20 Years Ago - Never Forget

Saturday, September 11, 2021

In 2001, life for many of us in our smaller communities was very different.

In Monett, we still had Jack Frost on the “Sunny Side of the Street,” next to Brownsbergers across from The Trunk, and we actually still had a Radio Shack. Spradling Motors was doing business where O’Reilly’s is located now, and we had Taco Palace where Big Baldys currently resides.

During the summer months, Easley’s Southwest Dr. Pepper Company sold to Coca Cola Enterprises. On July 1, Cox Monett Hospital welcomed its first special delivery, Ely Cobin Stuhlman at 8:47 a.m. The hospital also hired two new baby doctors, Dr. Amber Economou and Dr. Bobby Pittman.

Our president at that time was George W. Bush, Jr., and Vice President Dick Cheney returned to work in July following having a new pacemaker put in.

According to The People History, some of the national events included NASA launching the Genesis spacecraft in August and the Apple Computer Company releasing the iTunes program.

Locally, the Monett Chamber of Commerce was hosting the Junior Livestock Show and the Monett Jaycees were having their annual carnival.

Jack Henry and Associates underwent its first major renovation, adding approximately $20 million in facilities to the complex.

Steps were put in motion for a new local bank announced by Michael Wallace, a principle investor, and Darrin Newbold, president and CEO.

One of the local major tragedies was when Pierce City Police Chief Jim Dacy was killed in a shooting at Pierce City Cemetery. It was eventually ruled an accident.

As we grew closer to the end of the summer, The Monett Times announced that Sister Vivian Mitala retired following 43 years at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Cox Monett Hospital. William Dale Burke was given the oath of office as Barry County second associate circuit court judge and Wintech marked its 10th anniversary.

On the morning of Sept. 11, Monett and the surrounding area residents were probably practicing their normal morning actions. We woke up, probably drank coffee, watched the news, and then went to work or to school.

On this infamous day at 7:59 a.m. EST, little did the residents in Barry and Lawrence counties know that numerous tragic events would go down in history. At this particular time American Airlines Flight 11 departed from Boston’s Logan International Airport, bound for Los Angeles, Calif. Aboard were 11 crew members, 81 passengers and five hijackers.

At 8:14 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston, also headed for Los Angeles with nine crew members, 56 passengers and five hijackers. The flight has its final routine communication with air traffic controllers. Sixteen seconds later, controllers instruct the pilot to increase the plane’s altitude. However, there is no response, and all subsequent messages are unanswered. Investigators believe the plane is hijacked around this time.

At 8:19 a.m., a flight attendant on Flight 11 alerts American Airlines that the plane has been hijacked. She reports that the “cockpit is not answering” and that the hijackers reportedly have a bomb. In addition, two other flight attendants and a passenger have been stabbed.

At 8:20 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 departs from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., bound for Los Angeles. The plane is carrying six crew members and 58 passengers, including five hijackers. Before boarding, three of the terrorists had set off the metal detectors when going through security, but all passed subsequent inspections.

At 8:21 a.m., the transponder on Flight 11 is turned off, making it difficult for air traffic controllers to monitor its course.

At The Monett Times in 2001, the staff included: Mike Stubbs, editor and publisher; Murray Bishoff, managing editor; Lisa Craft, advertising manager; Charles Brady, community editor; Christopher Vore, lifestyles editor; Allen Adkins, press superviser; and Charlotte Brady, composing editor. We were doing our normal newspaper duties and as far as I remember, nothing special other than trying to get everything done to publish the Tuesday newspaper.

At 8:24 a.m., mistakenly broadcasted over the air traffic control channel instead of the public address system, Flight 11 hijacker Mohammad Atta, who was piloting the plane, announces, “We have some planes. Just stay quiet, and you’ll be okay. We are returning to the airport.”

This was soon followed by “Nobody move. Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you’ll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.”

Air traffic controllers at Boston’s Logan Airport alerted the United States Military’s Northeast Air Defense Sector.

At 8:42 a.m., Flight 175 makes its last communication with air traffic controllers, reporting that during takeoff it heard a “suspicious transmission” from another airplane, later determined to be Flight 11. Around this time, Flight 175 is hijacked and some five minutes later its transponder code is changed. Also, United Airlines Flight 93 departs from Newark International Airport in New Jersey, headed to San Francisco, Calif. Aboard are seven crew members and 37 passengers including four hijackers. At this point, no aircraft has been notified that Flight 11 has been hijacked.

At 8:44 a.m., a second flight attendant on Flight 11 is on the phone with air officials and reports that the plane is in “rapid descent” and that it is flying “way too low.” The call then abruptly ends.

At 8:46 a.m., two military jets are ordered to depart from Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod headed to New York.

At 8:46:40 a.m., hijackers on Flight 11 fly the airplane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact occurs between floors 93 and 99. The crash instantly kills hundreds, including all of those on board. Almost immediately, emergency responders are sent to the building.

When the first flight hit the World Trade Center, it was 7:46 a.m. in Monett. Bishoff and Vore were not at work yet. I received a call from Vore saying that a plane just flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I was speechless and was thinking what a horrific accident this is.

At 8:51 a.m., Flight 175 changes from its assigned altitude, and repeated efforts by air traffic controllers to contact the plane are unsuccessful. Flight 77 has its last routine radio communication. It is believed the plane is hijacked shortly thereafter.

