Region remembers 9/11

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 10:00am

    Woolwich resident and now Wiscasset Municipal Airport Manager Rick Tetrev was in his office as Bath-Brunswick Region Chamber of Commerce’s executive director Sept. 11, 2001, when wife Cecille called and told him about the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

    He and the chamber staff listened on the radio, then closed the office and went home, Tetrev said in a phone interview. On 9/11, Cecille’s sister was visiting from Texas. Together, the family watched the events in New York City, Washington, D.C. and a Pennsylvania field unfold on television. Last week, ahead of Saturday’s 20th anniversary of 9/11, Wiscasset Newspaper contacted Tetrev and others for their thoughts.

    Tetrev said a friend of his, fellow past Naval Air Station Brunswick leader David Nelson, was working at the Pentagon on 9/11. “He was very close to where the plane impacted ... He lost a lot of friends.”

    Tetrev recalled later becoming friends with Heather Penney, one of the fighter pilots who prepared to possibly take down the hijacked plane that instead crashed in Pennsylvania following passengers’ heroics.

    Tetrev said 9/11 made him realize “we are not invincible. In this day and age, I think about it, and that it could happen again, and we don’t know in what way, but, just pray that it doesn’t.”

    Maine Yankee spokesman Eric Howes, government affairs coordinator as the Wiscasset nuclear power plant was being decommissioned, was upstairs in the staff building when he heard about the planes flying into the World Trade Center.

    “Like everyone I was shocked by the news. A meeting scheduled for that afternoon with Governor (Angus) King’s office to discuss the decommissioning project status was cancelled,” Howes recalled via email.

    “Given the uncertainty of the national situation, Maine Yankee declared an Unusual Event emergency, coordinated with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and off-site law enforcement, and staffed the site’s Emergency Operations Center. By later that day,  the Maine State Police had established a roadblock on the access road to Maine Yankee and I well recall not getting home to my family until late that evening.

    “In the days that followed I remember how united we were as Americans and recall the contractors at Maine Yankee hanging a huge American flag from one of their cranes. Post 9/11, the NRC issued orders that enhanced security at operating and shutdown nuclear power plants like Maine Yankee.”

    Westport Island’s Pam Shockley was on her way to work at a Boothbay Harbor shop when she heard on the radio about the attacks. She said a daughter of the shop’s owner worked at the Pentagon. The owner reached the daughter and it turned out she was not at the Pentagon when the plane struck “or she would have been right in the midst of all that,” Shockley said in a phone interview. “We shut the shop down early and I came home.”

    Like the shop owner’s family and others nationwide, Shockley’s family members checked in with one another. “I had called my son, who called his grandmother ... Everybody was OK.”

    And like Tetrev, Shockley still thinks of 9/11. “I think about it because I don’t think we’ve learned our lesson. Twenty years later, I think people forget about it, just like they forget about Pearl Harbor, and it’s going to happen again ... my own personal opinion, if you don’t know the history and what’s happened in the past, it’s going to be repeated.”