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: William Walker

The vice director of athletics at Air Force is also a 1983 graduate of the Academy.

The applications to the Academy went way up in the first few years after 9/11. That day certainly had an impact on the kids who were here. It changed the way we look at our jobs.

“Everyone knew they had a serious commitment. Those Cadets all wanted to step up to the plate.”

The traditional role of the Air Force evolved into a special-operations type of mission and counter-insurgency. It immediately changed the mindset of the Cadets. Kids who come here now were around 8 to 12-years-old when it happened. The kids absolutely know what they are getting into when they decide to come here. They know it is a different type of Air Force than when I was a Cadet and graduated. These guys know they will be deploying a lot and that will be tough on their families. This is a much more expeditionary Air Force than it was. It’s been that way for 10 years, and everyone who comes here knows that.

I graduated in 1983. I was on the wrestling team. Before I came to the Academy (as an administrator) – and I had just gotten here when 9/11 happened – I was a commander of the First Helicopter Squadron out at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C. I flew twin-engine Huey helicopters. When the Pentagon was hit, it was near the helipad. I landed on that helipad literally hundreds of times.

When 9/11 happened, I wanted to do more than I was able to in Colorado Springs. My unit did a tremendous job, and I was very proud to see how they did on that day. My unit was there for immediate-response support for national security and continuity of operations plans. You felt helpless being here at that time. I knew so many people doing so many things that day.

I remember on 9/11 that I went for a run that morning. I was going back into the gym. I heard something on the radio about a plane that just crashed into the World Trade Center. I thought I remember hearing that it was a Cessna plane. I remember thinking that it was pretty weird for something like that to happen. It was still big news. I just couldn’t figure out how a Cessna could be that far off course. Then when the reports started coming out that it was an airliner, and then the second one hit. I went into the athletics director’s office.

We had the television on, and we just stood there watching. I saw some  helicopters from my unit flying around in the background on some of the news reports. It was a helpless feeling not being able to contribute.

The Academy was locked down. This is a huge tourist attraction. That changed instantly. We couldn’t let people on the base, and that had a huge impact on the Academy and the athletics department. That’s the minor stuff.

As far as the Cadets went, 9/11 was the topic in every single class, whether it was chemistry or softball. We were all breaking in new ground. Everyone knew they had a serious commitment. Those Cadets all wanted to step up to the plate.

We had a huge increase in applications the next few years. My generation wasn’t around when Pearl Harbor happened. From hearing my parents talk, I know people were mad that we got violated and everyone wanted to step up.

The applications have tapered off in the last few years, but it is still higher than it was before 9/11.