Navy Chaplain (Capt.) Rondall Brown serves as the command
chaplain for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) at Camp
Leatherneck, Afghanistan. In September 2001, the chaplain assisted
families through the carnage at ground zero in New York City. Brown
said it was important to him to be in Afghanistan on the 10th
anniversary of the attacks, working to eradicate violence in this
once terror-stricken region. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian
Adam Jones, Aug. 31, 2011
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Aug. 31, 2011 – Navy Chaplain (Capt.)
Rondall Brown's thick Blue Ridge Mountain drawl makes its presence
known here, as he describes his experiences in New York City a
decade ago with one word -- horror.
Brown, a 23-year Navy
veteran, said his introduction to horror came 10 years ago and
10,000 miles from here in New York City during the 9/11 terrorist
attacks. He was then a lieutenant commander serving as a chaplain
for a Coast Guard unit in New England.
Brown, who hails from
Haysville, N.C., spent several weeks in New York's ground zero area
immediately following the attacks helping devastated families
through the catastrophe.
Brown seemed to be able to recall
everyone he'd helped through the devastation in Manhattan.
remember one lady collapsing and just crying out, ‘Oh my God, my
baby! I will never see her again!'” Brown said.
The woman's husband, he added, had just “stood there, big
guy, clenched fists, with tears streaming down his face. He
never said a word.”
Brown spoke with long pauses as
he recalled the horrific events of that day.
“I apologize,” the
chaplain said, running his fingers through his short crop of
gray hair. “I'm not normally like this.”
serves here as the command chaplain for the 2nd Marine
Aircraft Wing (Forward).
Serving in Afghanistan
“brings a peace for me,” said Brown, his face flushed
crimson with emotion. “We are doing something to prevent it
from occurring again.
“If you had been there, and
have the vivid memories I do of the horror these families
went through, it's unimaginable,” he added. “There was
nothing to take home. There were no bodies.”
sense it seems much longer than 10 years ago, but in another
sense it feels just like yesterday,” Brown said. “I think
for the people who had loved ones die, it's a very vivid
Brown also recalled the awful smell and
heavy dust that pervaded the disaster zone at ground zero.
“They gave me a little mask to wear, but I never wore
it,” he said. “You can't talk to people and wear a mask.”
The chaplain said it was important to him to be in
Afghanistan on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. He said
it was important to work to eradicate violence in this once
“There's never a measurement
you can put on the loss of a life, civilian or military. But
should we be here? Yes, I think so,” Brown said. “People
here are beginning to take leadership. They're feeling
confident with support from the government, with support
from the American and coalition troops.
“When I was
in Iraq in al Anbar,” he continued, “the tide turned there
when the people said to the insurgency, ‘OK, we have had
enough of what you are doing to the innocent civilians.'”
By USMC Cpl. Brian Adam Jones
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
American Forces Press Service
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