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Florence Native Serves Aboard U.S. Navy Ship Commemorating 9/11

By Lt. Rich Locklear, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO - As the Nation prepares to observe the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a Florence, Kentucky, native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Somerset, named for Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in honor of the 40 passengers and crew who died during the hijacking of United Airline Flight 93.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Petty Officer 3rd Class Gage Doirsey, was in kindergarten.

“I was sent home from school early,” said Doirsey. “I remember seeing my mom crying while watching tv.”

“There are few pivotal moments where America has been directly attacked, and Pearl Harbor brought together a generation of people, just like 9/11 is doing for my generation,” said Doirsey.

Doirsey joined the Navy three years ago.

“I joined the Navy because there was an opportunity to work in the career field I wanted, plus the ability to travel,” said Doirsey.

According to Doirsey, a 2015 Randall K. Cooper High School graduate, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Florence.

“My time in the Boy Scouts taught me that serving in the military is the ultimate service to others,” said Doirsey. “That has always guided me.”

Over the weeks following the Flight 93 crash, recovery personnel retrieved more than 95 percent of the airplane's wreckage from the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. USS Somerset’s bow and keel are forged from steel salvaged from the crash. Every deck of the ship contains mementos of Flight 93, including a dedicated passageway leading to the memorial room, which bears the names of the passengers.

According to Department of Defense (DoD) officials, "We honor the lives of those lost and the courage and bravery of the first responders who tirelessly worked to save lives. They have become part of the DoD extended family."

According to U.S. officials, the flight’s passengers and crew prevented terrorist hijackers from reaching their presumed destination in Washington, D.C.; instead crashing near Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Those aboard Flight 93 embodied the strength and determination of the people of the United States: to recover, rally, and take the fight to the enemy, honoring the memory of those who were impacted by the attacks.

“It’s an incredible honor to carry on the legacy of service of the 40 heroes of United Flight 93,” Capt. Dave Kurtz, Commanding Officer, USS Somerset. “As sailors we play the away game so that Americans don’t have to react the way those passengers and crew members did 20 years ago. Their actions remain our inspiration.”

Serving in the Navy means Doirsey is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities, and capacity.

“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”

Doirsey and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“The thing I’m most proud of during my time in the Navy was earning my enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin,” said Doirsey.

As Doirsey and other sailors continue to train, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“For me serving in the Navy is about giving back to the people who supported me in my life, like my mentors, my scout leaders and my community” added Doirsey.
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jesse Hawthorne