San Antonio, Texas - Navy Medicine Training Support Center’s (NMTSC) 1st class petty officers held a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony at the San Antonio Fire Department Fire Station Number Four located on Joint Base San Antonio-Ft. Sam Houston (JBSA-FSH), September 11.
The ceremony honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, including 343 firefighters, 71 police officers and 55 military service members, as well as those who survived the attacks and those who continue to mourn.
“Seventeen years ago, I remember where I was and what I was doing the moment I heard planes crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center,” said Capt. Maryann Mattonen, NMTSC’s commanding officer. “It wasn’t long before I realized that our people, our country and our way of life were going to be changed forever. Today, we remember the lives lost on that terrible, dark day.”
Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Christopher Graham, NMTSC’s acting command master chief, said, “All across the country today, we’re remembering the sacrifices of innocent lives that were taken from us – more than 3,000 casualties. But in the midst of all the chaos, there were firemen, police officers, civilians who ran into an inferno blaze to sacrifice everything they had to save lives. No act of terror could ever match the strength and character of the United States of America.”
NMTSC 1st class petty officers who have been selected for promotion to chief petty officer, presented a timeline of events from 9/11, beginning with the American Airlines flight from Boston crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Following the presentation, one Sailor shared his personal memory of the day.
“During that time, I was a 19-year-old E-3 stationed in Washington, D.C., with the ceremonial guard,” said Master-At-Arms 1st Class Michaellee Mallare, a Sailor assigned to the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) San Antonio. “During that morning, on 9/11, myself and a group of guardsmen were in the cafeteria, across the street from the Pentagon, prepping for a ceremony later on that morning. During that time, we didn’t have smart phones or social media, and news didn’t travel as fast as today.”
Mallare described the moment the aircraft hit the Pentagon.
“As we sat there waiting, we heard a loud ‘BOOM,’ and the room began to shake,” he said. “It wasn’t until my chain-of-command began yelling at us to hurry onto the bus that I paid it any real attention. When we arrived back on base, those of us in Security immediately went to our watch stations. We were on watch for a few days until we were relieved for a briefing.”
Mallare then described how 9/11 became personal.
“Before the brief, all I knew was that there was a fire at the Pentagon and that there was smoke that I could smell,” he said. “It was in the briefing that we were told about the events that occurred in Pennsylvania, New York City and Washington, D.C. It was also in this brief that we were told that one of our own was unaccounted for.”
Mallare spoke briefly about Electronics Technician 2nd Class Brian Moss, a mentor he lost to the 9/11 attacks. Moss was stationed at the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard, primarily assigned to train junior guardsmen. He performed in many ceremonies, including the 54th Presidential Inauguration. He was later transferred to work at the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) office at the Pentagon. Moss took the fall 2001 Navy-wide advancement exam one week prior to the attack on the Pentagon. He was laid to rest as Electronics Technician 1st Class Brian Moss.
“He was my leading petty officer,” said Mallare. “Petty Officer Moss recruited me from boot camp and convinced me to join the ceremonial guard. During the training, he mentored me and guided me.”
Mallare said Moss did the same for the other ceremonial guardsmen, caring for them like they were his own brothers and sisters.
“He had high standards,” Mallare said. “He let us know what the expectations were, and he held us accountable for them. Petty Officer Moss was taken from us at a very early age, but 17 years later, his standards and expectations still live on today through me and every other guardsman.”
Mallare and the presentation was followed by members of the 4th Marine Reconnaissance Battalion rendering military honors outside of the fire station. The formal military honors concluded when “Taps” was played.
The ceremony continued with remarks from Mark Ledford, the JBSA Fire Department chief.
“These events bring back some really tragic memories for a lot of us from 17 years ago,” said Ledford. “Each year we do this, it gets better. Each year we do this, I try to learn something new. I hope we never forget. I hope this event continues for another 17; for another 34; for another 70 years. I hope we never ever forget what took place on 9/11. It makes us stronger. It gives us a huge amount of motivation to keep doing what we’re doing.”
The ceremony concluded with a gift presentation to Ledford from NMTSC’s CPO mess and the benediction led by the command chaplain.