Marine Corps Camp Lejeune Memorializes Patriot Day
Patriot Day, a National Day of Service and Remembrance, pays tribute to the Americans who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. On this day across the U.S., flags are lowered to half-mast at 8:46 a.m. and a moment of silence is held to pause and honor the memory of those who lost their lives.
This year marks the 19th anniversary of a day that resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths and over 25,000 injuries to citizens and public servants who responded. Nearly two decades have passed since the terrorist attacks and each year the nation comes together to remember the fallen.
Marines across Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune will forever be impacted by the events of September 11, 2001.
For U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Brenden D. McDaniel, commanding officer, Bravo Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion (H&S Bn), Marine Corps Installations-East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, he was a freshman at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. On September 11, 2001, while passing by his neighbor’s dorm room, he overheard the news on the TV.
“I was 19 years old and had no idea how much of an impact this would have on my life,” said McDaniel. “I had no plans to join the military, but my father, who was active duty Air Force at the time, saw multiple overseas deployments during this time.”
After graduating college, McDaniel enlisted and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Later he commissioned as an officer and deployed to Afghanistan with Georgia Liaison Team Rotation 7. While deployed he noticed a poster of the Twin Towers with a slogan that said, “We Will Never Forget”, and he has continued to remember the importance of that significant day. McDaniel has since worked at the Marine Corps Installations-East G-6, and has now taken command of his first company.
“That event emphasized the importance of training for combat while in garrison as we will never know when a strike on our country will happen and we will need to be called on,” said McDaniel. “With everything being so divided these days, we need the whole world to come together to reflect on Patriot Day so that we will never forget.”
The significance of the events of September 11, 2001 has impacted even those who were not old enough to understand the importance.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jack Combs, an administration clerk with H&S Bn, MCIEAST-MCB Camp Lejeune, was just three years old at the time of the attacks and was in his mother’s bed when he was awoken by her calling to him.
“The memory is a blur, but I woke up to my mother telling me to come downstairs and seeing one of the towers hit,” said Combs. “My mother’s reaction is something I’ll never forget.”
Combs credits this event as being his inspiration for enlisting in the Marine Corps.
“Today I am a corporal, working with three great Marines, and soon volunteering for an upcoming deployment,” Combs said.
U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Esperanza Fuentes, company 1st Sgt, Bravo Company, H&S Bn, MCIEAST-MCB Camp Lejeune, was a Lance Cpl. on September 11, 2001. That day she recalls preparing for work like any other day.
“I remember watching the news and thinking it’s pretty early for a movie to be playing,” said Fuentes. “I didn’t know what was really going on until the next plane hit the tower.”
After a long wait and a thorough security check through the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton gate, Fuentes arrived at work to find her colleagues watching the news. According to Fuentes, the first thing that came to all their minds was, “Are we deploying?” This event impacted not only her career, but everyone’s career in the Marine Corps at that time.
“One of the many things that’s led to where I am now and has driven my passion was being able to deploy,” said Fuentes. “It made all of us more grateful for being Marines and Americans. Many service members sacrificed during this time for our country and our freedoms, and I’m grateful for all of them.”
Throughout the nation, many have found ways to memorialize this impactful day.