4th Stryker Brigade soldiers observe somber anniversary

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Remembering 9/11 is especially important for those who answered the call to join the fight against terrorism.

On Wednesday, Joint Base Lewis-McChord hosted a welcome-home ceremony for the 4th Stryker Brigade, which just got back after spending nine months in Afghanistan.

The un-casing of the colors was the symbolic signal that the 4,000 soldiers have returned, and it was done on the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The somber anniversary had special meaning for the returning soldiers, as many of them signed on just because of that fateful day.

"I'll never forget the day. I really won't," said 1st Lt. Carson Homme.

A Kennewick native, Homme decided to go to West Point because of 9/11.

"We saw Americans were dying. It called to me. I'm not that kind of person who can sit back," he said.

Wednesday's festivities were meant to honor those who lost their lives in the attacks, and those who lost their lives responding to the attacks. The names of 64 members of the 4th Stryker Brigade who were killed were honored.

Sgt. Cory Endlich's parents and girlfriend came for the re-dedication of the 4th Stryker Brigade Memorial Park. His mother Cathi said Cory enlisted because of what happened 12 years ago.

"After 9/11 you couldn't stop him," she said.

And it's not just the young who felt compelled to help. Retired Brig. General Oscar Hilman stayed in to lead the National Guard's 1st Brigade into Iraq.

"I owe a lot to America. I came here when I was 16," said Hilman, who is originally from the Philippines.

Army commanders say they needed a big build up of forces to take on two wars, and they found a more-than-willing group of soldiers eager to answer what they considered a patriotic call in the wake of the September 11th attacks.