Wyo. National Guard Members Transformed By 9/11

Jeff Schuman reports, jschuman@k2tv.com

Wyoming National Guard members speak to the role 9/11 has played on their lives over the last 10 years.

At 8:46, the first of four hijacked planes slams into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

"I can definitely remember where I was and what I was doing," private Cody David said.

Just 17 minutes later, at 9:03 five hijackers crashed Flight 175 into the south tower.

"We actually watched the second aircraft fly into the second tower," General Luke Reiner said.

"The tragedy, the trauma, the aftermath," Private David said.

"There's a pit in the stomach feeling," Staff Sergeant Andrew Ballenger said.

And the inevitable became apparent.

"War had come to America and that it was time to get to work," Gen. Reiner said.

The Wyoming National Guard immediately placed armed guardsmen at all airports throughout the state; the first of many deployments to take place.

"The Wyoming Guard has deployed about 2,500 soldiers and airmen over this period of 10 years."

Several missions were laid out with the top priority Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

"For the longest time the biggest down for me was when are we going to get Bin Laden, when are we gonna get him, when are we gonna get him," Staff Sgt. Ballenger said.

As one failed attempt after another piled up, the search for Bin Laden became increasingly dangerous.

"We have lost three soldiers during this war since 9/11 and those names and those faces definitely stick with you," Gen. Reiner said.

Thousands of soldiers have lost their lives fighting to defend this great nation.

"Happy to do it and I'm here because I want to be here. And I'm here because there is no other place I really want to be," Staff Sgt. Ballenger said.

And to honor those 2,819 people lost on 9/11.

"This generation is writing their own place in history with their actions," Gen. Reiner said.

Finally on May 1st, just was done with the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

"We are defeating the enemy on the fields of battle and that is a good thing."

The lives that were lost on that tragic day remain on the minds of each guard member. And every day the nearly 3,000 Wyoming National Guard members fight to protect this great nation with the hopes of one day putting an end to the war on terror.