Recounting events of 9/11

Published 7:40 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

It began with a morning off.

Everyone has their recollections of where they were when, as the Alan Jackson song goes, “The world stopped turning.” And since 9/11, like the anniversary of the John F. Kenney assassination,  is a time for recollections of where you were when the planes hit the tower, I figured I’d do like so many other journalists and recount my story.

As I said, it began with a morning off. We were living in Pascagoula at the time, and the Jackson County Board of Supervisors were having a public meeting the night of Sept. 11, 2001, and my editor told me, nay, ordered me to take morning off to save hours.

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I had taken our daughter to class at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and was on my way when I heard on the radio that a plane crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. I arrived home and turned on the set just in time to see the second plane strike the other tower, sending a ball of flame and smoke into the air. About 15 minutes later the phone rang and my city editor was on the line.

“Who do we call at the naval station about this?” she asked.

I gave her the name and phone number of my base contacts, ending with “do you want me to come in?”

The response was “no, I think we’re fine.”

About 30 minutes later came a second call asking whom to call at the Chevron refinery. Again I asked, “Do you need me to come in?” I got the same answer as before.

A third call for help ended with “you’d better come in.”

Besides covering the Navy, one of my jobs was covering the county’s veterans’ organizations, and I had developed a good relationship with the vets in the county. The minute I walked through the door I was hit with, “Call your veterans (my veterans) and see what they think about this.”

After several tries to get the commander of the local VFW Post, I called his daughter, who told me he was in Washington, D.C., attending a conference. I gave him a call and got a report on the chaos in the nation’s capital as well as an opinion. Another call put me in touch with the husband of the former commander of Naval Station Pascagoula, who had been assigned to the Pentagon. After getting her number, I gave her a call and learned about the chaos after the Pentagon was hit by a plane.

The 9/11 stories didn’t end with the next day. I spent my time talking with naval officials, port officials and people at Chevron about security measures that were starting to take effect to protect local government facilities.

So every year, I remember what happened in 2001. I’ve covered hurricanes, floods, chemical spills, train derailments and tornadoes and floods, but there will never be another situation like 9/11 — I hope. And that will be just fine with me.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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