the most technologically advanced airplanes and ships in the world’s #1 Navy.
Today in the shadow of remembrance all Americans should turn their gaze from the smoldering memories of 9-11-01 to the promise of 9-11-11. Those who stepped forward in the wake of that tragedy are our next great generation. I know it – I see them serving their country every day.