It was not often that my Unit pager went off with a real-world mission alert, but every time it did, it was as middle-of-night as it could possibly be, almost to the extent of being cliché. The numerical indicator on my pager only told me what to do — never why. In this case, I was to report to work immediately. I also never knew if it was just me, my whole squadron, or the whole Unit.

Since the streets were largely devoid of all traffic at that hour my chief concern was to not run into my Delta brother Patrick Arther McNamara. He lived literally just down the street in the same hood. If he got the same alert, he would also be exiting like a hell-departed bat, one escaping from the fourth ring of the ninth circle of the inferno, as Dante described it.

Strolling into my assault team’s room so as to appear cool and collected, I quelled the temptation to blurt out: “What’s going on? What’s happening?? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???” like a rookie. Nobody wanted to hear that annoying question in the first place, and secondly, if any of my mates had ANY information they were going to pass it on to me immediately.

“Hi there, would you like to be my neighbor?” I joked with Guido.

“Good morning Mistah Sinatra,” he responded in his mafioso voice.

Our Team Leader, pushing his way into the room, holding a notebook and sporting a very wide-awake expression, stated the following in a matter-of-fact voice:

We’ve got an airliner hijacking situation.

That was, as I judged it at the time, a pretty good opening line for a holy hell moment. Again the brothers and I held the temptation at bay to assault (no pun) the TL with a salvo of jabbing questions about the situation. We waited and gave him a respectful silence to finish his data dump: