9/11 remembered; former Camp Lejeune Marine, Pentagon analyst shares his experience
People across the U.S. are honoring the lives of the nearly 3,000 people that were lost in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil 22 years ago today, including those who live, work and serve in Jacksonville.
Among them a now-retired Marine who had been stationed aboard Camp Lejeune and was transferred to the Pentagon just weeks before the 9/11 attacks.
On that day, Pentagon Program Analyst Lt. Col.Russel Jamison was briefing a group of general officers early that morning when officials began pulling some if those officers out of the meeting – which at first he didn’t find all that unusual.
“But it was clear afterwards that they were pulling people out to inform them of what was transpiring in New York City, “ he said.
And not long after, another plane hit the Pentagon, after Jamison had returned to his office.
"Didn't completely knock me out of my chair, but it certainly impacted the building so we knew something big had happened,” Jamison said.
Although on the opposite side of the building, Jamison said the plane came to a stop just 50 yards from his office.
He and others that worked in the same area ran from the building to the south parking lot. He said, “"You could see the smoke rising from the building. You could smell the jet fuel and you could smell other smells.”
In the days after the attacks unfolded, Jamison said he was angry.
“I was ready to kick a** and take names,” he said, “I was I was full of vitriol and hate, for the cowardly bast**** that did this. I was consumed with rage.”
Some of that anger lingers; Jamison said he still feels, “Hateful and vengeful, even though I've had the opportunities to get after those who did it. We say, you know, never forget and I can't forget. My faith tells me to forgive. I have a hard time with that.”
Still, something positive came out of the event for the Jamison’s. Married ten years, Russel and his wife Carol – a Jacksonville realtor -- had consigned themselves to being a “dual income/no kids” couple. Then, eight months to the day after his return to Jacksonville immediately after the September 11 attacks, and a few weeks early, their only daughter was born.
Jamison has since retired from the Marines; he is a training contractor with the National Guard and also teaches at the University of Mount Olive.
The Patriot Day Observance in Jacksonville will be held at the 9/11 Memorial Beam at Lejeune Memorial Gardens, It begins at 8:15 a.m., to mark the time that the first of the Twin Towers was hit.