Remembering 9/11


Fordham swim coach part of Ground Zero rescue team

Afghan QB helped heal himself, friends with play

Charleston track star honors father lost in tragedy

Video Photo Gallery narrated by TNT’s Jim Huber

In their own words

Scott Strasemeier: Navy’s associate athletics director for sports information is currently in his 21st year at the Academy. Read more

Brian Stann: A former Navy linebacker, Stann graduated in 2003 and went on to serve two tours in combat overseas. He received the Silver Star for his leadership in battle in Iraq. Read more

John Dowd: The senior offensive guard for Navy is a native of Staten Island, N.Y., and was 11 years old on 9/11. On Sept. 11, 2010, Dowd ran onto the field for a game against Georgia Southern carrying an American flag that had previously been flown over special-operations bases in Afghanistan, raised at the World Trade Center site, and will be returned to Ground Zero for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Read more

Ben Bertelson: The junior baseball student-athlete and management major at Air Force was in his fifth grade classroom in Midland, Texas, when the events of 9/11 occurred. Read more

Andy Berg: The current assistant men’s ice hockey coach at Air Force was a junior at the Academy during 9/11. Read more

Randee Farrell: Farrell was the senior captain of the Army women’s soccer team in 2001. She currently is a marketing officer for the university and the officer representative for the women’s soccer team. Read more

James Flowers: Flowers was coach of the Army softball team when the events of 9/11 occurred. He retired from the athletics department in 2009 and witnessed his recruits take on a greater sense of purpose and a greater pride wearing the West Point uniform. Read more

Charles Wynne: The current director of image management and strategy at the NCAA national office worked for the public relations staff for the U.S. Air Force. Wynne was at the Pentagon on 9/11. Read more

William Walker: The vice director of athletics at Air Force is also a 1983 graduate of the Academy. Read more

Brian Lorusso: Senior Cadet Brian LoRusso grew up on Long Island and was barely a teenager on Sept. 11, 2001. He is the captain of the Army lacrosse team that also includes his younger brother, Larry. His two older brothers, Nick and Kevin, also played on the team. The international and comparative legal studies major will graduate a second lieutenant and, depending on where he is stationed, could see combat. Nick and Kevin have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. Read more

About the project

As the nation prepares to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this Sunday, asked select student-athletes and staff from some of the Association’s service academies about how the tragic events of 2001 affected their lives.

Student-athletes either from the graduating class of 2002 or 2003 talk about the immediate impact of 9/11, and current student-athletes who will be graduating now after the death of Osama bin Laden reflect on 10 years of post-9/11 life. Also, staff who were at their schools 10 years ago offer their perspective on both then and now.

Remembering 9/11

Publish date: Sep 8, 2011

In their own words: Ben Bertelson

The junior baseball student-athlete and management major at Air Force was in his fifth grade classroom in Midland, Texas, when the events of 9/11 occurred.

It was home hour, which is the first class of day. We turned on the televisions because the principal made an announcement about it. We watched the towers collapse. When you watch something like that, something changes in you. You realize, and this sounds cliché, but you realize freedom isn’t really free. Someone has to step up to defend it. At that point, I didn’t decide what I would do, but that event sent me down the path to join the military.

“I love the fact that after four years of going to school I can have the opportunity to serve my country.”

I chose the Air Force Academy because it had the best package to offer to me. It had the best academics, and it seemed to present the toughest challenge for me. It was close to home, and I hit it off with all the guys I talked to. I love the fact that after four years of going to school, I can have the opportunity to serve my country.

To be honest, knowing that we are at war made my decision to come to the Air Force Academy easier. Someone has to step up, and I’m that guy. All of the Air Force Cadets, and all the Cadets in general – we’re the guys who want to step up.

My plans are to cross-commission into the Marine Corps. I hope to be an infantry officer. I have to go through screening this fall. If I am one of up to six Cadets selected in January, I can go to Marine Officer Candidate School.

Deciding on what I want to do after I leave the Academy has been a slow process. I came here wanting to do something like being a special-tactics officer or combat rescue officer. I talked with guys who do that job, and I decided that it wasn’t the best fit for me. One of my best friend’s older brothers was a Marine. After talking with him, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

When you decide to come to the Academy, you know what kind of commitment you are making. After you finish basic training, everyone here knows they are in this for the long haul.

Being a student-athlete (pitcher) on the baseball team enhances the whole experience here. Just being a Cadet, you get incredible leadership opportunities. As a student-athlete, I get to learn teamwork, determination, toughness, leadership … just everything you can think of, really, I get to work on it twice, both as a Cadet and as a student-athlete.

My feelings about 9/11 haven’t waned over time. It may have for some people. It is like people just get used to the feeling. That’s something I try not to do. At the Academy, you are reminded that you are in the military every day. You have chosen the profession of arms. Every day you think about it. In less than two years, I’m going to be an officer and leading America’s finest men and women. That is something that Cadets take very seriously.