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Paintings Capture First Moments of 9-11 Combat Air Patrols

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2002 – Sept. 11 was a day when Americans rushed to the aid of each other.

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A North Dakota National Guard F-16 fighter screams over a burning Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, in this painting by Rick Herter. The painting is now part of the Air Force Art Collection.

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New York firefighters and policemen rushed into the World Trade Center, military and civilian personnel rushed into stricken offices of the Pentagon, medical personnel in New York and Washington rushed to their duty stations.

And America's Air National Guard rushed to protect the United States against a terrorist enemy who turned passenger jets into guided missiles.

Air Force Secretary Jim Roche and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper unveiled two paintings honoring that moment at a Sept. 4 ceremony in the Pentagon. The paintings, by Rick Herter, are now a part of the Air Force Art Collection. They were sponsored by Rolls-Royce North America and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

One painting catches the moment an F-15 of the 102nd Fighter Wing, Massachusetts National Guard, arrived over the World Trade Center in New York. The other catches an F-16 of the 119th Fighter Wing, North Dakota National Guard, as it screamed over a burning Pentagon.

The pilots of the aircraft, Lt. Col. Tim Duffy of the 102nd and Maj. Dean Eckmann of the 119th, attended the unveiling.

"In those airplanes were pilots who had to contemplate doing the unthinkable. "It's what all of us are trained to do, but none of us ever thought we might have to do someday," Jumper said. "And that is, to deal with the imponderable situation of having to confront one of our own airplanes, in our own skies, filled with our own citizens."

Jumper said the paintings capture the horror and spirit of the moment.

Herter said artists, reporters and photographers have always accompanied warriors onto the battlefield to chronicle great moments in American history. "Some of us would argue as to whether this is a great moment in American history," he said. "But I believe what made it great was the response of our military that day and the courage of the firefighters, police officers and rescue personnel."

Herter said the paintings are homages to the men and women of the military who put in long hours defending America.

"Most of us go to bed each night and don't give those people a second thought," he said. "We live in a country that has been safe and secure for so long, and we have taken it for granted because our warriors are so good at what they do.

"It's very appropriate that these paintings are featured here at the Pentagon," he continued. "Because it is this building and many of the individuals in this building that bears the scars of that morning."

The paintings will hang in Corridor 9 of the Pentagon.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn F-15 fighter of the 102nd Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard, flies over the World Trade Center in this painting by Rick Herter. The painting depicts the arrival of the first combat air patrol the site of the terrorist attack Sept. 11, 2001.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force officials unveiled two paintings by artist Rick Herter Sept. 4, 2002, in the Pentagon. The art captures the arrivals of Air National Guard fighters over New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.  
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