September 11: A Crew Remembers
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Candice Villarreal, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs
The shock of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 is a feeling that many USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Sailors have not forgotten. When those tragic attacks on American soil occurred on that fateful day, a wave of emotion swept the country.
"I was in school in Alaska, and our principal came in and announced what had happened in New York," said Storekeeper Seaman Harlin Esmailka. "I was shocked, but I also felt more patriotic than ever. When I enlisted in the Navy, that day was in the back of my mind."
The shock Esmailka felt was not uncommon. After the attacks, a wave of new enlistments into the U.S. Armed Forces and displays of patriotic sentiments showed the world that Americans would unite as a people during tragedy.
"I knew when the attacks happened that I would serve one day," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Patrick Cademas. "I didn't understand how something like that could happen, but I wanted to help make things right again."
Chief Storekeeper (SW/AW) Lito Sandan, attached to Destroyer Squadron 15 in Japan at the time of the attacks, said he had similar thoughts.
"I was packing for leave and my wife called and told me to turn on the news," said Sandan. "I saw on television what had happened. When I saw the second plane hit the tower, I was devastated, and my wife just started praying."
Due to the attacks, Sandan was recalled from his leave status to embark on an emergency deployment to the Persian Gulf with USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).
"I was angry and sad at the same time," said Sandan. "I just thought that this had to be stopped; it shouldn't have happened to us. I knew we had to find the people responsible. There had to be some kind of justice for all those who died."
On Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the attacks on U.S soil, Carl Vinson was dispatched to the North Arabian Sea and launched the first airstrikes in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After 72 days at sea, Carl Vinson Sailors and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 personnel launched more than 4,000 sorties in support of combat operations in Afghanistan.
Now, on this seventh anniversary of the attacks on New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the deaths of passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 who resisted and fought back the hijackers, crashed in Pennsylvania, Carl Vinson Sailors are still serving with pride and patriotism.
By preparing Carl Vinson to rejoin the fleet in support of the Navy's Maritime Strategy, "Gold Eagle" Sailors are working to fulfill the mission of protecting the nation and honoring those who died on Sept. 11 2001.
Carl Vinson is undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH, Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.