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Where were you 7 years ago?

Thursday, September 11, 2008
Seven years ago Rod and I took Nick to Manchester, England so he could do a year of college in Europe. We planned on taking Nick to college and get him all settled, spend a day or two visiting the area and then head on back home. Well, as luck would have it, Nick was able to get settled, get a bank account set-up, etc., in just a couple of days. So we decided to head back home a day early so we could get back to work and check on how Chris was doing with his first year at Northwest Missouri State College in Maryville, Missouri. So, we headed back to Omaha on September 11, 2001 on flight Delta 65. After a few hours into the flight the pilot announced that our plane was having mechanical problems and that we were going to make an unexpected landing in St. Johns, Newfoundland. Rod had his cell phone and started making phone calls to try to let Nick and Chris know what was going on (although,he wasn't suppose to, you know, cell phones interrupt flight communications, yah, yah, yah...). He started getting bits and pieces of information, just enough to let us know that it was unlikely that our plane was experiencing mechanical problems. His cell phone was running out of battery, so he asked a flight attendant if he could charge it up back in their work area. The flight attendants were trying to put on these tough professional faces, but they were obviously very worried. They had also only heard bits and pieces of what was actually happening. Rod told them that they could certainly use his phone to call their family members to let them know they were safe. They were very appreciative. We circled Newfoundland for five hours while the pilot drained the plane of all of the extra fuel (we later found out that a bomb threat had been called into our plane). After we landed in St. Johns we sat in the plane on the tarmac for 10 hours watching 20+ other planes land at this small terminal. We eventually were let off the plane and loaded on big buses. Because of the security threat and the fact that the officials had no idea if they had any "bad guys" on this flight, we were not allowed to take any of our luggage, any of our personal items, not even any of our medications, unless there was something small in our carry-on that we could stick in a purse. (Thank God I wasn't sick then. I don't know what would have happened.) So, we stuck Rod's phone and his charger into my purse and got on a giant bus with our fellow travel companions. We rode for about 30 minutes and were taken to the Mile One Centre, which is a huge auditorium used by their hockey team.

We still did not have a real idea of what had happened until we walked into the stadium. We had to go through different check-points, getting registered, getting free drinks and snacks and then we were led into this hockey auditorium. Like many sports stadiums, this one had numerous giant screen TV's and we saw for the first time what had happened and what was going on back home. It was so eerie seeing what was going on in our country, while we were stuck in a totally different country. We had Nick in England and Chris is Missouri and here we were in Newfoundland. We had to stay at the Centre for a few hours until our flight was announced. We were loaded back into a bus and this time we were driven to the Salvation Army St. John's Temple, where we lived, sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags for a week.

Due to the bomb threats and the overall situation, all of the planes that landed on the island had to dump their extra fuel. We had to all wait until fuel could be delivered, via boats, and then we had to wait our turn to leave. It took us a full week before we were back in the air, heading for home. This is actually a photo taken from our return flight as we flew over New York, one week after the attack. Notice how it's still smoking.

I love our country. I love being an American. God bless America and all of it's people.

Thanks for reading.

3 comments to Where were you 7 years ago?:

Colleen said...

Wow, Annette. Everyone has their story of that horrible day etched in their minds, but yours had to be upsetting! I'm so glad nothing happened to you or your family. I am still very sad when I think about that day and what happened, but I think our country showed how much strength it had by uniting in prayer, and in actually caring about one another. I sure hope there will never be another day like that again!
Colleen :)

Di said...

I had no idea you and Rod had such a fearful week. Hard to have the boys in two different parts of the world and you guys some place inbetween them. We never know what tomorrow will bring, this day was a prime example of that. Hang onto the ones you LOVE, but most importantly have your life ready for the Lord. hugs, di

Donna said...

Wow! I didn't realize what a trauma you went through that week. Thankfully, you were able to get back home safely. That morning at 8:00 I had just put my then 86-year-old Dad on a plane going back home to VA. Luckily they took everyone off the plane, so he didn't get stuck somewhere else. It took him a week to get back home, too, but he was safe. I see the tapes and still find it hard to believe it really happened. Take care!
Love, Donna