Pilot's tie to 9/11

Retired military pilot Jim Maroney faced a potentially agonizing order in the days after 9/11. He was ordered to Washington on Sept. 12, knowing he could be ordered to shoot down an American airliner.

He was serving in Fargo, N.D. in September 2001. He was being briefed on a practice mission for training when those plans suddenly changed.

Maroney said, "I was briefing, the Intelligence Officer came in and said your flight's canceled. Quick come in to the intel vault and I'll show you what's going on. So we did. We watched in horror just like everyone else. All of the pilots in my flight and myself, we volunteered to immediately stand up and go."

Maroney's immediate reaction was lots of anger. He was ready to do his job that he had trained for many years to do. He and his team flew to Washington the next day to do real missions to protect this country.

He said that on that particular day, it was eerie flying because normally there is a lot of chatter from other airplanes talking to air traffic control. He said on that day the skies were silent and it gave them a lot of time to think.

Maroney said, "There are young men and women who are in the service right now that are as good or better than they've ever been. We really need to support our military and all the businesses that help support our military. We have a great country that's worth fighting for the freedoms."

Maroney graduated number one of 1,500 pilots from the Naval Flight Training School in 1981 in Pensacola, Fla. He was also rated number one at the TOP GUN Training in 1983 in Miramar, Calif. He served in the military for 26 years in the Marines, Navy and National Guard. Maroney has had a lifelong passion for flying. He is performing Sunday in the Cape Air Kirksville Air Festival at Kirksville Regional Airport.Related stories:

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