We Remember…

September 11, 2007

14 Comments

  1. Claudio

    CNO IP (Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot) friends and coworkers

    CDR Dan Shanower. OIC good guy. wish I knew him better

    LCDR Vince Tolbert. AOIC Great guy. Loved his kids. One evening, late, I called him at home to tell him I just woke up the RSO at some farflung corner of the world re a piece of intel that could save his bacon. Vince put me on hold cause his 2 year old was using the potty. As a dad now, I understand.

    LT Jonas Panik. Briefer. Years ago, when he was a VP AI, I was part of WTU going around teaching Strike Planing and Briefing for a new weapon. First time I saw him, I called him “tiny”. What an understatement. Great guy, great friend, great INTELO and briefer.

    LT Darrin Pontel. Briefer in training. Knew him a while too. He took over for me as CVW-7 SIAC and Strike Intel Officer on the boat. Sharp kid. His family also lost his older brother in the navy while undergoing Flight Training on the Lady Lex years ago. They gave a lot.

    Angie Houtz – Senior Naval Analyst. ONI. She loved the Navy more than most sailors. Brilliant Analyst. She just got back from a week underway on a small boy in Mayport. I saw her as she was heading in while I was taking a smoke break between the rings. She said she had so much to tell me about her trip, and she loved it.

    Jerry Moran- Retired Sailor, took care of our VTC equipment and kept us out of trouble. The first 10 minutes of each shift were reserved for him to tell me about his kids and the previous nights game, be it softball, basketball, soccer, what ever. He loved them and was very proud of them. Next 10 minutes were for coffee and the paper. then work.

    Brady Howell. Presidential Intern doing his tour with OPNAV. really sharp, really smart guy who likely would have made a ton of money in civland, but we were trying to convince him to join SECNAV. He was finishing up the night shift with me. Trained and passed his board as an IPWO (IP Watch Officer). He stuck around for the morning hotwash, I didn’t. Brady was a Mormon. Had some great fun discussions about religion (as a lapsed catholic myself). He’d try to tell me why Brigham Young picked Utah (I thought Washington or Oregon much nicer states) and I’d also ask if cafeine was not “kosher” in coffee, tea, etc, why was he sucking down Mountain Dews like it was going out of style. Definitely made those long nights go by faster.

    Those were my friends and pals.

    the night before, since it was slow, Jonas, Darrin and I sat around with Cindy L and ate homemade muffins. We were really digging our new “digs”, much better than the 6th corridor hole we left. Much farther more steps to the briefs, but sooooo much nicer. Plus N3/N5 and NAVYOPS was right next door. Easier to pop in and out. we discussed what sucked about the navy and how we could fix it. Basically bitching sailor/happy sailor stuff. Especially in CV intel since both Darrin and I came up that route. By about 3 am we decided that we’d all get out of the navy, write some good programs and procedures that did what we needed vs what some retired admiral convinced his classmates and buddies to buy and make the navy better and get rich at the same time. By 3 we also decided that the bosses would be in in about an hour so we better get to work and get done in an hour what we’d convince them took us all night. (It was slow). Well, morning came and went, the briefs were uneventful. Since it was a slow day, I wasn’t feeling 100%, I asked CDR S if OK to skip Hotwash. He rogered and I took off.

    Got to my basement apt/bedroom in Chantily (geobach pad) and saw the NY stuf At about 930, called CDR S and told him I was still in Khakis, I can come right back. He said get some shuteye, I’ll see you at noon. As soon as I hung up the phone, tv reported a carbomb at the Pentagon. I grabbed both cell and homephone and started dialing. no answer to any numbers, office or cells. Shari, Vinces wife answered his cell phone. I assured her that they were all OK, we were in an internal ring, sure they were all okay, just phones down. I was still convinced of that. Both Vince and Jonas played college ball. Between the two of them, they could run through the metal stud walls in the new section if they needed to. I believed that till later that day when it became apparent that they couldn’t. 4 people in IP made it out. They tried but couldn’t make it to the conference room where the others were meeting because of the fire.

    Got in my car and headed to Suitlant, the HQ for ONI, Office of Naval Operations. Got there at around noon or so, by 2 we had IP working again with a watchfloor and everything. Spent the rest of the day getting everything set up, trying to locate our friends and talking to their families. By evening, RADM Porterfield the DNI (Director of Naval Intelligence) and a group starte making house calls.

    Tell you when it really struck me that life as we know it was never gonna be the same. At about 2 am, I snuck out back of ONI to smoke (I know bad habit). For those of you who have been in DC, there are planes in the sky 24/7. If not passanger, then FEDEX or private. Well, at 2 am, not a plane in the sky. clear sky, not a blinking light. Then I hear 2 birds go into burner at Andrews, and hear them take off and then watch them set up a CAP (Combat Air Patrol) over DC. I’ve had CAPs over the carrier in the bad spots, but seing CAP over DC, with nothing else flying, really really set in that “were not in Kansas anymore”

    Sorry so long. Miss my friends, especially today.

    More about IP and the ones we lost that day
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A2845-2002Jan18

  2. Thanks for the post, good job.

    Claudio – Great comment. Thank you.

  3. Steeljawscribe

    Claudio:

    Excellent post — I well remember Vince and Dan as we usually sat together for the N3N5 morning briefs, especially when they were given in Keating’s office up in the old spaces. Check your email, have an idea I pitched your way for the coming year…

    – SJS

  4. Ryan

    Steeljawscribe, excellent blog you’re running here. It’s added to my favorites, and I’m sure I’ll be passing it to all my co-workers.

    Claudio, that’s an outstanding post. I don’t know if you remember me? I was the IS2 from VP-92 at the 2004 VP-30 Intel conference. LCDR Tolbert was my DIVO on the Connie. He was a great man, and that crap eating grin of his will be forever etched into my mind.

    I just found out yesterday that a high school classmate was an IED victim in August. It re-opened some of the pain in hearing of LCDR Tolbert’s passing. War sucks.

  5. Martina Stanley

    Claudio, love the story. I am Jonas’ little sister. I always wondered what Jonas’ last night was like. Was he Happy? ect. I miss him so much. Did he ever mention me? When he passed we only had one child(Andrew Jonas) now my husband and I have 3 others. 3 boys and 1 girl! My oldest is just like Jonas, he is in every sport that he can sign up for and i have a list of all area open gym times on the family white board. And this kid is only 8.
    If you have any other stories to share please contact me, It always help to hear about Jonas. It slowly fills the empty spot left in our hearts.

  6. claudio

    SJS,

    sent you email, please forward to Martina.

    Thank you

    Claudio

  7. Martina Stanley

    here is my email
    martina.stanley@scotts.com

  8. please, can you tell me what is the name of song in this video? I really like it. thanks

  9. Steeljawscribe

    Michaela:

    The music is Enya’s “Lothlórien” from her album Shepherd Moons.
    – SJS

  10. thanks for your answer. the song really fit to this video. it is more sad.

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