NAS LEMOORE — Chief Select Ricardo Dominguez was getting ready for school at JFK Middle School when the news of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks flashed across television screens.
“My brother was in the Marine Corps and my mother had just found out that there were planes hijacked,” Dominguez, who was born and raised in Hanford, said of that morning. “I could just see my mother crumble, because she was afraid that this meant war.”
Dominguez helped plan the annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony at Naval Air Station Lemoore on Wednesday along with the rest of the NASL Chief Selectee Induction Class 126.
Members from the class each told a story of that fateful day and ended with a somber memento - “we will never forget” - to honor the 2,996 people who died 18 years ago. A toll bell rang out after each officer spoke.
Chris Fischer, executive officer of NASL, presented the keynote speech. He was last year’s speaker and was honored to be selected again this year, he said.
“There’s a lot of emotions involved (in writing the speech),” Fischer said. “I think back to where I was and what I was doing on 9/11 and it’s hard to encapsulate all of those moments into a short 10 minute speech. But I did my best.”
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Fischer was in Pensacola, Fl. when he heard about the terrorist attacks. He had graduated from the Naval Academy in May and just started Aviation Pre-flight Indoctrination, which is ground and survival schooling needed before pilots can fly planes, he said.
Fischer read excerpts of Pentagon 9/11, an official account of what happened before, during and after the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. It was written by historian Alfred Goldberg and several co-authors.
“All though they could not prevent the attacks, the military forces responded in the hours and days afterwards, with a heightened level of alertness, prepared for offensive action against the terrorists in Afghanistan,” Fischer said in his speech.
The NASL Ceremonial Division presented the parading of the colors, folding of the flag and 21-gun salute. Rough Raiders of Strike Fighter Squadron 125 performed a flyover to honor those who lost their lives.
It takes about a month to plan the event, Dominguez said. A large crowd of base commanding officers and executive officers, along with additional family members, attended the morning ceremony.
“Our entire team worked together and we sought out help from the fire department and our leadership to make sure we could pull this event together,” Dominguez said. “It’s a great honor to remember all of those who perished on 9/11.”