According to Merriam-Webster, patriotism is a love for or devotion to one's country.
For those who work at the Pantex Plant, patriotism is also tied to the day to day mission of the work we do.
As the nation approaches Patriot Day, the memories created by the attacks on September 11, 2001 will forever be engrained in the minds and hearts of Americans, and those events forever bound the nation together in Patriotism. The memories of that day will never be forgotten, and each year the anniversary of the September 11, tragedy brings Americans together to remember the bravery of both first responders and everyday heroes.
As lasting tribute to those first responders and everyday heroes, a memorial with a connection to the 9/11 tragedy was built right here at the Pantex Plant. That connection? A piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
This steel was incorporated as part of a permanent memorial monument to those lost on 9/11 and can be found outside of the Pantex Fire Department.
“It is extremely appropriate that we place this memorial in front of the building that houses our first responders, because it serves as a symbol of our gratitude for the service they provide to this Plant,” Mark Padilla, Assistant Manager for Programs and Projects with the NNSA Production Office (NPO), said at the monument’s dedication in 2013. “It also serves as a bridge between our first responders and the first responders who gave their lives on that fateful day.”
Plans to create the monument at Pantex began in 2009 with a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requesting a piece of the World Trade Center for a memorial monument. Once onsite, the steel was cut onsite in Pantex’s Machine Shop.
“It is important that we can visually see something tangible and realize that what we do at Pantex is important to our freedom and the American way of life,” said Donovan Morgan, retired Pantex Fire Department battalion chief, who spearheaded the memorial initiative.
Craft Supervisor and member of the Navy Reserve John Herrera oversaw work done on the steel in the Machine Shop. “I revere the World Trade Center steel just as I would a piece of steel from the USS Arizona,” he said. “On the USS Arizona, we had military personnel from the Navy and the Marines die on board when it sank. At the World Trade Center, we had civilians die from the deliberate attack.”
“During the attack at Pearl Harbor, the sleeping giant awoke,” said Herrera. “During the attack at WTC, it united all fellow Americans, both civilians and serviceman, as brothers and sisters. It changed the way we live and made us more aware of the existence of terrorism around the world. As I walk past the WTC memorial, I will remember the civilians that died on that day and the dark moments this nation has endured.”
In addition to the monument in front of the Pantex Fire Department, two other pieces of steel from the World Trade Center are on display at the NNSA Production Office onsite at the Pantex Plant and at the Pantex Visitor Center.
Each of these monuments and displays is a permanent reminder of the lives lost on September 11, 2001, and the patriotism of all Pantexans and the roles we play in national security.
Below are the reflections and remembrances on September 11, 2001, from some of Pantex’s first responders.
On September 11, 2001, my wife and I were on our way to the Chicago O’Hare International Airport returning home from vacation. On our way to the airport we heard the gut-wrenching news that the Towers had been struck and that the United States was under attack. After returning home and to work as a firefighter, I noticed that the relationship between the public and their local firefighters had grown in response to the 343 brave firefighters that lost their lives while trying to save others.
— Jamie Hall, Firefighter, Pantex Fire Department
On the day that the Twin Towers fell, I was eating breakfast with my pregnant wife and baby boy. As I looked into my son eyes, I couldn’t help but consider the many children waiting at the door for a parent who would never return. I watched as Fire, Police and EMS freely gave their lives in service to others. On that day, we were a nation that lost its innocent but renewed its allegiance. Out of the rubble a nation was forged, once again we became the “United” States of America.
— Joshua Brown, Captain, Pantex Fire Department
The Pantex Fire Department was completing daily readiness checks of apparatus, communication equipment, and personal protective equipment. I was in the department’s training room when a firefighter came and said an aircraft crashed into a New York skyscraper. It was a very hard and traumatic day for America. America and the world lost many precious lives that day, and continue to lose 1st responders and civilians today due to the contamination and exposures they encountered during the response and cleanup endeavor.
— Bill Ho Gland, Assistant Chief, Support, Pantex Fire Department
I think it hit the members of the firefighter brotherhood harder than most can imagine because when we watched those towers fall, we knew that there would be several firefighters killed and we felt the pain of loss personally. I have spent a lifetime caring about the well being of people I do not know, and that was what those 343 brave souls were doing that fateful day.
— Tony Dompe, Battalion Chief, Pantex Fire Department
How easily our lives can be taken from us. I will always remember that a lot of people died that day, and I will never forget that 343 firefighters died that day.
— Steve Lasher, Firefighter/Paramedic, Pantex Fire Department
In the aftermath, people from all aspects of life, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation, reached out to support those in need with complete disregard for their own safety. It was truly a remarkable example of the spirit and devotion of all Americans.
— Jeremy Baker, Paramedic, Pantex Fire Department
What I most remember about that day is the feeling of helplessness. As a first responder, it is the hardest thing in the world not to help when help is needed. I guess we all helped in our own way by ensuring we fulfilled our firefighter responsibilities at home.
— Timothy Hunter, A Shift Battalion Chief, Pantex Fire Department
Members of the Pantex Honor Guard visited Y-12 in June to train their fellow firefighters.
“We received approval to form an honor guard, and we decided who better to train us than our fellow coworkers,” Y-12 Assistant Fire Chief Mari-Kaye Monday said. “Pantex’s Honor Guard was established in 2011.”
