By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Yarborough, Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs
The crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) momentarily paused operations to hold an observance ceremony on the ship’s flight deck in remembrance of Sept. 11.
The ceremony, officiated by Arleigh Burke’s senior leadership in conjunction with the Sailors selected for chief petty officer, was a moment for the crew to reflect on the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93.
“Today and every day, we make our actions with purpose for those who cannot; we make haste while the sun shines so that another 9/11 will never, ever happen again,” said Cmdr. Errol Robinson, commanding officer of Arleigh Burke.
During the ceremony, Sailors gave speeches honoring the service and sacrifice of Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Kevin Yokum, Electronics Technician 1st Class Brian Moss, and Naval Intelligence Officer Lt. j.g. Darren Pontell, who lost their lives during the attacks.
“I’d just come off the midwatch, I was drowsy but within seconds I was fully aware of what was going on when we turned on the TV,” said Cmdr. John Gaines, executive officer of Arleigh Burke. “The first tower had already been hit. We watched as the second tower was hit, and the collapse of both towers that followed.”
“Most of us have only seen that in videos and on TV, but that morning is something that I will never forget. On that morning, our world as we know it changed dramatically,” said Gaines.
Gaines has a personal connection to the events of Sept. 11. Pontell and Gaines were friends at the U.S. Naval Academy as midshipmen.
“I found out a few days later that my good friend Darren Pontell, who turned me into a midshipman and later into an officer, was killed on Sept. 11 when Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon,” said Gaines.