On the morning of September 11, 2001, a duty officer from the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard, called a contact at the Secret Service to see if the attacks in New York had created any airspace restrictions. Moments later, the Secret Service called with instructions from the White House to get the F-16s in the air. The Pentagon had just been hit, and the White House knew another airliner—United Flight 93—had been hijacked.
After a call with the White House operations center, the 113th Wing commander issued a scramble order to set up a combat air patrol over D.C. and deter all aircraft within 20 miles with “whatever force is necessary… to keep from hitting a building downtown.”
As the first F-16 crew returned due to fuel, the next crew went out. There was no time to arm them with missiles, so each fighter went out with only 500 training bullets—just enough for a five-second burst. At the time, they believed that there may be more hostile aircraft. Each committed to doing whatever necessary to stop any hostile aircraft they encountered—up to and including ramming the airliner. By this point, fighters from Langley and the fighters from the D.C. National Guard were put in contact with each other. Flight 93 was no longer a threat, but the two units worked together to escort aircraft out of the airspace.
Meanwhile, with little more information than several people at the Pentagon were dead and several more injured, D.C. Army National Guard helicopter pilots were launched from Davison Army Airfield to the site of the attack on the Pentagon. They began ferrying casualties to Walter Reed and medical personnel back to the Pentagon.
In the days after September 11, 600 Soldiers from the D.C. Army National Guard were mobilized around the city, including the Capitol building. The Mobilization Augmentation Command reported to duty immediately, becoming the first National Guard unit mobilized for the Global War on Terror.
The support was only beginning on 9/11. D.C. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen served stateside providing security at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Joint Base Andrews and the Pentagon.
We are the Capital Guardians: Always Ready, Always Relevant!