Soldiers Speak Out on 9/11: 'I Never Handed Out a Bouquet of Flowers during Combat'

It has been fifteen years since this country was brutally attacked on 9/11, where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as planes flew into buildings.  People rushed into service to protect and defend America.  This horrific tragedy brought out the best in people, where they worked together to help others and to share in the proudness that the flag and National Anthem represent.  American Thinker interviewed two Americans who decided to serve in the military following the attack on 9/11.

In Nicholas Irving's latest book, Way of the Reaper, he talks about coming from a military family.  When asked his feelings about 9/11, he noted how he raced home from school, knowing then that he wanted to defend his country.  "I remember wanting revenge to do harm against those who did harm to innocent people.  I even asked my dad to drive up to New York so we could help search for people."

After joining the Ranger unit, Irving set a record for enemy kills on a single mission, killing 33 over a four-month period.  Being the first black American to serve as a sniper in his Ranger battalion unit, he has something to say about the current issues.  "With all the stuff going on in America today, it would be nice if everyone thought as those in my unit, being colorblind.  We all called each other brothers and sisters and would die for each other, no matter the race, religion, ethnicity, and gender."

Irving compared the current period in America to the environment after 9/11.  "I was so impressed with the camaraderie and unity we all had as Americans after September 11.  I remember how my parents instilled in me respect for the flag.  Everyone supported each other and the troops.  But then, as the years passed, people forgot about how they felt as they saw the planes fly into the buildings and people dying.  People also forgot about those in the military who sacrificed to keep everyone safe at home.  I consider it extremely distasteful for [49ers player Colin] Kaepernick to sit during the National Anthem, especially since some of my fellow soldiers died so he could have that right."

The book discusses how some on the left bashed soldiers for their actions against the enemy.  He recounts how a terrorist was spotted with an AK-47 standing on the balcony in Iraq.  After seeing the American troops, he went inside and came back with a young boy, keeping the child between himself and the railing.

Irving hopes people reflect on 9/11 and realize who the cowards really are: "The left think of us as cowards but never address the enemy, who uses human shields.  The true cowards are the terrorists who use children, as in the book example."

He is disgusted with all the political correctness that has changed the rules of engagement.  September 11 should have been a wake-up call about how the jihadists view American culture.  In the book, he remarks on "[h]ow we treated their [Taliban] wounded and how they would most likely let us suffer and then die a horribly painful death."

When asked if he thinks American attitudes have changed since September 11, 2001, Irving responded, "After Obama got elected, everything changed.  Now we were told the enemy has to see us effectively before we engage.  I had to go through a process before shooting a guy: shine a light on them, talk to them in their native tongue, and shine a red dot on them.  This is not the way snipers operate.  We should never announce our presence, like a thief in the night."

He went on to say, "We used to strike fear in the enemy.  War is hell, and we should get over the P.C.  Even though it is way more effective and takes fewer bullets, now we cannot use hollow-point bullets to shoot someone.  Dead is dead, whether someone is choked to death in hand-to-hand combat, shot from a drone, or killed with certain bullets.  I never handed out a bouquet of flowers during combat."

Amber Smith also recounts in her book, Danger Close, how she grew up in a military family.  She is fourth-generation military.  She remembers being awoken by her college roommate after the first plane hit the World Trade Center.  While on the phone with her mother, she watched the second plane hit, feeling disbelief and anger.  She told American Thinker, "It woke everything up for me, including my interest in aviation and the need for a military obligation.  September 11th had an effect on the future of my life and the path I chose.  My patriotism was awakened."

She became an Army Kiowa helicopter pilot who engaged in high-intensity warfare.  One of only a few women to fly this helicopter, her missions were armed reconnaissance and support for those fighting on the ground.  The Kiowa warrior pilots called themselves the "air cavalry," where they scouted the enemy, the horses were the helicopters, and the Stetson cowboy hats were their helmets.

Interestingly, she feels that as the years have passed since 9/11, there has been a disconnect between those who have served and are currently in the military and American civilians.  Look no farther than Colin Kaepernick's disrespect for his country as he sits while the National Anthem is played.  Smith states in her book, "Most people I encountered seemed oblivious to what was happening elsewhere in the world.  It seemed like no one knew there was a war going on – or worse, that they didn't care."

Those serving see themselves as the shields that protect Americans and are the ones who sought revenge.  She wants people to understand: "Americans are safe here because there are those of us fighting overseas.  People victimize the enemy and seem to forget about the atrocities committed by the terrorists.  I have never felt remorse or anguish in killing the enemy.  After 9/11, I saw it as an us or them.  The bad guys were trying to kill us, and I do not feel bad about protecting my fellow citizens."

