9-11 An American Tragedy

Brookfield pilot was ordered to defend country on 9/11

CREATED Sep 9, 2011

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BROOKFIELD- A Wisconsin man is sharing his experiences of being a fighter pilot scrambled to Washington, D.C moments after the attack on the pentagon.  His orders - shoot down any plane including commercial airline jets that may pose a threat of another suicide attack. 

As he raced across the skies to D-C - in the back of his mind he knew he may have to shoot down a plane.  But what he didn't know was that the attacks of 9/11 would hit close to home and somebody he knew very well would be in harm's way.

Jim "Fang" Maroney straps himself in and gives thumbs - seconds later he is soaring high above the Waukesha airport.  Maroney is practicing his skills for an upcoming air show.  Maroney is a retired fighter jet pilot and was rated #1 in his top gun class.

"I had a passion for that kind of flying - also dog fighting you want to be the best of the best".

Those skills would be put to the ultimate test many years later when America would come under attack by a group of terrorists.

Rob Koebel:  "Did you ever think that a commercial airline jet would be used as a weapon against America?"
Jim "Fang" Maroney: "No, no - it caught me off guard and I think it caught most people off guard."

Maroney remembers the attacks like it was yesterday. 

"I was in briefing and the intelligence officer came in - your flights canceled.  Quick come into the intel vault and I will show you what's going on".  We watched in horror like everybody else".

Emergency Dispatcher:  "Ok - any unit responding to the area of the Pentagon advise on Ch. 1 please."

The Pentagon, towers one and two at the World Trade Center in New York were under attack. Maroney and his crew prepared to be called into action.

"We went on alert status - they down loaded the practice ordinances off our jets and put the combat load on - and then we were waiting for the order".

Maroney would be sent to Washington, D.C to defend the nation's capital with orders to shoot down any other planes that might pose a threat of another attack.

"Our mission all of a sudden now instead of to shoot down an enemy plane which we had trained our entire life for - all of us were trying to figure out what we will have to do if we have to shoot down an airliner".

Rob Koebel:   "Was that the greatest fear of everybody?  To shoot down a commercial airliner? "
Jim "Fang" Maroney:  "I think so because it would be full of Americans and we realize the mission would be to stop collateral damage but on the other hand you know that airplanes would be full of Americans that was difficult to deal with".

Maroney joined the air patrols over D.C.  by working in 5 and 6 hour missions.

"You had a lot of time to look at Washington, D.C, and the Pentagon which was still burning and think about what happened to our country and how we were going to deal with it".

But what Maroney didn't know was the attack would become personal.   American Airlines Flight #11 that was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center was piloted by his friend John Ogonowski.  They both went through flight school together.

"His family's loss - my loss and the thousand of others who lost their lives.  Yea it was really personal because I have a face now".

Maroney ended up extending his tour of duty by a year after the attacks to help defend the country.  He retired from the military after that mission.