Soldiers stationed in South Carolina reflect on how 9/11 shaped their military careers

Updated: Sep. 11, 2020 at 10:24 PM EDT
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SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (WIS) - When our country was attacked 19 years ago, where were you? Sitting in a classroom? Sound asleep on the other side of the world?

Two soldiers stationed at Shaw Air Force Base sat down with WIS to talk about that day and how it shaped their lives.

Colonel Roy Banzon, the Command Inspector General for U.S. Army Central, said 9/11 helped the country become more resilient and helped military members and their families understand their mission.

He was sound asleep on September 11, 2001, when he received a phone call around 3 a.m. He was stationed in Hawaii at the time and a captain in the Army at the time.

“They told me, 'Turn on the TV. There’s something going on. We’re being attacked,” he said

Col. Banzon said he and his family were shocked to see what was going on in New York City and Washington D.C.

A thousand miles away in a small town in New Hampshire, Sergeant Matthew LePage was sitting in his middle school history class.

He watched everything unfold with his classmates. His history teacher tried to give the sixth graders some perspective on what was going on.

“Before we left he said, ‘The events today are going to affect you and our country for the next 100 years,’” Sgt. LePage said.

Sgt. LePage said that day was a call for action. It made him realize he wanted to serve others.

“9/11 really started getting that ball rolling about what service meant to me and my community,” he said.

He began working with at-risk youth. Col. Banzon began his deployments to the Middle East.

LePage said it wasn’t until a close high school friend was killed in Afghanistan he decided to join the U.S. Army. He is an all-source intelligence analyst with U.S. Army Central. He is one of the many soldiers inspired by the events on 9/11 to join the military.

Col. Banzon said this bunch of soldiers got into the service for the right reason -- to protect their country.

“Soldiers like LePage are a product of all the things we’ve done so far,” he said.

Banzon believes the U.S. Army and country are in good hands with soldiers like him.

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