At 8:52 a.m., a flight attendant on Flight 175 calls United Airlines and informs officials that the plane has been hijacked and that both pilots are dead. During this time, passengers are also phoning friends and family. Passenger calls provided important information about the hijackings in subsequent investigations.

At 8:54 a.m., Flight 77 heads south from its assigned path, and two minutes later, hijackers turn off the plane’s transponder. Efforts to contact the aircraft are unsuccessful.

At 8:55 a.m., U.S. President George W. Bush, who has arrived at an elementary school in Sarasota, Fla., is told that a plane has struck the World Trade Center, though details are uncertain.

At 8:58 a.m., Flight 175 sets a course for New York City.

At 9 a.m., the Public Authority Police Department orders the evacuation of all civilians in the World Trade Center complex. A passenger on Flight 175 contacts his father for the second time that morning and reportedly tells him, “I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building. Don’t worry, dad, if it happens, it will be very fast.”

At 9:03:11 a.m., Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, striking between floors 77 and 85.

Locally, at the newspaper, Vore and I were still on the phone talking about what we thought was a terrible accident when he shouted into the phone that another plane had just flown into the South Tower while he was watching the news. It was then we knew it was no accident. The United States was under attack, and even though we felt terrible about all of the people that had lost their lives in just a split moment, the outlook had taken a dramatic change.

At 9:05 a.m., President Bush, who was reading to school children in a classroom, is told by his Chief of Staff Andrew Card that a second plane has struck the World Trade Center and that “America is under attack.”

At 9:25 a.m., Information is confirmed and the Federal Aviation Administration bars all civil aircraft in the United States from taking off.

At 9:29 a.m., Hijackers on Flight 93 attack the cockpit. “Mayday” is declared over a radio transmission and sounds of a physical struggle are heard. On another transmission seconds later, someone yells “get out of here.”

At 9:32 a.m., Controllers at Dulles observe an airplane traveling at a high rate of speed. Two minutes later officials at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport alert the Secret Service of a plane, later determined to be Flight 77, headed in the direction of the White House. A hijacker on Flight 93 announces, “Ladies and Gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So, sit.”

Passengers begin making phone calls, and then they learned about the World Trade Center.

At 9:36 a.m., U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is evacuated to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, which is located under the White House.

At 9:37:46 a.m., Flight 77 hits the Pentagon in Virginia with the throttle set to maximum power. In addition to all those on the plane, 125 people on the ground and in the building are ultimately killed.

At 9:41 a.m., The transponder from Flight 93 is turned off.

At 9:42 a.m., The FAA orders all 4,546 civil aircraft flying in United States airspace to land.

At 9:55 a.m., President Bush departs Florida on Air Force One. Although the initial plan had been to return to Washington, D.C., safety and other concerns result in a change of destination to an air force base in Louisiana. He subsequently departed Louisiana and headed for Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where he stayed until 4:30 p.m. when he left for Washington, D.C.

At 9:57 a.m., Following a vote, passengers aboard Flight 93 rush the cockpit in an attempt to retake the plane. Despite a hijacker rolling the aircraft from side to side and up and down, the passengers continue to batter at the cockpit door.

At 9:59 a.m., The South Tower collapses.

At 10 a.m., All members of New York Fire Department are ordered to evacuate the North Tower. While many begin leaving, some do not hear the order, while others are unaware of its urgency. More than 400 emergency responders are ultimately killed in the WTC attacks.

At 10:02 a.m., With the passengers apparently close to breaching the cockpit door on Flight 93, the hijackers decide to “put it down” and begin a sharp descent.

At 10:03 a.m., Flight 93 crashes in a field near Shanksville, Penn., killing everyone on board. The plane would have reached Washington, D.C., its suspected destination, in about 20 minutes.

At 10:24 a.m., All transatlantic flights headed to the United States are diverted to Canada.

At 10:28 a.m., The North Tower collapses. In total, more than 2,700 people die at the World Trade Center complex.

At 11:02 a.m., New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani orders the evacuation of lower Manhattan.

At 12:16 p.m., U.S. airspace is clear after the last plane lands.

The only way I can explain my feelings at the time is shock and such extreme sadness. Attacking the United States shook the world and changed the outlook for so many. I can only speak for myself, but when I watched the news and saw attacks and bombings in other places, I felt that those things just did not happen in our country, that terrorist attacks from other countries did not happen in America. I thought that for the most part we were invincible. Sadly, I found out that this was not true and my sense of protection and invincibility were gone.

At 8:30 p.m., President George W. Bush addressed the country from the White House Oval Office. During the speech, he announced that “terrorists attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”

Twenty years ago this happened and it is still fresh in my mind. After the attack, Americans came together, flags flew high, respect for our fellow man and military grew and gatherings in our churches increased. We honored those that lost their lives in an horrific tragedy. We need to remember how we felt and return to the honor and respect we had without having to have a tragedy force us into that mindset.

On Sept. 11, 2001, a total of 2,996 people were killed in the attacks, including the 19 terrorist hijackers aboard the four airplanes. Citizens of 78 countries died in New York, Washington, D. C. and Pennsylvania. At the World Trade Center, 2,763 died after the two planes slammed into the twin towers.

I will never forget, and my hope is that you do not forget either.

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