MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT --
A community remembers: Cherry point community, nation commemorate 9th anniversary of Sept. 11 terror attacks
Across the country Saturday, a nation remembered the ninth anniversary of a day that has not only lived in infamy, but rocked the foundations of peace and catapulted countless service men and women toward war. The community of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., found its own way to remember.
The community commemorated the hallowed day in different ways. Members of Annunciation Parish in Havelock, N.C., held the second annual Holy Rosary Crusade, where parishioners joined for dance, song, prayer and food. Also, roughly 350 miles away from the air station, Cherry Point Marines paid tribute to one of their own.
Elements from Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 252 traveled to West Chester, Pa., to honor a former Marine in their squadron who was a victim of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Mike Horrocks served as a pilot with VMGR-252 almost 20 years ago, and to the Marines of VMGR-252, once you are a member of the squadron – you are always a member of the squadron.
Horrocks died on Sept. 11, 2001, while serving as the co-pilot of United Flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center.
More than 30 Marines from VMGR-252 conducted a flyover Saturday at the University of West Chester, Horrocks’ alma mater. Horrocks was a football legend at the university, and Saturday the university immortalized him with a statue and a scholarship in his honor.
Lt. Col. David C. Morris, the commanding officer of VMGR-252, spoke at the ceremony. Morris said VMGR-252’s role in the memorial was important to call attention to the values Horrocks held dear, values that Morris said were intrinsically reflective of his squadron.
“I talked about the example he set that still reflects on the Marines of today,” Morris said. “Dedication, answering a higher calling, teamwork. Those are the things we want to call attention to. Those are the things Mike stood for.”
While Morris and his Marines honored their own in the Philadelphia area, back in Havelock, retired gunnery sergeant Sally C. Kelley, now a civilian employee with the Cherry Point facilities directorate, led fellow parishioners at Annunciation through the rosary, fighting through tears when she referenced 9/11.
Kelley said she remembered being a career planner at Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 that fateful day nine years ago and could not believe her ears when she heard the news over the radio.
“Since I retired in January of 2002, every year on Sept. 11 I always go to church or light a candle at home and say a prayer in remembrance of the pain and suffering endured by those who lost loved ones,” Kelley said.
Morris summed up his feelings – “It is vitally important to remember. That day was the start of everything we’re doing now. It was the genesis of the war on terrorism. That day defined our squadron.”