By Vee Glessner
Beginning at midnight on Sept. 10 and ending at midnight on Sept. 11, Arnold Air Society (AAS) members ran the American and Prisoners of War/Missing in Action flags around the perimeter of campus for 24 hours straight. This event honors those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“The event was meant to commemorate and honor those brave people who sacrificed their lives in the 9/11 attack,” according to Sarah Borjeilly, sophomore and financial management officer of the squadron. “To us as cadets and members of the Steven M. Scherp squadron, this event allowed us to take a moment of our time to remember and think about those lives. The attack on the World Trade Center changed this country forever, and it should never be forgotten.”
Almost 3,000 people were killed by the four attacks between 19 militants on the tragic day. Extremists associated with al-Qaeda hijacked four planes, two of which infamously impacted the New York Twin Towers. The third targeted the Washington, D.C. Pentagon and the last landed in a field in Pennsylvania.
The squadron signed up its members and anyone else who wanted to run in 30-minute increments. Over the course of 24 hours over 60 people ran.
Even those who are not in AAS ran to memorialize the tragedy. “It is not a role, but an honor to run for those who fell today, 17 years ago, an honor that no one should take for granted or complain about. Running with a sprained ankle may have hurt, but I just remind myself it probably would hurt a hell of a lot more to lose life, family, and faith,” said Niki Powell, who volunteered to run.
This isn’t the only time AAS honors the fallen. They make it a point to take time on a regular basis to memorialize those who came before them. “The Steven M. Scherp Squadron implements commemorating those who have lost their lives in the line of duty into our weekly trainings to pay our respects,” said Borjeilly.
Across the board, those who have joined AAS have had overwhelmingly positive experiences. “Arnold Air society uses an intensive, structured training environment to cement leadership skills and a sense of family among each class it trains. True, some have called it a ‘cult’, but this is a shallow view that does not delve deeper into the meaning of the trainings,” said Isa LoPiccolo-Kleine, addressing a commonly held viewpoint across campus.
Because the candidate introduction is an 11-week intensive program that often involves training at night, in harsh weather, and at high volumes, many outside the organization feel that AAS is extreme, while those inside feel it pushed them to their limits physically and mentally. More than that, each class of trainees feels like a family.
LoPiccolo-Kleine continues, “As an incoming freshman into college I wanted to find a place where I could fit in and have friends. To do this I joined Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. I joined Arnold Air Society because I wanted to find a family that I could depend on. While going through candidate training I found some of my best friends, people who I would do anything for, and people I could depend on.”
Pictures here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/5FTZXwFZtZhfCdmq5