I was working. That is to say, I was a Petty Officer Second Class in the U.S. Navy, stationed at AIMD NASNI, just off the coast of San Diego. I was walking down the hall and heard somebody saying something about a plane flying into the 1st tower. I thought to myself:
“What’s the World Trade Center?”
Okay, so I had a bit less of a clue about some things then than I do now, cut me some slack.
I got into the shop and the radio was all about it. Then the second plane went in and I said “we’re under attack”. Then the first tower fell and the correspondent was telling the anchor about it. The anchor was like ‘you mean, the top of the building fell’, and the correspondent was like ‘no, the whole thing just fell straight down.’ and I couldn’t quite parse what was happening, and neither could anyone else. We kept working and kept listening to the radio. Went home at the end of my shift.
The news was full of the images that would make the Republicans stay in power for a generation, so they don’t show them anymore. I recorded it on a VHS tape. Including the first attack on Afghanistan. As it was getting closer to nightfall in Chula Vista, it was pitch black in (?) Kandahar, and there were missiles inbound.
The next few days had folks talking about Hussein probably being involved, until we heard about OBL claiming responsibility. I also remember hearing about the airplane in the Iraqi desert that the AQI types were using for training, and we knew about it. That story got spiked HARD.
I went to work early the next day. 3 hours early. And I was stuck in traffic about 2 blocks from the base gate. They were taking 15 minutes per car, to let anybody get through security. Mirrors, dogs, open your trunk and stand by, etc. I would turn off my truck’s engine and sit there for a few minutes, start, advance one spot, and shut off again. Got out and talked with the guy in traffic behind me for a while. 7 hours later, I got on base. They said if I’d called they would have sent me home if I could get out of traffic, but I was (and remain) cell phone-free, so I waited. I gave a few people a ride in my truck to get off base. By a few, I mean one in every seat and one riding in the cargo area, laying on the floor so the MPs wouldn’t stop us for having someone back there with no seatbelt (or seat). Traffic got progressively better over the next few days but it never got back to as fast as it was, getting on base, for the duration of my enlistment.
Oh yeah, and my wife recorded over the video a couple of years later by accident. Doh.