9/11 stories - Where were you?

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic
FILE - This Sept. 11, 2001 file photo shows smoke rising from the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center after hijacked planes crashed into the towers, in New York City. The U.S. government is aware of no credible or specific information that points to any terror plot tied to the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, according to a new confidential threat assessment from the FBI and Homeland Security Department obtained by The Associated Press.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) ORG XMIT: WX103

Kerry Loncka, Henry County Sheriff - I was in my office working as a Detective/Lieutenant at the Henry County Sheriff’s Office. I was going through the daily reports at my desk. I received a phone call from Capt. Steve Dooley, informing me that a plane had flew into World Trade towers in NYC. I went upstairs to Capt. Dooley’s Office and started to watch the live footage on tv, along with others. At the time, we thought that this was just a terrible accident. The second plane hit the towers and we knew our country was under attack. We then heard that a bomb had exploded at the pentagon (which later was determined to be hit by plane). Sheriff Gib Cady sent our patrol division to the Kewanee and Geneseo airports to enforce the no fly order issued by the President. I will always remember how depressed I was, hearing of the nearly 3,000 people that died that day. Many of them police and firemen. I will never forget.

Sean Johnson, Geneseo Mayor -  I was at work, working my side job doing truck maintenance in a truck repair shop.  One of our drivers stopped and said “something is going on, planes are flying into buildings in NY”.  We turned on the radio and did our best like all Americans were doing to process the information that was available not knowing what the world would look like forever going forward.  My full time job at the time was as a police officer.  When I went to work that afternoon little did we know we were in for some long days as the world tried to deal with these unknown times.

Jim Kelly, Henry County Economic Development  - I was serving in the United States Navy, on recruiting duty here in Geneseo.  My Commanding Officer was flying from Omaha to DC for meetings, he was diverted to Chicago.  Nothing was said from the pilot, just "Welcome to Chicago." When he deplaned, all the monitors were replaying the tower’s collapsing. He thought it was a movie.  He tried to get a rent a car, but couldn’t, so he called me and we set up government vehicles to shuttle him back to Omaha in relays from different offices along I 80.  I got to drive a leg from Geneseo to Des Moines, there were American flags hanging on every overpass.  The gas prices had jumped to over $5 per gallon.  It was a very somber drive as we pondered who did this and, as military personnel, what was going to be our roles in the near future.  We knew we would be engaged in the war on terror immediately.  Before I left on my part of the drive, I had my three children come outside to pause and look to the skyline and to notice no planes flying.  It was very eerie, but then 1 large plane went over at a lower altitude surrounded by numerous smaller planes, my son said "What is that Dad?" I explained that was our President on his way to Omaha to go underground until we had definitive answers on the attack.  

Tyler Glaser - Banker and Concert Organizer - I was at school at Monmouth College, playing a few games of pool before going to classes,  when the coverage of the planes hitting the towers came on the TV, it was surreal. 

Cathy Runty - Henry Co. States Attorney -I was waiting to start my freshman year of college; The Ohio State University’s trimester schedule meant we started in late September.  So, I was home, watching re-runs of ER on cable.  The news bulletin broke into the program, showing the first plane hit the first tower.  I switched over to the local NBC station, to watch the anchors live.  I remember vividly that I was watching the screen as the second plane hit the second tower; I thought to myself-“why on earth are they replaying that already?” Then I realized that both towers had been hit.  I stood in my parents’ living room and watched for hours, seeing both towers fall live.  I watched more that night and the following days as the search and rescue effort continued.  My father was a volunteer firefighter for many years, and although he had retired by that time, I was, and still am, overwhelmed when I think of the brave men and women who died in the line of duty that day and in the days and years to come.  

John Taylor - Cambridge - I was at Monmouth College in a psychology class when news of the attack came out. Instead of having class the instructor turned on the television in the classroom and we watched the news. At the time, I was in the National Guard and remember wondering if I would be deployed to help with cleanup efforts. Once I returned home and heard the president's reaction I knew that it was only a matter of time before we, as a country, would react. It took some time, but two years later I was activated to deploy to Iraq.