9-11 deployment has special significance for Moline Marine

Jacob Johnson is thinking about 9-11 as he walks through the airport on Tuesday. It’s something that’s very personal for the 21-year-old Moline High graduate.

“I’m thinking that I’m just glad that I was able to sign up and defend our country,” he said. “I actually signed up today four years ago.”

On this 9-11, there are emotional moments as the Marine Corporal prepares to deploy for a second time in Operation Enduring Freedom. There’s lots of warm embraces before he sets out to deliver supplies and food so far away.

“It’s tough mentally and physically,” he said. “You’ve got to prepare yourself. You’ve got to know what you’re about to walk into. As soon as you hit the yellow footprints, it’s not the civilian world.”

Johnson’s deployment is taking place in the same airport where grounded flights from all over the country landed safely on this date 11 years ago. He was just 10 years old at the time. It became a date that changed life at the airport and also for him.

As passengers prepare for business trips of vacations, this is a much different journey. It’s one that calls back to that September day in 2001.

Johnson’s mom, Terri Johnson, listened to a patriotic tribute on the radio during their drive to the airport.

“I just had to reach out and shake his hand,” she said. “Thank him for me and for everyone else for what he’s doing, so that we’re able to do what we want, where we want and how we want.”

The Patriot Guard Riders lined a path to the plane. It made Jacob Johnson reflect about the attack on America.

“I just hope that everybody remembers that day and remembers those that we lost on that day,” he said. “Remember all the patriots that we’ve had go overseas and not make it back, and all that have gone over and made it back.”

A Marine from Moline that’s proud to serve on this unique day in American history.