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9/11 Remembered: 47th Combat Support Hospital recalls the day

Joint Base Lewis-McChord reflect upon what 9/11 has meant to them

Capt. Mark Smith, a chaplain with the 47th Combat Support Hospital, led a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Capt. Mark Smith remembers where he was and what he was doing on 9/11.

"I was a pastor in a church, and I was working in my office," he said. "My wife called and told me what was happening. I went home and sat down and watched the news unfold."

The attack on the United States that day led him to leave his pastorate and become a chaplain.

Smith said that he had watched the movie We Were Soldiers and how the scene in which the wives of soldiers were told of their loved ones' deaths.

"You remember, the guy from Western Union who brought the messages to the wives that their husbands were dead?"

Then Smith went silent for a moment.

"That's when I knew being here with these soldiers and their families was a needed ministry. The Lord spoke to my heart," he continued.

Smith, along with Capt. Dwayne Wolf, is a chaplain with the 47th Combat Support Hospital, or CSH.

In a dusty open area on the far eastern edge of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, soldiers assigned to the unit stopped at exactly 1245 hours on Thursday to pay their respects to the fallen and reflect upon what 9/11 has meant to the country and the Army. 

"This is my first Remembrance Ceremony," Smith said, "and it will be more patriotic than religious."

Sgt. 1st Class Madeline Diaz spoke of how her younger brother and uncle narrowly missed dying when the Twin Towers came down.

"God was there," said the native of New York City in a quiet voice.

For 1st Sgt. Namond Travis, another native of The Big Apple who lost a cousin, the day represents the worst and the best.

"9/11 was a bad day in that I lost a family member, and it was a good day in that my daughter had been born exactly one year before."

He paused, and then said, "Those who attacked us could not break us; they never will break us."

Since that black day 13 years ago, 6,818 service members have made the ultimate sacrifice.

We remain unbroken.

Never forget.

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