By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
The Daily Iowegian remembers the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania with a series of interviews.
The Daily Iowegian caught up with Desi Payne, also known as Dizzy the Clown, of Ottumwa, Jody McDanel, of Appanoose County and John Oliver, of Martinsburg, at the Moravia Fall Festival Saturday, Sept. 3. Also interviewed were Susan McDanel and Tatum Marcussen.
•DESI PAYNE, PROFESSIONAL ENTERTAINER AND MOTHER:
Payne said she remembers where she was and what she was doing 9/11/01.
"I definitely remember. I was at home. I had just taken the kids to school and I had just turned the TV on and it was, I mean, it was right there," Payne said.
Payne said her initial reaction to the 9/11 attack on America was alarm, panic and shock.
After 10 years the images and emotions from that day seem like yesterday for Payne.
"I mean it was just like yesterday. Very vivid, very vivid," Payne said. "You just kind of almost relive it when you think about it."
Payne said Sept. 1, 2011 changed the world in ways no one could imagine.
"That our world would never be the same," she said. "It was like a turning point in history. So I still think about how today, how it's totally changed everything."
•JODY MCDANEL, APPANOOSE COUNTY SUPERVISOR:
McDanel, like a lot of Americans, watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001, play out live on national television.
"The first thing through my mind, was, 'Wow, that guy really screwed up to fly into the first one accidentally.' How did he screw up that bad to fly into it," he said. "And then as I was watching it, the second one flew in."
McDanel had high praise for the way the passengers were able to ditch the plane in a Pennsylvania field before it could reach its destination.
"They were heroic in ditching it," he said. "I mean they went and ditched it so that it wouldn't get to the destination. They knew they were going to die."
Now after 10 years, McDanel said he knew the United States would not be able to fight the war on terror initially in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. McDanel said many of the people living in those countries never knew the 9/11 attacks occurred or why the U.S. invaded their countries, based on his viewing of a television news program.
•JOHN OLIVER, IOWA NATIONAL GUARD SGT. FIRST CLASS:
Oliver not only witnessed the events unfold Sept. 11, 2001, but he was also called-up to serve two tours of duty in Iraq — the first in 2004 and the second in 2007 — as a member of the Iowa National Guard. Sgt. First Class Oliver is attached with the 224th Engineer Battalion and is based out of Fairfield.
"That first deployment, it was the whole battalion, all of the Iowa Guard from southeast Iowa," he said. "And the second time I went, it was just the company from Ottumwa. That company is the 833rd."
Oliver, 43, said each tour in Iraq lasted one year. And each tour involved 114 Iowa National Guard members.
Oliver said he was at his desk at the Ottumwa base on Sept. 11, 2001 when someone in the Armory announced something was going on. They turned on the television in the Armory and watched the events of 9/11 unfold.
"They showed us the second plane hit (the World Trade Center)," he said. "It was live at real time."
Imagine watching from Ottumwa, Iowa, an attack on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania and realize at some point you are destined to play a personal and important role in your country's security in the very near future.
"I didn't know how it was going to manifest, but I knew that in some way it was going to involve me," Oliver said. "And when it involves me, it's going to involve my family."
Oliver is married to his wife Dawn and they have one child, Paige, 20. They live in Martinsburg in Keokuk County.
Oliver and his company the first tour in Iraq were in the Al Anbar Provence in the city of Ramadi and they performed convoy escort and route clearance. The second tour they exclusively performed route clearance, which is finding and destroying IED's.
Oliver was the company operations sergeant for both tours and was responsible for managing and sending troops for various missions.
Oliver was hard pressed to express his emotions on the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
"I just see it as an attack, an attack on us," he said. "And if someone attacked you personally, you're going to do something about it.
"I don't know, it's hard to say what emotions it evokes," he said.
The 224th Engineer Battalion is headquartered in Fairfield and has units in Centerville, Ottumwa, Burlington, Mt. Pleasant and Keokuk.
By Krystal Fowler
•SUSAN MCDANEL, a social studies teacher at Centerville High School, wasn't in school that day.
"I was visiting my daughter, Erin, who had been quite ill in Warrensburg, Mo. I was sitting at her kitchen table grading papers when her roommate, Kirsten, came out of her room and said something must be going on as the radio guy was really excited. I turned on the tv and Erin and I watched the events unfold. Warrensburg is close to Whiteman Airforce Base and when we heard that air traffic was being halted, we went outside and saw vapor trails in curves and circles heading back to the base and the Kansas City Airport. I drove home that afternoon listening to various radio stations. Kansas City downtown area was being evacuated, the President was being flown to a safe place, gas might be running low - it was one scary story after another. I wondered what was happening in my classroom at CHS. Were they watching? The next day I had the students write their thoughts about the events that were transpiring — those papers were some of the most emotionally charged views I have ever read."
•TATUM MARCUSSEN was just beginning her senior year in college.
"On 9/11 2001, I was a senior at Iowa State University. I was getting ready for class that morning when one of my roommates said a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I immediately turned on the tv in my bedroom just in time to see the second plane hit. At first, everyone thought this was a complete accident, not a terrorist attack. I had to leave the television to head for class and it was all everyone could think or talk about. My professor even let us out of class early to head back to our tv's. I spent the entire day watching the coverage and trauma our county endured. I remember going to work the next day at a clothing store in Ames wearing my "I Love New York" t-shirt. I remember people rushing to the gas station to fill up their tanks in fear of a gas shortage or up in cost.
9/11 happened on a Tuesday and country officials called off all football games for the weekend following the attacks in fear of more terrorists... this happened to be the weekend of the Iowa State vs Iowa game. Being a senior at ISU and a huge college football fan, it was strange to see this traditional rivalry game move to the end of November that year. I was proud to see how united our country became but now it makes me sad to see us all so divided, just 10 years later."