It is hard to believe that seniors and juniors in high school are too young to remember — and many freshman and sophomore students were not even alive — when terrorists hijacked and flew three American planes into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, with a fourth brought down by brave passengers in rural Pennsylvania.
Our students today can only hear the stories of shock as millions of Americans — attempting to go about their school and work routines — watched on live television as our nation was attacked on a warm Tuesday in September. Fourteen years seems like a long time, yet when you think about our nation under attack and the images that flash before you, Sept. 11, 2001, seems like only yesterday.
It is at this time that we remember all the lives lost, looking forward to the advances our country has made and how our nation’s military must be continuously recognized for all that it does to keep us safe. This weekend, the city of Mountain Home and its chamber of commerce will be doing just that, by celebrating the men and women of the Mountain Home Air Force Base.
This base and its military families are points of pride for our state, with a tremendous economic impact. Mountain Home Air Force Base and the 366th Fighter Wing were started almost simultaneously at the end of World War II. Nationally, MHAFB has the distinction of being one of the top training grounds for our nation’s finest gunfighters, and it has played and continues to play a critical role across the world in air combat missions and our war efforts today. These men and women are in a continuous deployment rotation, ready to respond when called upon.
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MHAFB is made up of 4,680 military and civilian members, and 4,590 family members. It has a $353 million economic impact to our state, coming from payroll, contract expenditures and job creation.
As we celebrate this base, we must also remember at this time, other military branches here in Idaho.
The Farragut Navel Training Station in North Idaho was the Navy’s second-largest training facility during World War II and is still in use at Lake Pend Oreille to test large-scale submarines and surface ship prototypes. The Navy is also in Eastern Idaho at the Idaho National Laboratory. The facilities that now make up INL were the birthplace of the modern nuclear U.S. Navy, where it once provided training for 40,000 personnel in surface and submarine nuclear power operations. Today the Navy depends on INL for management of its nuclear fuels.
Gowen Field is only 17 miles from the Statehouse, which serves the Idaho Army and Air National Guards as an excellent training center and support site for reserve and active military forces, with the mission to support readiness. The men and women of Idaho’s National Guard have served us proudly through a number of deployments overseas, and like MHAFB, it too stands ready for mobilization, if called upon.
We are very fortunate to have these military branches and quality facilities stationed in Idaho.
I look forward to joining the celebration of our Air Force base in Mountain Home this weekend and celebrating the service and sacrifice of these men and women. I strongly encourage Idahoans to take a moment to commemorate Sept. 11 and the endless efforts of our military in Idaho and throughout our nation. They work diligently to protect us all.
Brad Little is the lieutenant governor of Idaho.