TACOMA, Wash. — Members of the Washington National Guard were hard at work on September 11, a day recognized with somber ceremonies.
“I’m just proud to be a part of it and proud to help prevent anything like that from happening again,” said Specialist Jeffery Warner.
Warner was just 2-years-old when the nation suffered the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. Eighteen years later, he is a national guardsman with orders to deploy overseas.
“It’s what I always wanted to do, so I was pretty excited about it,” Warner said.
In the coming weeks, more than 500 Washington National Guard members will deploy to Jordan in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
They’ll work alongside Jordanian troops for one year in a joint training exercise. The deployment marks the largest troop movement for the Washington National Guard since 2009.
The battalion spent the summer training for everything from live-fire drills to IED detection, and the cultural differences they’ll likely experience in the Middle East.
“I’m used to it, [for] some of these guys it’s harder, especially those with families,” said Sgt. Matthew Rodriguez.
This will be the fourth deployment for Rodriguez. He’s a battle-tested soldier who remembers watching TV in his eighth-grade classroom when the planes struck the twin towers.
“I didn’t really know how to feel at the time. I didn’t know where the twin towers were back then. I was such a young kid that I couldn’t understand it,” Rodriguez said.
It was an attack he said motivated him to join the army. Rodriguez went on to spend 15 months deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“To want to prevent it from happening again is sort of what pushes me going forward,” Rodriguez explained.
This deployment will be different. Rather than a war zone, they’ll spend a year training alongside a foreign ally.
“To do training like this that will help prevent 9/11 from happening again, I think is absolutely great,” Rodriguez said.
The soldiers will continue this country’s mission in a world forever changed by the events of September 11, 2001.