As the Nation prepares to observe the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a Seal Beach, California, native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Somerset, named for Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in honor of the 40 passengers and crew who died during the hijacking of United Airline Flight 93.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Fireman Jacob Andrews, was in second grade.
“I remember that my parents came and picked me up from school to take me home,” said Andrews.
“I think commemorating 9/11 is important to remember all of the law enforcement, firefighters and public servants who put themselves at risk to reduce the damage that had been done and helped save others,” said Andrews.
Andrews joined the Navy three years ago.
“I joined the Navy because I wanted a new opportunity for myself,” said Andrews.
According to Andrews, a 2016 Los Alamitos High School graduate, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Seal Beach.
“Growing up, I was always taught to respect those who know more than you,” said Andrews. “It’s important to be humble and allow yourself the opportunity to learn.”
Over the weeks following the Flight 93 crash, recovery personnel retrieved more than 95 percent of the airplane’s wreckage from the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. USS Somerset’s bow and keel are forged from steel salvaged from the crash. Every deck of the ship contains mementos of Flight 93, including a dedicated passageway leading to the memorial room, which bears the names of the passengers.
According to Department of Defense (DoD) officials, “We honor the lives of those lost and the courage and bravery of the first responders who tirelessly worked to save lives. They have become part of the DoD extended family.”
According to U.S. officials, the flight’s passengers and crew prevented terrorist hijackers from reaching their presumed destination in Washington, D.C.; instead crashing near Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Those aboard Flight 93 embodied the strength and determination of the people of the United States: to recover, rally, and take the fight to the enemy, honoring the memory of those who were impacted by the attacks.
“It’s an incredible honor to carry on the legacy of service of the 40 heroes of United Flight 93,” Capt. Dave Kurtz, Commanding Officer, USS Somerset. “As sailors we play the away game so that Americans don’t have to react the way those passengers and crew members did 20 years ago. Their actions remain our inspiration.”
Serving in the Navy means Andrews is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities, and capacity.
“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”
Andrews and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“My greatest naval accomplishment would have to be helping other sailors dealing with mental health issues,” said Andrews. “I have only been in the Navy for a short time, but the reason I joined was because I wanted to help others. That’s what I’ve had the chance to do.”
As Andrews and other sailors continue to train and perform the missions they are tasked with, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“To me, serving in the Navy means putting on the same uniform as all of my fellow sailors, but at the end of the day, having the chance to stand out and prove yourself,” added Andrews. “We’re all working toward the same goals, but we can make the tasks our own and feel proud of ourselves at the end of each day.”
For more information about the Navy’s commemoration of 9/11, please visit www.history.navy.mil.