September 11, 2010
As in years past, I’m participating in Dale Roe’s blogging tribute to the victims of 9/11, called Project 2,996. This year, I’m writing a tribute to Colonel David Scales, the personnel policy integrator in the deputy chief of staff’s office at the Pentagon.
Col. David Scales was 6 months away from retirement, after an impressive 22 year career in the military. He had just learned that he was to be promoted from Lt. Colonel to Colonel, which was awarded to him posthumously. He was described as a “perfectionist,” “brilliant,” and “full of energy.”
His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit and Purple Heart medals as well as multiple awards each of the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. His service awards included the National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Parachute Badge and the Expert Pistol Marksman Badge.
He was always at the top of his class, but in a magnanimous gesture, he once gave up his Number 1 spot at Command, Control and Communication School to a Regular Army soldier below him. Since he was close to retirement, and it would have helped the soldier’s career much more, he decided to yield his spot.
He was a faithful Christian, and during the “celebration” of Scales’ life at his church, Rev. Stan Pigue said of him, “”It seemed like when he was around me the air was full of energy and brightness.”
God, family, career – all of these things were very important to Scales. But music was also a real passion of his, and was always a big part of his life. At church, he would play piano after service ended, and people would stay just to hear his music. At home, he would play for the family, and his sister fondly recalls a home movie of him playing for her daughter, who was 4 at the time. At age 12, he composed the song “Blast off Moon,” which was a tribute song to the Apollo moon landing. He sent it to President Nixon and Neil Armstrong, and performed it at the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Over the course of 20 years, he set about composing music to Robert Lewis Stevenson’s poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses. He was inspired by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and had his dream come true when he got to meet Richard Rodgers on stage after a concert.
Bobbi Bliss, who along with Scales and Dan Bridges formed the trio, “Bridges to Bliss,” said, “When you saw David with his hands on the piano, you couldn’t help but feel that you could hear his heart and soul and spirit,”
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Col. David Scales was at his desk at the Pentagon, and had just finished sending an email to his wife, Patricia. She was living in Arizona because their son, Ashton, had severe asthma, and the dry air would help. She had just replied, and there’s a good chance that he was reading her email as Muslim terrorists steered American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing him and 183 others.
In 2006, a young Boy Scout named Joe Ricketts decided he wanted to construct a memorial to the victims of the Pentagon attack, as his Eagle Scout Service Project. He learned that Captain John Scales, father of Colonel David Scales, was a member at the nearby Troop Post 16, so he chose that as the location as tribute.
Ricketts wanted to constuct a walkway in the shape of the Pentagon, with a stone monument in the center that carried the names of the victims. He also wanted a piece of stone from the Pentagon rubble to place on top. 3 years later, his hard work in planning and fundraising paid off, and the monument was completed. It’s a wonderful tribute to Scales and the other victims of the Pentagon attacks, and you can read more about it here.
In memory of Col. David Scales, age 45.
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September 11, 2010
Once again this year, I signed up to take part in a blogging tribute to the victims of 9/11 as part of Project 2,996 This year my tribute is to Michael Miller.
Michael Miller, “lived his life in the present. He never boasted about his past and never went on and on about the future. He lived for now.” If there’s one description that seems to sum up Michael, that was it. On every tribute site, friends and family remember him as living each day to the fullest, and sharing that with everyone around him.
In high school, he excelled in track, and was recruited to play wide receiver for the University of Pennsylvania. The team went on to win the Ivy League title during his Junior and Senior years. He had much success in college, and became a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald after graduating. Whether it was delving into the excitement of life in New York City, riding his motorcycle, or skiing, Michael loved adventure.
Michael seemed to touch the lives of many around him. One friend recalls how his recipe for banana bread was so good, she got it published in a cook book. Another young friend recalls how Michael bought her chocolates during a trip to Rockefeller Center at Christmas. She fondly remembers how he convinced her that the “magic chocolates,” when eaten, would cause the Christmas tree to light up. Many others remember his competitive spirit, and would how he would cheerfully rise up to any challenge – especially if it had to do with sports. In every story about Michael, people recalled how he always left them with a smile.
On the morning of September 11th, Michael was working in One World Trade Center. In a few weeks, he was going to marry his fiance, Patricia Skic. They planned to elope and throw a small wedding party, because they were saving up to buy a house in the Hamptons.
At 8:46 that morning, Muslim terrorists steered American Airlines Flight 11 into the North tower. Cantor Fitzgerald, where Michael worked, was located about 2-6 floors above the area of impact. The company lost 658 of their employees that day (about 2/3 of their workforce).
His parents, Betty Ann and James H. Miller Jr., wrote of their son:
He was generous with his time and money, not only with his family, but everyone else in his life. The light in our lives has gone out, but Michael will live forever in our minds and hearts.
In memory of Michael Miller
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September 11, 2010
A couple of years ago, I took part in a blogging tribute to the victims of 9/11. It became something that I wanted to continue to do, even though the site has scaled back its yearly events. This year, my tribute is to Asia Cottom.
Asia was an 11 year old, just starting Middle School in Washington D.C. Just like any other kid, she loved Barbie, Tweety, and double dutch. But Asia was not typical, by any standards. She loved to read, and loved science, math, and computers, with the hope to become a pediatrician when she grew up. She had attended computer camp prior to starting Middle School, and looked forward to sharing her experience with her fellow students. She also loved her faith, and at her church, she served as an usher, a member of the dance group, and a singer in the church choir. On her own, she loved to study the Bible and wrote her own commentary to some of the more challenging passages.
On September 11, 2001, Asia Cottom boarded Flight 77, along with two of her classmates and three of her teachers. She and her classmates had been selected to fly from D.C. to the Channel Islands in Santa Barbara, to take part in National Geographic’s Sustainable Seas Expedition. The purpose was to study marine life, but there would be plenty of fun as well – kayaking, beach trips, and even the chance to swim with dolphins. This was a unique opportunity, and she was so excited about the trip that she spent time in advance, doing research on her computer. She couldn’t wait to learn, but she also couldn’t wait to get into the water. This was going to be an amazing experience.
35 minutes into the flight, Muslim terrorists hijacked the plane, and steered it into the Pentagon, killing all 64 passengers, crew, and another 125 victims in the building.
Her last project at school was to list her role models and best friends. For her heroes, she listed her parents. She listed her brother as one of her best friends. And on her list of great singers, she listed her mother. For Asia, family was at the top of her list.
On the evening of 9/11, Asia’s mother told her daughter’s teacher, “Mrs. Jones, my baby got her wings today.” The teacher replied, “We have to live right so we can get our wings when it is our time.”
In remembrance of Asia Cottom, age 11, of Washington D.C..
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