Updated 09/06/2011 04:37 PM
Fort Drum Remembers 9/11: A soldier's tale
Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks. It's a day that changed our lives forever. It's a day that's also had a profound impact on Fort Drum, making it the place it is today. Over the course of the week, our Brian Dwyer will take a look back at the role Fort Drum has played in the response and has some incredible stories of the men and women affected. Today, we start with one man, a Staff Sergeant with the very first Drum unit called to action after the attacks. That man is the last soldier still at Fort Drum who was called upon for that historic mission.
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "This just in. You're looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center."
"The day, September 11th, 2001, we were doing a combined training event with all the mortars in the 1-87. We were actually packing the trucks up with the equipment getting ready to drive out to the training area when the platoon sergeant came out and said, 'hey, post guard. Everybody get inside and start watching TV. They just attacked the World Trade Center," said SSgt. Shawn Herzberg.
"Another one just hit. Something else just hit. A very large plane just flew directly over my building. There's been another collision."
"The platoon sergeant came back down the hallway a couple minutes after that and told everybody they're on standby. It was a terrorist attack, get ready," Herzberg said.
"Within that time frame it had been decided that the 1-87 was going to deploy. We just went straight into being issued the DCU's, desert camo uniforms and all the rest of the equipment we were going to for the deployment," Herzberg continued. "Initially, we flew into Uzbekistan. We were based there for a couple months actually, I think, and we were just helping pull security for the base because that's where all the troops were flying into. We were then in turn getting ready to come back when Operation Anaconda came down. We went down to Bagram for that. I thought I was both prepared, personally and Army. Come to find out, just Army, because in my mind, I was scared to death."
"We ended up falling into the valley where there was over 800 insurgents. Taliban Insurgents. We were in an 18 hour firefight," continued Herzberg. "Anaconda happened on March 2nd and on March 3rd, we got pulled out around 3 or 4 in the morning."
Herzberg said, "It was just something I joined the Army to do. What I joined for was to go and do stuff like that to protect the U.S. "I see it as a great honor to still be here. I really enjoyed being in 1-87 this whole time. I met a lot of good people that taught me a lot of good stuff that I've been able to pass onto other soldiers."
But this month, Sergeant Herzberg is leaving, headed to Italy on new orders, the last of the soldiers on that historic first mission. But as soldiers leave, soldiers come.
Wednesday, we'll meet soldier who was just 10 years old that day and as Brian shares her story, we'll learn how a pencil sharpener near a window led to her seeing 9/11 in a way few did and how that led her to Fort Drum.