These are only two representatives of those who have chosen to put their lives on the line to protect Americans.  It is unfortunate that today the words "we should never forget" have to be uttered about September 11.  Both Irving and Smith and all those who have served or are serving are fighting for what America stands for.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

It has been fifteen years since this country was brutally attacked on 9/11, where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as planes flew into buildings.  People rushed into service to protect and defend America.  This horrific tragedy brought out the best in people, where they worked together to help others and to share in the proudness that the flag and National Anthem represent.  American Thinker interviewed two Americans who decided to serve in the military following the attack on 9/11.

In Nicholas Irving's latest book, Way of the Reaper, he talks about coming from a military family.  When asked his feelings about 9/11, he noted how he raced home from school, knowing then that he wanted to defend his country.  "I remember wanting revenge to do harm against those who did harm to innocent people.  I even asked my dad to drive up to New York so we could help search for people."

After joining the Ranger unit, Irving set a record for enemy kills on a single mission, killing 33 over a four-month period.  Being the first black American to serve as a sniper in his Ranger battalion unit, he has something to say about the current issues.  "With all the stuff going on in America today, it would be nice if everyone thought as those in my unit, being colorblind.  We all called each other brothers and sisters and would die for each other, no matter the race, religion, ethnicity, and gender."

Irving compared the current period in America to the environment after 9/11.  "I was so impressed with the camaraderie and unity we all had as Americans after September 11.  I remember how my parents instilled in me respect for the flag.  Everyone supported each other and the troops.  But then, as the years passed, people forgot about how they felt as they saw the planes fly into the buildings and people dying.  People also forgot about those in the military who sacrificed to keep everyone safe at home.  I consider it extremely distasteful for [49ers player Colin] Kaepernick to sit during the National Anthem, especially since some of my fellow soldiers died so he could have that right."

The book discusses how some on the left bashed soldiers for their actions against the enemy.  He recounts how a terrorist was spotted with an AK-47 standing on the balcony in Iraq.  After seeing the American troops, he went inside and came back with a young boy, keeping the child between himself and the railing.

Irving hopes people reflect on 9/11 and realize who the cowards really are: "The left think of us as cowards but never address the enemy, who uses human shields.  The true cowards are the terrorists who use children, as in the book example."

He is disgusted with all the political correctness that has changed the rules of engagement.  September 11 should have been a wake-up call about how the jihadists view American culture.  In the book, he remarks on "[h]ow we treated their [Taliban] wounded and how they would most likely let us suffer and then die a horribly painful death."

When asked if he thinks American attitudes have changed since September 11, 2001, Irving responded, "After Obama got elected, everything changed.  Now we were told the enemy has to see us effectively before we engage.  I had to go through a process before shooting a guy: shine a light on them, talk to them in their native tongue, and shine a red dot on them.  This is not the way snipers operate.  We should never announce our presence, like a thief in the night."

He went on to say, "We used to strike fear in the enemy.  War is hell, and we should get over the P.C.  Even though it is way more effective and takes fewer bullets, now we cannot use hollow-point bullets to shoot someone.  Dead is dead, whether someone is choked to death in hand-to-hand combat, shot from a drone, or killed with certain bullets.  I never handed out a bouquet of flowers during combat."

Amber Smith also recounts in her book, Danger Close, how she grew up in a military family.  She is fourth-generation military.  She remembers being awoken by her college roommate after the first plane hit the World Trade Center.  While on the phone with her mother, she watched the second plane hit, feeling disbelief and anger.  She told American Thinker, "It woke everything up for me, including my interest in aviation and the need for a military obligation.  September 11th had an effect on the future of my life and the path I chose.  My patriotism was awakened."

She became an Army Kiowa helicopter pilot who engaged in high-intensity warfare.  One of only a few women to fly this helicopter, her missions were armed reconnaissance and support for those fighting on the ground.  The Kiowa warrior pilots called themselves the "air cavalry," where they scouted the enemy, the horses were the helicopters, and the Stetson cowboy hats were their helmets.

Interestingly, she feels that as the years have passed since 9/11, there has been a disconnect between those who have served and are currently in the military and American civilians.  Look no farther than Colin Kaepernick's disrespect for his country as he sits while the National Anthem is played.  Smith states in her book, "Most people I encountered seemed oblivious to what was happening elsewhere in the world.  It seemed like no one knew there was a war going on – or worse, that they didn't care."

Those serving see themselves as the shields that protect Americans and are the ones who sought revenge.  She wants people to understand: "Americans are safe here because there are those of us fighting overseas.  People victimize the enemy and seem to forget about the atrocities committed by the terrorists.  I have never felt remorse or anguish in killing the enemy.  After 9/11, I saw it as an us or them.  The bad guys were trying to kill us, and I do not feel bad about protecting my fellow citizens."

These are only two representatives of those who have chosen to put their lives on the line to protect Americans.  It is unfortunate that today the words "we should never forget" have to be uttered about September 11.  Both Irving and Smith and all those who have served or are serving are fighting for what America stands for.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.