Three Pantex members conducted a week of training with the 10 members of the newly formed Y-12 Fire Department Honor Guard.
“We wanted to ensure we were ready to serve as a color guard or perform a variety of events, such as opening ceremonies, parades, and funeral services for fallen fire and emergency services members,” she said.
Monday said their team has worked for years to establish an honor guard within the Y-12 Fire Department. “It is the mission of the fire service honor guard to exemplify honor, respect, and dignity while embracing fire service tradition. We’re continuing the pursuit of excellence by establishing the honor guard, and the Y-12 Fire Department is striving to exhibit pride, professionalism, and teamwork to represent CNS.”
Hi everyone, my name is Madeleine Thornley and I am working at Pantex this summer as the wildlife intern in the Environmental Compliance Department. I recently graduated this May from Texas Tech University with a degree in Natural Resources Management and I am pursuing a career researching wildlife and ecology. Pantex conducts quite a few research projects closely with Texas Tech, so I heard about the work while I was a student there. I was drawn to apply to this internship position because of the heavy research focus and the good things that I had heard about Pantex. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn from Jim Ray, a Wildlife Biologist and Monty Schoenhals, an Agronomist who care about outreach, research, and helping young professionals gain expertise.
Throughout my time at Tech, I served as an officer for the Texas Tech Chapter of the Wildlife Society and I worked in a research lab focused on birds of prey. I’ve conducted research projects on the food habits of North America’s smallest falcon, the American Kestrel, and urban water birds like herons and egrets in urban lakes of Lubbock, Texas. Before this summer, I had spent previous field seasons doing field technician work researching avian and vegetation responses to thinning pinyon-juniper woodlands in New Mexico, diseases and parasites in Lesser Prairie Chickens in the panhandle of Texas, and the ecology of nesting American Kestrels in the Llano Estacado of Texas. Outside of my past jobs, I’ve also spent time volunteering on research projects throughout West Texas, so I have had the opportunity to work with quite a few species and gain diverse field skills.
What I am looking forward to most this summer is my research project on milkweed, and pollinators like the Monarch Butterfly. Pantex has been conducting research on milkweeds for the last few years by conducting surveys for the plants and assessing Monarch Butterfly presence in the forms of both the larval and adult forms. Assessing characteristics of the plant and butterfly use will allow us to answer important questions for pollinators in the region. Pollinators are experiencing a steady decline, so this research is vital. Some other projects that I will be involved with this summer include: helping with a current long-term Purple Martin project, conducting surveys for birds and Texas Horned Lizards, and assisting Pantex’s research on the large Burrowing Owl population at the plant.
This job is going to be vastly different than that of any others that I have worked - almost all of my experiences are from the research side of things, but this summer I will be learning a lot about the management side of things as well. The Environmental Compliance Department plays a big role in the important work conducted at the Pantex Plant, and I am excited to be gaining insight into what their day-to-day life consists of, and the challenges that they face.
Madeleine Thornley holding a female American Kestrel while working for a Texas Tech graduate student. (Note: Texas Tech University possessed proper state and federal permits for handling this species for research purposes.)
Pantexan Bruce Phebus with HE Materials and Testing recently presented a demonstration on the Phases of Matter to children at the Canyon Library.
Bruce talked with the children about how gasses expand and cool, the components of air, and how clouds form.
He performed demonstrations such as balloons in the vacuum chamber, the Franklin cup, and touchable clouds for the children whose average age was around 5 years old.
“I think science demos are important because science shouldn’t be abstract. It should be something people and kids realize is a real job and it explains the world,” Bruce said. “I think science without seeing scientists in person and demos is like watching water polo from the Sahara. Any given kid can’t even imagine the pool let alone someone playing in it.”
He said doing these types of demos makes science relevant for children, and explains the world that children touch and see every day.
“It isn’t just ‘facts’ in a book that are untestable and unverifiable on their own, things they just need to accept,” Bruce said. “The key tenant of science is trust but verify! Learn it all for yourself!”
Kimbel Leffew with Pantex Contractor Assurance is a member of the Human Performance Improvement Working Group team that was awarded the HPI Team Award by the Energy Facilities Contractor Operating Group at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Chris Clark, Leffew’s manager, said, “As a fairly new manager in the Contractor Assurance organization, Kimbel has been a quick study of the complex processes and tools we use. With her outstanding contacts across the nuclear enterprise, she reaches out on a regular basis to benchmark other organizations as well as offer benchmark-quality ideas emanating from our two plants.”
Leffew and Chuck Ramsey (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) accepted the award on behalf of their team. The team was recognized for exceptional performance by a group who was instrumental in addressing a key EFCOG issue. The HPI Working Group turned around its team and provided members products that add value, such as a template for building an HPI strategic plan, an HPI business plan, and HPI assessment tools.
This award also recognizes the team’s contributions to the design and implementation of the HPI curriculum with the creation of the HPI Fundamentals and HPI Lead Practitioner Training Courses under the Performance and Reliability Program in DOE.
Kimbel Leffew, Pantex Contractor Assurance, and Chuck Ramsey, ORNL, accept the Human Performance Improvement Team Award from the EFCOG Safety Chair John McDonald. Team members not pictured include: Patricia Allen (Savannah River Remediation), Mike Petrowski (Los Alamos National Laboratory), and Lloyd Keith (Washington River Protection Solution).