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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 12, 2001

America's bloodiest day
Terror attacks' impact shudders across Hawai'i

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

The nation's unease over yesterday's terrorist attacks on the Mainland shuddered through the Islands as armed F-15 fighter jets scrambled to escort commercial airline flights that had been diverted to Honolulu.

The tiny Queen Street office of the Hawaii Blood Bank was packed with donors, who watched as CNN updated the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. At least 60 people had left their names on a list to be called if needed to give blood, likely to be in short supply in New York City in coming days.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Military and Big Island schools were closed. The O'ahu Civil Defense command center was activated, and the Navy ordered all Hawai'i-based sailors to report to their ships and submarines.

It was a day filled with tension and shock. But people like Jim Roche vowed to shoulder on.

"I think it's important that we keep going,'' said Roche, a television producer who is staying with his parents in West Maui. The terrorists' "true goal is to undermine our psyche, our freedoms, the American way of life.

"We can't let them do that.''

Hawai'i government leaders responded quickly, with action and emotion.

"The people of Hawai'i are deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy," said Gov. Ben Cayetano. "The enormous anguish being experienced by the tens of thousands of families affected, and our entire nation, is beyond words."

U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink (D-Neighbor Islands, rural O'ahu), said Congress will have to conduct an oversight of airport security measures and find out how the apparent conspiracy could have gone undetected.

"It's a combination of disbelief and terror and agony to realize that something like this could be planned and executed without our knowledge," Mink said. "The commandeering of four commercial airlines in this orchestrated manner is almost mind-boggling."

Elizabeth Dangers, a student at Hawai'i Pacific University, prays at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral on Fort Street Mall.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Federal buildings in Hawai'i, the Ala Moana Shopping Center and Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo were all closed. So were the USS Arizona and USS Missouri memorials.

Sharon Hancock, a flight attendant for United Airlines for 32 years, was scheduled to report to work at Honolulu International Airport yesterday. For several hours, the Hawai'i Kai resident wondered if she would fly. Before she got through to United and discovered that all flights had been canceled, Hancock said her family was deeply affected. "My 11-year-old son was very upset," she said. "He kept saying, 'You can't go, Mom. You can't go!' "

Darrel Ankeny of Kane'ohe retired Friday on his 60th birthday after 32 years as a captain with United Airlines. Yesterday, his thoughts were for his daughter, a United flight attendant who was supposed to be in New York.

"We were worried sick," Ankeny said. But his daughter answered the phone and told them she was safe. She had traded trips to be with her father for his retirement.

"If they can use our own planes as missiles to destroy our cities, where have we come?" Ankeny said. "We will never be the same."

Among the swirl of emotions people felt yesterday was an overwhelming urge for retaliation.

"But there's no clear-cut target," said Bill Disbro, who works for Kmart customer service on Nimitz Highway. The attack did not come from another nation, he said. "It's some militant faction within some country. We can't go in swinging like a blind man in a prize ring."

Local Islamic community leaders, meanwhile, said they hoped Americans would not rush to judgment before authorities establish who is responsible for the attacks.

"We are shocked and disturbed by the attack, and what comes to our minds is that somehow this will be linked to Muslims and Islam," said Aly El-Kadi, former president of the Muslim Association of Hawai'i and hydrogeology professor at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.

Four F-15 fighters from the 154th Wing at Hickam Air Force Base scrambled yesterday morning to escort more than a dozen commercial airline flights from Asia, said guard spokesman Maj. Chuck Anthony.

A Hawai'i Air National Guard F-15 fighter takes off from Honolulu airport.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

The last airliner touched down around 9:45 a.m. before transportation officials closed Honolulu International Airport.

From his downtown office, attorney Ted Petit watched with suspense as the last plane landed at the reef runway.

"You're watching them and wondering, 'Are they going to land?' From the airport it's a straight shot to our building," he said. "It's a scary thought."

Like all U.S. airports, Honolulu International will be closed until FAA security inspectors clear it to reopen. The inspection begins at 6 a.m today. Only ticketed passengers will be allowed inside once the airport is cleared, transportation officials said.

America's approach to airport security and border patrol could change forever, said Paul Smith, a research fellow at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Waikiki.

The United States may have to adopt the kind of rigorous security measures practiced in Israel, where it takes several hours to board a plane, he said. "It will probably cause a fundamental change in our lifestyle."

All military bases in Hawai'i increased security measures and were closed to nonessential personnel. Traffic crawled through a maze of barricades and security at Pearl Harbor, Hickam, Schofield Barracks and Marine Corps Base Hawai'i as workers were turned away and identifications checked.

Security at all Army posts was upgraded to threat condition Delta, the most heightened state of security.

Coast Guard vessels patrolled Honolulu Harbor. State transportation officials also kept any recreational vessels out of state harbors, although barges and passenger liners were allowed to dock.

Staff writers Yasmin Anwar, Lynda Arakawa, Johnny Brannon, Tanya Bricking, Hugh Clark, William Cole, Kevin Dayton, Robbie Dingeman, Andrew Gomes, James Gonser, Mike Gordon, Will Hoover, Timothy Hurley, Scott Ishikawa, Michele Kayal, Alice Keesing, Brandon Masuoka, Katherine Nichols, Rod Ohira, Jan TenBruggencate and Christie Wilson contributed to this report.