MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJUENE N.C. --
The morning commences at 8:46am as a Marine with Headquarters Battery, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, begins reading a timeline of Sept. 11, 2001, recapping the events of one of the most tragic moments in American history. The reading comes to an end, followed by quick, rhythmic music used by the Semper Fit trainers and through the speaker system, a voice cries out, “Are you ready for this?”
So began the 9/11 memorial physical training session held by HQ Battery, 10th Marines, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune N.C., Sept. 12.
“We wanted to do something to pay tribute to the sacrifices that took place that day, so we decided to pay tribute in true Marine fashion, by getting PT involved,” said Maj. Mathew Maz, commanding officer, HQ Battery, 10th Marines.
The memorial PT session was supported by the ladies of the base Semper Fit Program, who took the Marines through a high-intensity work-out meant to push even the most athletic of Marines to the point of breaking.
"The PT was great,” said Maz. “I don’t know the last time was when we all came together. I was very impressed with the participation and difficulty of the work-out.”
Throughout the Memorial PT session, the Marines were read the timeline of the 9/11 attacks and the different perspectives of those affected by the events.
“It’s the 10th anniversary. It’s really a big deal because it affected a lot of people, not just the Marines, but their families as well,” said Maz. “So we thought we needed to do something to help the Marines remember because after all, the Marine Corps is all about history, traditions and paying tribute to those who have sacrificed.”
Following the Memorial PT session the Marines were gathered together and asked to share their personal testimonials of the 9/11 attacks. At that moment, Sgt. Henry Zapata, platoon sergeant, Engineer platoon, HQ Battery, 10th Marines, stepped forward to share his story.
“10 years ago, I woke up in the morning and was getting ready for work like any other day,” said Zapata, a native of Brooklyn N.Y. “I went to the train station like always and was told the station was shut down. I overheard people talking about why it was closed and they said the Twin Towers had been hit.”
“I didn’t believe it and tried to use my cell phone, but it didn’t work, so I ran back home and turned on the TV. At first I thought it was a movie; I just couldn’t believe it. On TV, the news kept replaying the first hit, so I went into the backyard and saw all of the smoke in the sky. I could see paper in the sky and smell the smoke then suddenly the smoke started getting thicker and I learned the second plane had crashed into the second tower.”
“It was a very sad day and I spent the entire day wondering if my family was safe. My mother worked in the empire state building and my brother worked across the street from the towers so I didn’t know if they made it out of the area. It wasn’t until late that night that I found out my family was safe.”
After the Memorial PT session ended and the mass of Marines dispersed to carry on with their day, Zapata expressed his feelings towards the session.
“I really appreciated the [Memorial PT] today,” said Zapata. “I based my entire Marine Corps career on that day. It’s a day I’ll never forget and it’s why I am who I am today.”