NPS students, faculty and staff joined Naval Support Activity Monterey personnel on the Quarterdeck of Herrmann Hall for a commemoration ceremony, Sept. 11, in remembrance of the largest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil.
Retired New York Police Department (NYPD) Lt. John Comiskey addressed the crowd, intimately describing the emotions he experienced and the memories he holds onto, honoring his colleagues who served on the front line at ground zero.
“I, like many of us here, remember where I was on 9/11, I was at ground zero,” said Comiskey, currently a student at NPS’ Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). “I was with my brothers from the NYC fire department, the port authority police department, the national guard, and many others.
“I remember that we successfully evacuated 25,000 people, probably one of the most arduous and stressful rescue operations in the history of public safety,” he continued. “I remember that 23 of my brothers in the squad would not return home, 343 New York city fire officers would not return home, 37 port authority police officers would not return home. I remember ground zero, in the middle of operations, being told that the Pentagon had been struck.”
NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ronald A. Route was in the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001, and shared his own vivid memories of his experience that day.
“What was striking to me was, as we were leaving the building, first responders had already set up on the lawn to start taking care of these people,” said Route. “These were not people in uniform, they were first responders from Arlington and Alexandria, people that are represented in the audience here today.”
Route said that within the chaos that followed, heroes were stepping forward putting to use their shipboard training ... From fighting fires to helping transfer injured to awaiting first responders outside.
“I learned a new respect for my civilian colleagues,” Route said. “Those of us in uniform signed up for whatever comes our way ... The civilians in the Pentagon didn’t sign up for that, but they were on the front line that day, and it brought home that the world had forever changed.”
In concluding his remarks, Comiskey offered praise to NPS and CHDS for the institution’s role in advancing national and homeland security.
“In the end, we learn how to do things right and how to operate better,” said Comiskey. “I thank everyone here, and for NPS, for doing these great things, and I ask that everyone keeps our colleague who are in harm’s way in our thoughts and prayers.”