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Communities honor the spirit of 9/11

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group
Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford stands next to a wreath at Fallon’s 9/11 Memorial.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Dahl

Different activities conducted in western Nevada

Sept. 11, 2001, was remembered as a special day in both U.S. history and of the sacrifice from first responders in New York City and at the Pentagon and from heroic passengers aboard Flight 93 that crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

Communities around the area remembered Friday in different ways, but the thoughts of the thousands killed when four hijacked passenger jets crashed was at the forefront of the remembrances.

In Fallon, Mayor Ken Tedford placed a rose and wreath at the city’s 9/11 Memorial, which is in the courtyard along with various monuments honoring military personnel killed in the nation’s wars. Throughout the day, residents stopped at the memorial, grabbed a rose and then placed it on top of the structure.

At Naval Air Station Fallon, sailors washed aircraft in the static display park as part of a Sailor 360 leadership program event to commemorate the events of Sept. 11. The Sailor 360 program, according to NAS Fallon, is the Navy’s newest leadership training program designed to enrich the professional development of its enlisted force and officer corps through physical fitness, leadership training, mentorship and group events.

A small Fernley ceremony was conducted inside the North Lyon County Fire District firehouse featured a number of speakers including Mayor Roy Edgington, Undersheriff Ed Kilgore, North Lyon County Fire Chief Jason Nicholl and guest speaker, George Malone, national commander of the Legion of Valor.

The Nevada Veterans Coalition’s Tom Draughon sung the National Anthem, and the honor guard fired the Volley of Three.

The Iron Nation Motorcycle Club met at Reno’s Powning Park on Saturday and conducted a small ceremony before having a ride to Carson City. The club also fundraises for Honor Flight Nevada, and it had a Facebook auction for a quilt.

For the past 19 years, Sept. 11, 2001, has become symbolic of the nation’s resolve to hold hands with one another to praise first responders and the military and other heroes who sacrificed their own lives to save others. At Carson City’s Mills Park, a smaller number of people attended a short observance this year because of attendance mandates placed on gatherings by the governor.

John and Renee Keithley formerly lived in Fallon but now reside in Carson City where they attended the service at Mills Park.

“I was at a friend’s house in the morning having coffee and watching TV, and we saw the planes hit,” he recalled. “It was wild.”

Keithley said they were impressed with the response in New York City and the nation. Renee said she was watching TV with her teenage daughter, who witnessed people dying.

 “It was a horrifying day,” Renee said. “It was a wake-up call for America.”

Timm Lawson graduated from Churchill County High School in 1993, but he returned to live in Fallon in 2001. Lawson and his pregnant wife, Michelle, moved back to Fallon from Reno before she gave birth to a daughter.

“We needed to save money so moving in with my folks seemed like a good idea,” he said. “I was working at Amazon.com at the time.”

 “I fell asleep after going through this morning ritual only to be shaken awake by my shocked wife who said, ‘Timm get up, your (Navy) senior chief is on the phone.” I sluggishly grabbed the phone and said, “Hey Senior, this is AK3, what’s wrong?” She replied with a quick, “AK3 have you been watching the news? We have been bombed and need to know if you volunteer to go?”

After more conversation, Lawson said he climbed out of bed and began watching the news.

Lawson said he had the gut feeling he would mobilize, so the family moved to Southern California where Lawson could finish his work on his bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University at Long Beach. Eventually, he earned a master’s degree in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding.

During the first few years of living in Southern California, Lawson said he was assigned to short support missions but nothing significant until 2009 and 2012. He deployed to Djibouti in 2009 and three years later to Afghanistan. In 2015, Lawson retired from the Navy as a senior chief.

The Lahontan Valley News also asked on its Facebook page for reactions on 9/11 and where readers were 19 years ago.

Peggy Ibbeson — “I was getting ready for work and had the TV on watching a New York station and could not believe what I was seeing. I went to work and the company sent everyone because we were so devastated; my heart was so with everyone that had families in the twin towers.”

Del Monte — “I was stationed in Japan and it was close to midnight there when it happened. First plane already hit when I was watching the news at Navy housing. I saw the second one hit and realized we just got attacked. After several minutes we got recalled back to the ship. I remember walking about a mile and a half back to the ship with my sea bag. I will never forget that day, or night from where I was at.”

Helga DC — “I was at the dentist getting my two front teeth pulled when I came home and turned the TV on the first thing I saw was the second plane hit the tower; it was almost unbelievable to see that happening. Very sad … my thought was with all the people who I just witnessed losing their life.”

Brenda Lebens — On that morning I was in bed at my apartment in Carson City. I worked graveyard and went to college during the day. My best friend called me and woke me up. So we were both on the phone watching the second tower being hit. A very very sad day indeed.”

Lloyd Dillon — “I was getting ready for work, and knowing I’d be in the state’s Emergency Operations Center 12/7 for the next six weeks.

Nicole Hanifan — “I was getting ready for school at UNR; it was such a sad day.”

Bernadette Franklin — “One of the saddest days of my life. I will never forget.”

Marj Leavitt — “I was getting ready for work and had to be in Reno for a staff meeting. Everyone seemed to be in a dazed state of mind.”

Wendy Wilkinson Matuszak — Getting ready for work here in Fallon and watching the Today Show. I’ll never forget.”

Patrick Allen Erickson — “I was an instructor at Navy boot camp in the U.S.S. WISCONSIN live-fire gun range when we got the word.”