At sea, USS Arlington remembers September 11

By Lt. j.g. Laura Price, USS Arlington Public Affairs Navy Media Content Services

USS Arlington's (LPD 24) color guard bows their heads as the names are read of the 184 victims who perished in the crash at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Arlington held a 9/11 remembrance ceremony held in the Main Vehicle Stowage area while the ship operates in the Virginia Capes Operating Area. (U.S. Navy photo by Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Brian Usler)

USS Arlington’s (LPD 24) color guard bows their heads as the names are read of the 184 victims who perished in the crash at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Arlington held a 9/11 remembrance ceremony held in the Main Vehicle Stowage area while the ship operates in the Virginia Capes Operating Area. (U.S. Navy photo by Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Brian Usler)

ATLANTIC OCEAN – USS Arlington (LPD 24) Sailors and Marines held a remembrance ceremony honoring the 13th anniversary of September 11 while underway off the Atlantic Coast.

The morning of September 11, 2001, five hijackers on American Airlines Flight 77 forcibly commandeered the controls of the plane and, at 9:37 a.m., crashed into the west wall of the Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia.

This deliberate attack was the second of three that occurred, the first at the World Trade Center in New York and the third in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

USS Arlington was named in remembrance of the attack on the Pentagon.

The ship’s commemorative ceremony began at 8:47 a.m. with an announcement denoting the time of the first strike on the World Trade Center in New York City. The event was organized and executed by the ship’s nine chief petty officer selectees.

“The Arlington’s chief selectees feel privileged and honored to be able to host this year’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony,” explained Chief Petty Officer (select) Travis McCarthy. “All nine of us are Plank Owners and have been with Arlington since early pre-commissioning; we feel a deep commitment to the ship and her namesake and really wanted to provide the crew with something memorable. Being able to honor the lives lost on September 11, 2001, has been a humbling experience and one that none of us could be more proud of.”

The hand-carried boxes (vessels) that Arlington’s chief petty officer selectees carry with them throughout CPO 365 Phase II bear the names of the 184 people who perished in the attack on the Pentagon. The vessels, when adjoined, create the emblem of the Pentagon.

“9/11 is a day in history that I will never forget,” Chief Petty Officer (select) Bruce White explained. “I will never forget the feeling of emptiness and selflessness for the victims and heroes of that great day. I recently had the opportunity to visit Arlington Cemetery and the Pentagon Memorial. It was a humbling experience to pay my respects for the fallen. I am truly honored to be a part of this ceremony on one of the three warships named in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks.”

Events of the ceremony included performances of the national anthem and the command’s Color Guard. White and Chief Petty Officer (select) Grace Britos shared their experiences as junior Sailors in the Navy at the time of the terrorist attacks and how those events molded the beginning of their careers in naval service.

“It’s unfortunate that 9/11 happened, nonetheless I am fortunate to be able to represent the 184 lives that have fallen,” said Britos. “A major change that I have witnessed is the additional security measures each base has encountered. Standing watch may be tedious at times, but let us challenge ourselves to never forget why our presence is of importance.”

At 9:37 a.m., the time Flight 77 struck the Pentagon, the names of the fallen were read as a bell was rung for each of the 184 fallen from youngest to oldest, just as they appear at the Pentagon Memorial in Washington.

Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Emily Bassett addressed the crew, explaining the significance of the events and America’s response to the tragedy.

“Today is a somber day of reflection and a day to remember those horrific and unprovoked attacks on American soil,” said Bassett. “This is a day to reaffirm our vows to ourselves and our nation. This has become a day of action, to consider not ‘what if’ or even ‘why,’ but ‘what now?’ 9/11 has become a day of resolution and of rekindling the reasons for why we do what we do. Arlington was named as part of a triumvirate dedicated to spirit of action and resolve. We on Arlington take today to think about the spirit of the ship and how as a crew we are upholding the spirit of our namesake.”

The ceremony concluded with a moment of silence for the final attack and a reception on the mess decks. The crew then dispersed to resume normal underway operations in support of their daily missions.

“American service members hold September 11 as a day of reflection,” said Command Master Chief Brian McDonough. “Those who were on active or reserve duty in 2001 automatically remember exactly where and what they were doing on September 11. Many Americans who were not in the military on that tragic day, soon joined out of sheer patriotism, and many of our newest service members continue to join based on a loyalty born from the carnage of September 11. I am very honored to serve aboard USS Arlington with my shipmates, as we continue to protect our nation, every day. I am also honored to witness this ceremony as planned and executed by our newest enlisted leaders.”

USS Arlington (LPD 24) is the eighth in Navy’s San Antonio class of ships, designed to be the most survivable amphibious vessels ever put to sea. The third in the U.S. fleet to bear the name, USS Arlington combines 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future Marine Corps aircraft and landing craft. It is capable of taking nearly 1,200 Sailors and Marines to act on behalf of the nation.

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