May the souls of all those murdered that day find eternal peace through Christ our Lord. Amen
Ad Jesum per Mariam.
Amen, and also those who died *because* of that day.
I was fortunate enough to be in Crystal City that day instead of my office in the Pentagon which was ground zero for the attack. As I drove by, I was horrified to see the damage and feared that all of my shipmates were gone. And while many did perish, we were fortunate that many of us were out of the office on that day.
I remember getting a phone call from one of my friends and hearing his voice made me cry tears of joy that at least he survived. But in many ways, he “died” that day. Haunted by survivor’s guilt even to this day, he lost his marriage as he attempted to work even harder and take the most demanding assignments because our friends, now gone, would never get that opportunity.
Excerpt from December 2001 issue of Washingtonian Magazine.
THE PUNCHES FAMILY LEARNED September 21 that Jack’s remains had been identified. Navy officials could not say where he was found.
Almost 400 people attended a memorial service for him on October 7, 2001.
Punches had retired from active duty last year. He had wanted to serve four more years, to reach 30, but the Navy planned to send him again to the Persian Gulf, and he wouldn’t uproot his family or leave them behind. So he retired instead, then returned to his old office six months later, this time as a civilian employee.
At Punches’ retirement ceremony, junior officers from the command center had presented the captain with the “Order of the Palm,” a replica of the medal, shaped like a palm tree, given to Henry Fonda by sailors in the film classic Mr. Roberts. Like Fonda’s character, who had tossed his captain’s prized palm tree overboard for mistreating the crew, Punches had always been there fighting for them.
Along with the metal palm tree, hung from gaudy ribbon, was an Order of the Palm certificate that read: “To Capt. Jack E. Punches. For action against the enemy, above and beyond the call of duty.”
A video of that ceremony shows Punches pinning on the palm below his rows of service ribbons and a roomful of sailors answering the gesture with a standing ovation. Then Jack Punches said farewell.
“Today reminds me,” he said, “of an epitaph on Boot Hill which reads, ‘I was expecting this, but not so soon.’ The time has come, much sooner than I expected or even wanted it. . . .
“Before I ask the admiral’s permission to go ashore, I want every one of you to understand”–he paused, his voice choked with emotion–“that I have loved this uniform, the Navy, the nation. And there has not been a single day that I was not proud to put this uniform on and serve with the best and brightest this nation has to offer.”