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Interview with Maj.

Dan Nash, 102nd Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard


Conducted by Leslie Filson, Oct. 2, 2002

Maj. Dan Nash, 102 FW, flying F-15s since 1996

Q: WHAT WAS SEQUENCE OF EVENTS ON SEPT. 11,2001?

A: On 9.11, we got a Call at operations; the FAA had called the tower. Lt. Col. Duffy directed it to
command post and the story I heard was that somebody called looking for # for NEADS and that there was
a possible hijacking

Got dressed and started going toward the jets

We got the first call about the possible hijacking at 8:37 a.m.

Started out to the jets and sometime thereafter, alarm went off for battle stations

As soon as we got strapped in, got scramble light - (told to scramble)

Took off on runway 5 and proceeded on heading and altitude that command post got from NEADS
Climbed up to 29,000 feet toward New York

Proceeded toward NY, we knew we were trying to intercept American 11 but hadn't heard anything about
other airplanes

We got airborne within like three or four minutes

NEADS controller told them on the radio that a second one had hit but still under impression American 11
was still airborne (we were shocked because we didn't know the first one had even hit)
Didn't know American 11 had hit the building
By the time we were 100 miles out we could see the smoke from the fire

WERE YOU FLYING AS FAST AS POSSIBLE TO GET THERE?

Yes, but to be honest, I didn't know why we were going fast because we hadn't been told anything critical
was going on, but we went as fast as the airplanes could go
Day to day scrambles are usually a false alarm so when we heard it was a possible hijacking we knew it
was more serious
Usually get scrambled on fish spotters, doctors getting lost
When we heard it was a possible hijacking, Lt. Col. Duffy wanted to go supersonic; NEADS just gave us
altitude and heading to fly
We kept flying toward it to see what was s going on
They gave us clearance over NY immediately.
Went to whiskey 105 training space - our normal training space
Sometime after that, NORAD took control of airspace and we did one circle in Whiskey 105 and told them
we would cap over Manhattan

And from there we spent the rest of the day directing planes away that weren't helping

HOW LONG WAS THE MISSION THAT DAY?


Took off before 9 and landed at a quarter after two at Otis

YOU MUST HAVE HAD A TANKER TO REFUEL?

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Had a tanker from Maine that was'scheduled to refuel the training mission and he pretty much stayed over
the water and over Kennedy
Kept one F15 over Manhattan - other one would go intercept small airplanes and helicopters or go get gas
when we needed to
Normally stay in pairs but we kept one F15 over Manhattan the whole time just in case
When the first tower collapsed we were headed away from Manhattan over Kennedy and when we turned
around there was a bunch of dust and debris
With the second one, we were over New York at 10,000 feet

HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU SAW THE TOWERS COLLAPSE?

It was disbelief. Shock.

Civilian controller told us of similar problems down in Washington

We were pretty busy doing what we were doing, it wasn't like we had a lot of time to ponder what else was
going on, we were just trying to make sure it didn't happen anymore that day over New York

After a couple hours, two more F15s from Otis came and joined us; we capped around 10,000 feet and they
stayed higher, around 18,000 feet
10,000 feet was dictated - we were flying as low as we needed to

as for other planes out there ... some people were curious and wanted to take a look for themselves, news
helicopters, etc.
we would direct them away if they looked to not be a rescue helicopter
we had to make sure they were friendly
wanted to keep everything away and mostly make sure everybody who was flying around there had
business doing it - it would become congested and we got closer to helicopters than we normally would

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU GOT BACK TO BASE?

Got back to Otis, a bunch of people telling us what was going on


A crew chief told me F 16s had shot down airliners over Pennsylvania., obviously that wasn't true, so there
were lots of rumors floating around.
Had to go to intelligence shop and tell them what we'd done, lots of rumors about other hijacked airplanes

A lot of security on ramp as airplanes being loaded w/live weapons


We usually keep 3 or 4 on alert totally armed, but had to arm other airplanes

AND WHEN YOU GOT HOME?

Like everybody, I watched the news until I had to go to bed and get up and fly the next day and the next
day I capped over Boston

Never thought I'd do CAPS over my own country

We were doing CAPS 24/7 split w/Syracuse. we did 12 and they did 12 and split them up every 4 hours

Had to generate so many jets to do that, that's why we shared duty w/Syracuse

HOW DID IT AFFECT TRAINING?

We weren't as sharp as we'd normally be - flying caps is mind-numbing, obviously I'm glad nothing else
happened, but flying CAPS is mostly boredom

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A YEAR HAS PASSED ... HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHAT YOU SAW?

It's mostly disbelief, my kids are pretty young, so we didn't really have to talk about it, but obviously w/the
caps it seems like we were working a lot more

I'm full-time at the wing

Still do random caps but mostly training getting ready for whatever

"We did everything we could but unfortunately couldn't stop anything... even if we'd been scrambled 15
min. earlier and were following the airplane, I'm 99 percent sure we would have watched the airplanes
crash into the towers." Because we had no orders to do so, this was not part of the rules at that point in time
and we didn't know the planes were hijacked for sure

A civilian controller told us we could shoot down, (but never got that order from HEADS)

We scrambled twice on suspected hijackings since then that turned out to be not hijackings

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