Naval War College Honors Victims of 9/11 Attacks

Newport, Rhode Island - U.S. Naval War College (NWC) hosted a remembrance ceremony commemorating the 17th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The event took place in the college’s Spruance Auditorium and honored those who gave their lives in the attacks. The event also paid special tribute to three NWC students and eight alumni who were killed.

Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, NWC’s president, gave remarks at the ceremony and noted that the events on Sept. 11 once again impressed on us that life is a precious gift.

“Seventeen years ago today, our country and its citizens were forever changed,” said Harley. “Just as the attack on Pearl Harbor 60 years earlier changed the course of the country, so too the events of Sept. 11, 2001 changed our country and ourselves.”

John E. Jackson, a professor in NWC’s College of Distance Education was the master of ceremonies for the event.

“Today marks the 17th anniversary of the cowardly attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the grassy field in Pennsylvania,” said Jackson. “Much has happened to the world since this fateful day, and it is highly appropriate that we pay our respects to these patriots and the others who have perished in this long fight.”

During the ceremony, Jackson gave brief remembrances of each honoree and members of the Newport-area chief petty officer selectees rung the bell. They also formed an honor guard for a wreath-laying at the memorial, accompanied by Taps played by a musician from Navy Band Northeast.

The 11 lost members of the NWC community honored at the ceremony were Capt. Gerald DeConto, a 1998 graduate of NWC; Lt. Cmdr. Robert Elseth, who went through NWC’s Fleet Seminar Program; Capt. Lawrence Getzfred, who graduated in 1990; Angela Houtz, who had just begun her Fleet Seminar Program course; Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Murphy, who studied at NWC’s Fleet Seminar Program; Lt. Jonas Panik, who was studying at the college’s Fleet Seminar; retired Capt. Jack Punches, a 1985 graduate; Cmdr. Robert Schlegel, also from the Fleet Seminar Program; Cmdr. Dan Shanower, a Fleet Seminar student; Army Lt. Col. Kip Taylor, a 1998 graduate; and retired Capt. John Yamnicky Sr., a 1967 graduate.

Relatives of DeCanto attended the event.

“As in many years past, the DeCanto family is here with us today to remember a life cut short too early to insidious terrorism,” said Harley. “We are honored to have you here today. The DeCanto family’s presence ties all of us to the personal and emotional aspects of this event.”

Harley went on to say that more than 5 million men and women have joined the military since the attacks on that fateful day.

“If you wonder how best to preserve the legacy of those we lost that day, look no further than the next generation,” added Harley.

Patriots Memorial, located on the NWC campus, is made from a section of limestone removed from the damaged portion of the Pentagon. The names of the 11 fallen are inscribed on the memorial, which was dedicated in September 2002.