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Airmen, Soldiers, remember 9-11 in solemn Jefferson Barracks ceremony

Hundreds of Airmen and Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard pay tribute at the Jefferson Barracks 9-11 remembrance ceremony Sunday morning on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. (photo by Capt. Jason Konieczki)

Hundreds of Airmen and Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard pay tribute at the Jefferson Barracks 9-11 remembrance ceremony Sunday morning on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. (photo by Capt. Jason Konieczki)

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. -- Sunday's 9-11 ceremony at Jefferson Barracks in south St. Louis County was especially personal for Col. Wendul G. Hagler, the Missouri National Guard chief of staff.

On Sept. 11, 2001 Hagler was at the Pentagon shortly after terrorists flew a jet liner into the building.

"I was assigned to the Pentagon as a war plans officer and had actually called in sick that day for the first time in a long time," Hagler recalled. "When the attacks came my wife woke me and said, 'It's time for you to go to work.'"

Hagler quickly dressed and made his way to the Pentagon where he later learned that a good friend and colleague had been killed in the attack.

"So the attacks were personal for me as they were for all Americans that day," he said.

Hagler was among Soldiers of the 70th Troop Command who joined Airmen of the 157th Air Operation Group and the 121st Air Control Squadron on the Jefferson Barracks parade grounds Sunday morning for a solemn remembrance ceremony. Other dignitaries at the ceremony included Col. David Newman, 157th Air Operations Group and Jefferson Barracks base commander, Col. Chip Atterbury, chief of intelligence for the 157th Air Operations Group, and Col. Jo Ann Peterson, commander of the 131st Medical Group.

"It's important for us to take this brief moment to remember the lives lost," said Capt. Edward Ramatowski, 157th Air Operations Group Chaplain. "And it's a reminder that we too may be asked to give our lives for the sake of freedom."

"Ten years does not erase the horrible events we witnessed on 9-11," added Maj. Derek Wolter, 157th Air Operations Group Chaplain. "The memories of the attack and its effect on the families of the victims and the hundreds of thousands who have placed themselves in harm's way to protect and defend this nation remain with us. But we are not here to remember a historical event or mourn the victims or cheer our nation. We are here to stand in unity with all those who have been called upon to defend our values on which our nation stands."

As part of the ceremony, Technical Sgt. Jason Henke of the 157th Air Operations Group sung the National Anthem.  Master Sgt. Brian House of the 571st Air Force Band, Missouri Air National Guard, played "taps" and The St. Louis Bagpipers, a group of St. Louis County police officers, played a stirring rendition of "Amazing Grace."

Afterword, Hagler reflected on the moment.

"I'm heartened by the fact that our nation remembers that day and the sacrifices made by all of those who gave their lives and of the first-responders and the military," he said. "And I'm thankful that people still show their appreciation for those sacrifices."