I remember being in my Aqua Blue 1994 Single Cab 4 Banger Toyota Tacoma and driving to my high school in Temecula. It was my senior year and I already knew that I was going to serve. Coming from a family of immigrants it was ingrained in me to give back to the country that had given me so much. I thought I would do ROTC; serve for a couple of years; be a Rifle platoon leader, maybe a company commander; and then leave with that block checked.

But what I was hearing on the radio at 6:30 in the morning, while stuck in traffic at Nicolas Road waiting to make that left turn into my school, shocked me. It was early enough in the reporting that everyone thought that it was still an accident. But then I remember making that left turn and hearing the newscaster starting to yell that another one just hit and they now think that it was intentional.

Walking into school you could still see that some people knew what was going on while others didn’t. Seeing mixed in the crowd the usual set of emotions, which a new school day brings, on the faces of those who hadn’t heard the news yet, with the stupefaction of those who had heard, was surreal. It wouldn’t be the first time that I would encounter such a surreal moment. Sorta like every time you rotated off a COP to a super FOB for a refit and saw nothing, but a sea of fobbits as far as the eye could see.

Getting into the homeroom was even more somber as the planes hitting the towers were on in every classroom and all eyes were glued to them. People knew we were going to go to war; we just didn’t know where. I guess that’s what it was like after Pearl Harbor too: crowds of young men angry and anxious about what was going to happen next.