was sewn during the past academic year by Jennifer Milton's and
Dawn Gregg's fifth grade classes at Claymont Intermediate School.
It hangs where it does as an inspiration to the men and women of
the Army's Crisis Team who have staffed the center around the
clock since the infamous 'attack on America'.
Commanding one of
the four shifts performing that duty is Lt. Col. Butch Hamlett.
He was assistant to the principal, Susan Gleich, at Claymont
Intermediate. At lunchtime on Sept. 17, 2001, he received a
telephone call at the school informing him that his service were
needed elsewhere. The next
made by Claymont students, hangs in the Army
Operations Center in the Pentagon
||morning he reported for duty at
the Pentagon, home of the Department of Defense and the
high command of the nation's military services. He'll be
there until at least December, and possibly longer
considering the present uncertainty over the future course
of U.S. military involvement.
Hamlett won't share his feelings about what the immediate
future holds. All he is willing to say is, "This is where
I belong right now. I'll be here as long as I'm needed.
... I miss the kids, but I don't want to go back until my
[military] assignment is completed."
He added that he is far from alone in
A Reserve officer, he is not unusual
in having been called to step on short notice from a civilian
position. Col. Michael Ryan said that there were about 2,000
Army reservists on duty before Sept. 11. Today there are 34,000.
Some have recently had tours of duty extended and the total is
likely to grow during the next several weeks, he said. Included
are men and women of all ranks called as individuals and those
belonging to activated Army Reserve and National Guard units.
"I don't think people, outside of
those directly affected, realize how extensive it (mobilization)
has been," he said.
When the crisis team was activated
last Sept. 12, it was comprised almost entirely of Army regulars. It is now
more than 90% reservists. "We're doing what we were intended to
do -- augmenting headquarters staff," Ryan said. "It's not a
matter of freeing [regulars] for 'more important' duty. We've
enabled them to return to their [prior] duties while we take on
very important new duties -- in this case, getting accurate
information to the Army's leadership."
Deployment of reservists -- even at
the high command level which is the Pentagon -- appears to
be seamless. Unlike prior times when activated personnel had to
be trained to assume active roles, current military doctrine
emphasizes parallel duties. Reservists are prepared to step
directly into their active duty assignments, Hamlett said. "In
many cases, we have a greater depth of institutional knowledge
than [regulars] who frequently rotate assignments."
assignment is mobilization. His and the other shifts in that
division of the crisis team are responsible for handling the
paperwork and myriad of details required to call reservists and
reserve-component units to duty as needed. In a very literal
sense, he is the one of the people who
|decides who goes where during the
course of the partial mobilization that President George
Bush has ordered.
work 13-hour tours for six days and then have three days
off. An around-the-clock arrangement is required because
the work involves contact with commands and units in time
zones around the world.
To further a sense of kinship with
forward units, Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarilli, who commands the
crisis team, has prescribed combat dress, albeit without
weapons, as the standard duty uniform. "He feels that to shop
respect to the soldiers in the field we ought to dress like they
do," Hamlett said.
The practice turns out to be
more than symbolic, however.
Permeating the Pentagon is a very
noticable sense of having come through combat. When the mammoth
building was hit by a highjacked airliner on Sept. 11, it was
the first military installation in the contiguous states to come
Delawareans on duty at
Lt. Col. Butch
Maj. Rita Wiley
Kenneth Madden Jr
under attack by an enemy since the Civil
Maj. Gen. Robert Chesnut, an
investment advisor from Mississippi was on temporary active duty as a reservist
that day. As it happened, he was on an escalator en route to the
outer-ring office of a colleague -- and friend -- near where the
airplane hit. The other man was killed. "You don't realize until
something like that happens that a lot of people [in the
military] are putting their lives at risk," he said. "What
happened here was a lot like combat." Chesnut saw combat in
The President and other dignitaries
will gather this Sept. 11 for commemoratory exercises before the
restored exterior wall where the airplane hit. The new limestone
there exactly matches the rest of the structure. Inside, much of
the area has been rebuilt.
No one at the Pentagon, however, uses
the word 'repair'. The work is officially a renovation and
Hamlett explained that is not symbolic either. Almost since the
day it opened during World War II, the building has been
refitted, remodeled and updated. "Maybe deep down, there's some
of the original wiring left in the walls, but that is all that's
original about this place," he said.
There is no lack of familiar faces --
many of which belong to Delawareans -- encountered as he escorts
a visitor through some of the Pentagon's open areas.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Madden Jr., for
instance, is a fellow educator. He resigned as principal of
Seaford High School when his call to duty came last year. "We're
doing a valuable mission. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to
serve as a staff officer at this level," he said.
Maj. Rita Wiley, of Middletown,
assistant executive officer to General Chiarilli, said serving
on active duty "is an excellent opportunity to learn and be
involved." Although it meant partial separation from her husband
and three daughters, both her family and her civilian-side
employer, M.B.N.A. Bank, have been supportive.
Air Force Sgt. First Class Monica
Morris, of Glen Mills, Pa., said she and others have a feeling
of "waiting for something else to happen." She added that she is
not apprehensive but said that "it keeps us on our toes."
Hamlett said those comments are
typical of the attitudes he finds in contacts with reservists,
not only at the Pentagon but around the country, in his role as
a mobilizer. While there may be varying levels of enthusiasm
about the prospect, there is very little distinction these days
between voluntary and involuntary call-ups, he said.
Strictly speaking, most of the
individual reservists now on active duty have volunteered for
their assignments. But Hamlett explained that is mostly a matter
of expediting the process. The military has the authority to
order such personnel to duty. A presidential partial
mobilization carries a service obligation of up to two years.
He agrees the situation bears out the
old Army adage of a commander asking for 'three volunteers --
you, you and you'.
During the Vietnam War era,
membership in National Guard and Reserve units was a sinecure
from the draft. More than a generation has now passed through a
time of all-volunteer military service. To be sure, there are
some who opt for part-time reserve service to earn extra income
or receive educational benefits, but Hamlett said he believes a
significant number, probably a majority, are there out of
patriotism and a sense of obligation to their country.
"They volunteered to serve in time of
emergency when they first put on the uniform," he said. "They
may not have thought it would happen, but when the balloon goes
up, they're ready to serve."
In his case that was when he enlisted
in the Air Force in 1971. He joined the Army National Guard in
1979 and received his commission at Delaware's Officer Candidate
School. After 20 years in the Guard, he transferred to the Army
Reserve as an individual. The Pentagon was his duty station,
where he performed the equivalent of a weekend a month and two
weeks a year of temporary active duty. A resident of Lynnfield,
his civilian career included working on the assembly line and in
personnel at the General Motors Boxwood plant before getting his
teaching degree from Wilmington College. He then went on to
teach fifth and sixth grades at Harlan Intermediate and