Updated: September 07, 2021 06:31 PM
Created: September 07, 2021 12:28 PM
He remembers doing night flying at the 148th Fighter Wing on September 10th, 2001. In the daylight of September 11th, Ryan Gigliotti was on dad duty with his young daughter.
"We were playing, and the Today Show was on in the background. The first airplane hit, and I thought, that's strange, what's going on here," he recalled.
When the second plane hit, he knew something was wrong. He called his boss, and rushed back to the base. He was a crew chief, part of the team that gets the aircraft launched.
"We were all in as fast as we could. Getting the airplanes ready to go, and supporting real world missions. We were escorting Air Force One that day," he said.
It was rewarding, making sure the airspace was secure all over the country by doing combat air patrols. "We were flying over Langley Air Force Base, and over the White House, and protecting President Bush's house in Crawford, Texas," he said.
Ever since then, it's been deployments and missions. And he believes it helped the wing secure the newer Block 50 jets they have now.
Most of the airmen who were serving back then divide their career into pre-9/11 and post-9/11.
"Sometimes it feels like yesterday. And sometimes it seems like a lot has happened since then," he shared.
Something that happened in his family is that his son, Joey, has joined the Air Force. "He grew up with me being gone. And his mother was part of the service. He knows what it's like to serve. And he wants to be part of it, so that's pretty cool."
As he looks back 20 years, he remembers the country feeling united. And he would like that to return.
"Everyone was American first, and it wasn't so politically divided. I think at the time everyone said, never forget. And we'd all be better for it, if we went back to that," he said.
We'll have more reflections on 9/11 from other airmen, later this week.
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