NORFOLK (Sept. 10, 2014) – The day began as a beautiful summer morning in New York City with the familiar sound of car horns blaring and a clear blue sky overhead. The serene morning quickly turned chaotic as the worst terrorist attack in American history took place Sept. 11, 2001. Scheduled to deploy in only a week, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt’s (CVN 71) mission took a sudden and drastic change.
“The amount of people that died that day, there are no words for it,” said Chief Electronics Technician Jennifer Sally, who previously served onboard TR in 2001 at the time of the 9/11 attacks. “The fact that the Roosevelt was able to go on deployment and was able to go make a difference, that makes me extremely proud that I was here and I contributed to my country.”
TR deployed from Naval Station Norfolk on Sept. 17, 2001, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). TR assisted previously deployed aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in air strikes against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, said Sally.
TR spent 159 consecutive days at sea conducting operations in support of OEF, breaking the record for longest period underway since World War II.
Chief Mass Communication Specialist Adrian Melendez also served onboard TR in 2001 while assigned to the “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137.
“I was motivated to be out there because we were flying non-stop,” said Melendez. “It was a good time to be out on deployment because you felt like you were out there for a reason. Everyone had a mission and they knew what it was for.”
“It was amazing how after a disaster, the ship’s crew came together as a team so fast,” said Sally. “I have never seen such high morale on an aircraft carrier before. Everybody was like ‘let’s go over there and kick some [butt].’”
The purpose and urgency felt in the aftermath of 9/11 still permeates the crew and Navy as a whole, said Melendez.
“Everyone is a lot more patriotic after September 11,” said Melendez. “Everything is in preparation to go to war and we are more at a readiness status so we can deploy at any time.”
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kris R. Lindstrom, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs
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