PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania State Trooper Jeffrey Brock knows exactly what he was doing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We just started our transport back to Somerset County and heard that a plane went down,” said Trooper Brock, who was returning to Somerset County from Fayette County that morning. “It is one of those vivid things.”
It wasn’t long before he made it to the field in Shanksville, and he and other state troopers started setting up a command post and a perimeter. That would be beginning of a weekslong assignment for Trooper Brock at the Flight 93 crash site.
Now 19 years later, he’s found a way to make sure no one forgets the fateful day in the fabric of our nation’s history, for many didn’t experience it like he did.
“You take a deep breath, and you just realize,” Trooper Brock recalls, “'My gosh, what is this the beginning of, and how could this happen?'”
Trooper Brock is the Director of the Camp Cadet of Somerset County. It’s a leadership camp for kids to learn about the state olice. Ten months after 9/11, he started taking his campers to the crash site, sharing memories of the moment he first stepped foot there the day of the crash.
“It really was hard to believe when they told us what kind of plane went down. Where did it go?” said Trooper Brock. “You really didn’t know what to feel.”
“I remember farmers driving up on tractors, handing out boxes of tomatoes saying I don’t have anything else to give you, but I feel I need to participate,” Trooper Brock recalls. “That gets to you. That still evokes emotion. That people were just wanting to help. And it was awesome to see.”
He even brought the campers down to the debris field before it became the Flight 93 National Memorial. He says they continued to find evidence year after year.
“You’re able to give them a perspective of what you did that day,” said Trooper Brock. “That’s how we keep that alive. The kids really get a special moment there. Not everybody gets that. We ask them, ‘what was your favorite part of Camp Cadet?’, and a lot of them say it was Flight 93.”
Channel 11 also spoke to retired FBI Agent Mike Soohy, who was on his way back to his Pittsburgh office from Somerset County when he heard about the crash, and that it was likely connected to the crash at ground zero.
“So we turned around, and we drove to the Somerset Police barracks,” said Soohy.
“It smelled very strongly of jet fuel. And at that point, we walked over to where the impact site was and you could tell that the plane had basically been swallowed up by the ground,” said Soohy.
He quickly got to interviewing people who witnessed the crash.
“They recalled hearing the plane first and then seeing it fly over them and they described it as almost being upside down.”
Like many first responders, Soohy spent a week and a half at the crash site as part of the Pittsburgh FBI management team in charge of logistics. He says the cooperation between all law enforcement agencies was almost flawless.
When he stops to think back on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks, “the first thing I bring up are the passengers. They were heroes.”
Soohy also wants the community members who stepped up to help first responders to be recognized.
“I’ve never seen so many flags, so many people thanking me for being in law enforcement, thanking me for doing what I did in Shanksville, and it felt really good.”
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