9/11 reminders felt on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, too

Biloxi Sun HeraldSeptember 4, 2011 

GULFPORT, Miss. — Present-day reminders of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are all around South Mississippi.

Some are in obvious places such as the airport, where security was beefed up to prevent hijackings like those on 9/11.

Other local reminders are less obvious. There's the gravestone of Army Maj. Michael Green of Gautier at Biloxi National Cemetery. Green participated in U.S. operations in Afghanistan, which came in response to the terrorist attacks. There, Green was killed in combat in January 2008 when the Humvee he was riding in hit a roadside bomb.

His mother, Jane Green, still fights back tears when his name comes up in conversation, and she said recently the impending anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had her thinking about her son and the war in Afghanistan. Her feeling of grief has been somewhat magnified by the recent grim reports from Afghanistan, including a helicopter crash Aug. 6 that killed 30 U.S. military personnel and seven Afghan soldiers and an interpreter.

Last month, 66 U.S. military members were killed in Afghanistan, which some media outlets called the deadliest month there for the United States since the invasion began in 2001. Jane Green knows some of what their families are going through.

"It's a wound that doesn't heal," she said. "You know how those families feel. Your heart hurts for them. It gets better, but you never get over it."

More than 1,700 U.S. military personnel have died and more than 13,609 have been wounded supporting operations in Afghanistan over the last 10 years. Thousands from the Magnolia State have deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, which was invaded in 2003 with the goal of toppling Sadaam Hussein, who was executed in 2006. About 4,400 U.S. military have died in Iraq since the invasion. About 70 Mississippians have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an archive compiled by Military Times.

Tim Powell, a retired lieutenant colonel who is now spokesman for the Mississippi National Guard, said since 9/11, Mississippi Guardsmen have made about 18,000 total deployments to the Middle East. It's the Guard's largest deployment since World War II. Besides the massive deployments, the 9/11 terrorist attacks also changed the way military operates, Powell said.

"(9/11) changed this entire nation," he said. "It changed the U.S. military world, a wide change we still feel today. It has influenced military operations, planning and training."

Read more of this story at SunHerald.com

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