Born a Generation Apart, Two Marines Share Their 9/11 Stories

By Lance Cpl. Karis Mattingly

Despite being born more than 20 years apart – one before the 9/11 attacks and one after – these two Marines were both impacted by the tragic events of September 11, 2001. They sat down to share their 9/11 stories.

“I am 1st Sgt. Thomas Tabisz. I was born Aug. 31, 1979, and I am the 1st Sgt. with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. In 2001 when the World Trade Center was attacked I was a lance corporal in the fleet.

“My name is Lance Cpl. Alexis Ann Briggs Moradian, and I am a graphics specialist with 3rd Marine Division, and I was born Jan. 1, 2002.

On Sept. 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m., American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

1st Sgt. Thomas Tabisz. | Photo credit U.S. Marines/Lance Cpl. Karis Mattingly

“I was in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune with the motor transport platoon,” Tabisz said. “We were out in the motorpool working on vehicles when our gunnery sergeant, on the intercom, told us to form it up. None of us had any idea what was going on, and then all of a sudden he rolled out one of those old TVs.”

Eighteen minutes after the first plane hit, a second aircraft, American Airlines Flight 175, struck the South Tower.

“We were watching the live news coverage, and then the second plane hit,” Tabisz said. “We sat there for three or four hours, watching.”

“The room was silent.”

As a junior enlisted Marine, Moradian shares her unique story and first memory of learning about 9/11.

“I was not born yet when 9/11 occured,” she said. “The first memory I have of 9/11 is when I was 12 years old, watching a news story in class. My sister also inspired me to learn more and do my own research on the tragedy because she is very patriotic and often spoke to me about the event to educate me.”

Lance Cpl. Alexis Ann Briggs Moradian | Photo credit U.S. Marines/Lance Cpl. Karis Mattingly

Moradian remembers she was eating with her family one day when her mom explained that Osama bin Laden, who led the al-Qaeda organization responsible for the attacks on 9/11, was captured and killed during Operation Neptune Spear in Afghanistan.

“Everyone reacted and united together during the events of 9/11 and years after,” she said.

Tabisz pauses for a moment to collect his thoughts as he shares the impact the attacks had on him.

“It really hit home and it was scary,” he said, with a solemn expression. “We didn’t have easily accessible cell phones, so we weren’t sure if our families were alright. I couldn’t believe it, at that time being a young lance corporal, I didn’t fully understand the situation or the significance. We were thinking it was a mechanical error, but then the planes just kept crashing.”

“The attacks on the World Trade Center enlightened a fire within me and every other Marine,” he said. “I realized that the training that I was doing as a Marine was preparing me for what’s to come, fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“What also helped to prepare me for Iraq and Afghanistan were my senior leaders sharing their experience during Desert Storm,” he said. “It is important to share our story [with the younger generation] because […] the junior Marines are the future leaders of the Marine Corps.”

Moradian expresses the impact 9/11 has on her and why she is so driven as a Marine.

“As we come up on a day in remembrance of 9/11, it puts my role as a Marine into perspective,” Moradian said. “We need to focus on unit readiness and work to prevent the past from repeating.”

Moradian shares her mindset of how our nation came together in unity to overcome the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

“9/11 is a reminder to work together as a nation,” she said. “We cannot do anything alone, and that was proven through the policemen, firefighters and civilians who selflessly reacted to the Twin Tower attacks during 9/11 to save one another.”

This story was originally published on DVIDSHub.net. It has been edited for USO.org.

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