Jamaican serves aboard US Navy ship commemorating 9/11Sunday, September 05, 2021
BY STEPHANIE FOX
AS the United States prepares to observe the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a Jamaican is serving in the US Navy aboard USS Somerset, named for Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in honour of the 40 passengers and crew who died during the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93.
On September 11, 2001, Seaman Daniel Mitchell was sitting in a classroom.
“I was in a school as a young child on 9/11,” said Mitchell. “I remember seeing the chaos on television. I remember everyone watching the news. I remember it was crazy; the screams, the smoke. I was too young to understand what was happening.”
Over time Mitchell learned the importance of commemorating 9/11.
“It definitely influenced me and made me want to join the military,” said Mitchell. “That day started something where I think all US citizens realised there are threats in this world that we can't ignore. We need to protect ourselves.”
Mitchell joined the Navy one year ago.
“It has always been a dream of mine to serve a greater purpose and to travel the world,” said Mitchell. “By serving in the Navy, I get to be a part of something great.”
Mitchell incorporates lessons learned from growing up in Jamaica into military service.
“A lesson I took from my hometown in Jamaica is humility and respect for others,” said Mitchell. “I brought this lesson to the military because there is always room to grow. You can never know enough. You learn something new every single day. As long as you remain humble you will always excel and go far.”
Over the weeks following the Flight 93 crash, recovery personnel retrieved more than 95 per cent of the airplane's wreckage from the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. USS Somerset's bow and keel are forged from steel salvaged from the crash. Every deck of the ship contains mementos of Flight 93, including a dedicated passageway leading to the memorial room, which bears the names of the passengers.
According to Department of Defense (DoD) officials, “We honour the lives of those lost and the courage and bravery of the first responders who tirelessly worked to save lives. They have become part of the DoD extended family.”
According to US officials, the flight's passengers and crew prevented terrorist hijackers from reaching their presumed destination in Washington, DC; instead crashing near Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Those aboard Flight 93 embodied the strength and determination of the people of the United States — to recover, rally, and take the fight to the enemy, honouring the memory of those who were impacted by the attacks.
“It's an incredible honour to carry on the legacy of service of the 40 heroes of United Flight 93,” said Captain Dave Kurtz, the commanding officer of USS Somerset. “As sailors we play the away game so that Americans don't have to react the way those passengers and crew members did 20 years ago. Their actions remain our inspiration.”
Serving in the Navy means Mitchell is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America's focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“The Navy plays a very important role in securing the seas, securing trade and protecting our country from external forces,” said Mitchell. “Terrorist attacks, pirates, whatever it may be, we defend our country.”
With more than 90 per cent of all trade travelling by sea, and 95 per cent of the world's international phone and internet traffic carried through fibre optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasise that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
According to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities, and capacity.
“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”
Mitchell and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“I am most proud of getting into the Navy,” said Mitchell. “It was hard to come from my home country and be a part of something I always wanted to — the Navy. The Navy was always something I wanted to join since I was young. I'm grateful every day that I am here.”
As Mitchell and other sailors continue to train and perform the missions they are tasked with, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“Serving in the Navy means that I get to do my part,” added Mitchell. “I get to help every day, so that others can have the benefits of living safely in our country.”
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