Auburn University ROTC program holds 9/11 themed competition

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 9:06 PM EDT
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - Members of Auburn University’s U.S. Army ROTC program are getting an early start on honoring the nearly 3,000 lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

As the sun rises and the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks quickly approaches, members of Auburn University’s ROTC program compete in honor of that tragic day.

“We did 125 burpees to remember everybody killed in the pentagon and then we did 403 pushups to remember all the first responders that were killed that day and then we did 911 squats to memorialize the date,” said Cadet Batallion Commander Shannon Donahue.

One of the cadets at the competition, a freshman from New York City, says his mother evacuated to New Jersey after 9/11 and when she returned, she not only remembered the smell of one of the twin towers hit during the attack “she also remembers the sadness,” said MS1 Cadet Matthew Sullivan. “People say the city never sleeps but, when that happened, city sort of paused. It had to sleep to get back to where it was.”

Lt. Col. Nate Conkey, one of the instructors of Auburn University’s ROTC program was on active duty at the time. He remembers 9/11 as if were yesterday.

“Our medic pulled out a little FM radio and we started to hear reports come in,” said Conkey. “Instantly, all our senses were up. We knew we were doing something. We knew we were going somewhere.”

Conkey says the experience taught him to always be ready for everything and it’s shaped his leadership role in the university’s ROTC program.

“What we’re trying to do here in ROTC is create leaders that can think on their feet,” said Conkey.

This week’s events will wrap up at the Auburn versus Alabama State University game where 35 new cadets will be sworn in and the university’s athletic department will also honor hometown heroes.

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