9-11-2001 by Eric Keller

Today is 9-11-2017.   Sixteen years ago with a whole generation coming of age who were small children then.  Yet, the terror attacks impact all of our lives to this day.  Some changes we made were good- some were less so.  Understandable when one thinks about the Twin Towers and Pentagon being attacked by hijacked airplane missiles.  The question many people ask each other on this day goes like this; "Where were you on 9-11?"

I was teaching at the United States Army Chaplain Center and School.  On that day, I was instructing my small group of students on battlefield tactics for chaplains.  We stopped for the day as the events unfolded.  Immediately, the class of young chaplain captains knew they were going to war.  The next day, classes took on a new meaning.  They had a new intensity and worked feverishly to understand the complexity of modern war.  The "9-11" class, as they called themselves, graduated and went on to their new units.  Then every single one of them went to war.  All were changed.  Several had very close brushes with death in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sadly, one died.  He was a Roman Catholic chaplain who, in Iraq in 2004, was moving from one location to another to minister to troops.  An Improvised Explosive Device blew under his vehicle which critically wounded him.  The wounds he received that day killed him in 2009.  Chaplain (Captain) Tim Vokoc was moving on the battlefield, just as I taught him in that class on 9-11, when the IED detonated.

 Chaplain Tim Vakoc

Chaplain Tim Vakoc

The 9-11 class and their instructor lives all changed from the moment the planes hit.  Today I remember all of the 9-11 class, to include a gentle priest who sat in my classroom that day, as a small sample of all those Soldiers who went to war and are still at war.  Please, do not forget them.

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