"Remember the mission"

Discussion in 'VMBB General Discussion' started by inplanotx, Mar 8, 2003.

  1. inplanotx

    inplanotx Active Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    *VMBB Staff*
    Posts: 673
    (2/19/02 10:48:37 am)
    "Remember the mission"
    I really liked this article... so... I'm sharin'!!!!

    'Remember the mission,' WTC attack survivor tells son guarding detainees

    By Sandra Jontz, Stars and Stripes
    Pacific edition, Tuesday, February 19, 2002

    Marine Sgt. Randy Tulepan protects the same men the U.S. government believes masterminded, plotted, had knowledge of or supported the terrorist attack that nearly killed his father.

    It’s his job. And it’s not easy.

    "Yeah, I’m protecting the same people who might have been responsible," he said during a telephone interview from U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

    "But this is the way I feel about that: On one level, personal vengeance would be nice. But the overall benefit is that it is better to keep the prisoners safe so we can get some intelligence," said the 21-year-old, who provides security at Camp X-Ray, where 300 prisoners from the conflict in Afghanistan are detained.

    "We need to learn everything we can learn from them about terrorist networks and operations. Nothing would be served by us going in and beating them to death, one by one."

    His father, Craig Tulepan, was on the 63rd floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when American Airlines Flight 11 plowed into the North Tower at 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11. Randy was across the Pacific Ocean, stationed on Okinawa.

    Amid the fire and turmoil, the father struggled to survive while the son slept — 7,615 miles and more than 10 hours away, oblivious to the events unfolding back home.

    Fear of the unknown

    Shortly after 10 p.m. Okinawa time, a friend knocked on Randy’s barracks door. The World Trade Center had been attacked — twice. The guys downstairs were in a fit about the country going to war. Randy blew him off. The kid knocked again. He wasn’t kidding.

    Groggily, Randy went to the crowded entertainment room, where edgy Marines, restricted to the barracks because of a typhoon, watched television in amazement, disgust and fear. His father had just started a job in the financial district of the city. Was he at the World Trade Center? Pay phones at the barracks were occupied. The next nearest telephones were at the USO, a quarter-mile away. Randy headed out into the storm. He tried calling the family-run business on Long Island where his mom worked. The lines were busy. Minutes ticked by. No open line. He finally got hold of his girlfriend, Dorothea, who then lived in Washington state. "Please try calling my mom," he implored. He waited as she dialed on her second home phone line. And dialed. And dialed …

    Finally, a call went through. Craig had been at the World Trade Center. "For some reason, and maybe it was wishful thinking, but I swear I knew in no way did something bad happen to him. I told my mom to trust me, that I would know," Randy said. "I told her to pray, that everything would be OK, and I think that calmed her a little." No one would hear from Craig for another five hours.

    Heaven to hell

    At 8:45 a.m., Morgan Stanley financial trainers called for a break. More than 200 trainees headed for restrooms and snack rooms in the South Tower. Craig headed for the windows. "I was so infatuated with the view," he said during a telephone interview from New York. "It overlooked the Statue of Liberty and New York harbor. On that day, it was absolutely magnificent. The sky was jet, jet blue. Just so gorgeous, and I went to stick my nose against the pane and look out."

    Flight 11 plowed into the North Tower, sending a fireball to the South Tower that blasted the windows where Craig stood. "[T]he force sucked me out of the window. At the last second, I grabbed a pole on the ledge of the window and hung on for life." When the vacuum subsided, he pulled himself back through and joined the chaotic evacuation. As he reached the 25th floor, the stairwell buckled and swayed — United Airlines Flight 175 had crashed into the South Tower. About an hour later, at 10:05 a.m., the South Tower crumbled.

    Craig was clear of the building, but fainted as the concrete ash engulfed him. When he came to, he began wandering aimlessly for five hours. "I must have been in shock. … But when I came to my senses, I got to a phone and called my wife," Craig said. "I couldn’t imagine the agony she must have been going through not knowing. I needed to tell her I was OK."

    When they connected, both cried hysterically. After they hung up, Craig walked for two hours to return to a hotel room where he stayed for the work training to try to call his son in Okinawa. He, too, had difficulty finding an open phone line, but eventually got through.

    The two men mostly just cried on the open line. "You can’t get into a lot of words," Craig said of the emotional conversation. "I heard his voice and the relief was unbelievable. We didn’t go into details about what had happened," said Randy, who the family calls "The Rand." "I hadn’t [cried] up until that moment, and it felt good," Randy said. Words weren’t needed.

    A father’s faith

    In fact, Randy isn’t so good with words. In a way, his dad makes up for it. Craig began writing a book three years ago chronicling the close relationship between father and son. "Soul 2 Soul: A Lifetime of Loving My Son," due out this spring, was written long before the terrorist attacks and makes no mention of the day. However, Craig might write a supplement "in retrospect that ties in what happened," he said. Craig knows of his son’s tussle between a want for vengeance and a duty to serve.

    "I know he struggles and has conflicts and how difficult it must be for him. I worry about that every night," Craig said. "The temptation to get payback must be unbelievable, looking at the guys who put me and thousands of others through such jeopardy. "But Randy is intelligent, responsible and a good boy. He’ll do the right thing. … I tell him to ‘remember who you are, why you’re there, remember the mission, remember the code and remember your honor.’"

    Always Faithful

    *Senior Chief Of Staff*
    Posts: 695
    (2/19/02 1:46:40 pm)
    Reply Re: "Remember the mission"
    Thanks for sharing Winter--that was a wonderful story. I cannot refrain from questioning---Where Does God Find These Remarkable Men---what is God's plan for us, that we cannot all be such as they? It stirs my own thoughts and beliefs that I am so inadquate. We also serve who only stand and wait---how can one even guess when we will be called on to serve---God's plan I suppose. Wilborn

    *VMBB Staff*
    Posts: 676
    (2/19/02 2:28:50 pm)
    Re: "Remember the mission"
    JW.... your reply makes me think of many things.... but there was one thing you said... "It stirs my own thoughts and beliefs that I am so inadquate"... how could you think that?! I know of some of the things you've done in your lifetime, by your stories, I know of some of your experiences in the service through your books and let me tell you.... you are FAR from inadiquate!!!

    I believe a better word to describe you would be... invaluable!

    Always Faithful