Fil-Am veterans look back on 9/11

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Sept. 11, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – 9/11 will always be remembered in a different way for the nation’s military veterans.

The attacks on that day served as a catalyst to their combat deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In San Francisco, some Filipino veterans look back on how September 11, 2001 impacted their lives.

Tristan Tomas was 16-years-old and living in the Philippines on the day the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. 9/11 played a big role in his decision to enlist in the Navy and he was eventually deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.

“I believed that people shouldn’t be experiencing that kind of experience, so when I found out that I was going to the United States, my first plan was to join the military,” said Tomas, “To join a group that was bigger than me.”

Tomas remembers September 11 by trying to serve fellow veterans in need.

“Nowadays every time 9/11 comes around I see these volunteer things where you help out homeless veterans, feed them,” said Tomas. “I try to volunteer as much as I could.”

Filipino Marine Corps veteran Staff Sgt. Michael Juan was getting ready for school that morning of the terror attacks.

Juan already knew he was joining the military after high school and the attacks fueled further his ambition to serve in the armed forces.

“I was definitely motivation,” said the Filipino veteran, “And really, I had in the back of mind of other people who didn’t make it out alive of the towers that day. It’s symbolic of service and sacrifice they made, so I wanted to make my own sacrifice and serve our country.”

Juan says 9.11 was the main reason why he ended up being deployed to Iraq in 2005.

“It was like a domino effect,” he said. “All it took was one event to lead to the multiple events. We started in Afghanistan and we eventually led to Iraq.”

Concerning the latest threats of ISIS, these Filipino veterans say they are not surprised that the U.S. is taking an active role in countering the terrorist group.

“I think the president is handling it as the situation is,” said Tristan Tomas. “As tricky it is at the moment, his administration is doing what they thing is right and I fully support what he is doing.”

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