HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - Now stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Master Sergeant Jose Gonzales, with 633rd Logistics Readiness, was stationed at Bolling in D.C. on September 11.
He could see smoke rising from the Pentagon after it was hit by one of the hijacked planes. Gonzales found himself involved with the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, as well.
"Being a fellow New Yorker myself I was in the "shock and awe". Then all of a sudden we heard a big boom outside. Everybody runs outside and there's the smoke bellowing out from across the Potomac," Gonzales said.
Gonzalez had little time to think about his family in New York after the third hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon. As a supervisor at the vehicle maintenance facility at Bolling, he and his men were called into action immediately.
"We just had to get every thing out. Buses, ambulances, this vehicle. Anything that could move. Anything. Ah, pick-up trucks for damaged equipment over at the Pentagon. Ah, buses to evacuate personnel from the Pentagon," Gonzales remembered.
He added that was the easy part, but once the dust settled so did the reality of the situation.
"That's when the phone calls started. And [you know] the communication back and forth and I was calling back to New York seeing if everybody was okay. They were calling me," Gonzales said.
Gonzales' father was working near the Empire State Building at the time of the attack and had to walk home to the Bronx.
"...so we didn't hear anything from him till the next day. So that was (pause) again it was just [pause]...out of body...even now I think about it I get a little, a little shiver like man I can't believe that's still happening. I still haven't gone down to ground zero to this day," Gonzales continued.
That day served as a turning point in in Gonzalez' military career. In fact, it is the reason he still wears the uniform.
"Before it was just, it felt like a 9 to 5 job," Gonzales said.
Remembrance ceremonies this weekend he said should remind us to remain vigilant.
Gonzales said, "I'm not saying live life scared, but just be prepared."
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