flags at half staff

Flags fly at half-staff at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton on the 18th anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

TILTON — During ceremonies at the New Hampshire Veterans Home on Wednesday, speakers recounted the firsthand impact of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

For Michael Pelletier, a Goffstown native, the 18th anniversary of the day also marks the death of his 22-year-old nephew, David DiMeglio, whose American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked that fateful Tuesday morning.

Pelletier said he was at work at Teradyne in Nashua when a fleet of police cruisers sirens wailing and lights flashing encircled the nearby FAA office amid fears it could be a target.

Management directed employees to leave for the day and as Pelletier drove home listening to news reports on the radio, his wife called and told him of what she was seeing on television — hijacked airliners flying into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and crashing in a field in Shanksville, Pa.

A short while later, she called again and told him that their nephew David was a passenger on the first plane used in the attacks.

Pelletier said DiMeglio, of Wakefield, Mass., had just graduated from college that spring. He had landed a job at a local video store and worked all summer to save up money to visit family and friends in California.

His parents dropped him off at the airport that morning. They never saw him again.

Pelletier’s response to the tragedy was to re-enter the N.H. National Guard at the Manchester State Armory, after a nine-year break in service.

Just four months later, he was sworn back into the National Guard. Two years later he was deployed for 15 months in Operation Enduring Freedom II, followed by a second mobilization in Operation New Dawn.

Air Force Col. John W. Pogorek, of Stratham, said he was re-roofing his house when a relative came outside and told him a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. He was still on the roof lugging shingles when he was told another plane had struck the second tower.

As commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing of the NHANG, Pogorek grabbed his flight gear and raced to the base.

Col. John W. Pogorek, USAF

An image of Ground Zero is projected behind Col. John W. Pogorek, Commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, NHANG, as he speaks during Sept. 11 ceremonies at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton.

He had his first chance to fly a mission over Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14, recounting how eerie it was being the only plane in the sky. He experienced the same rush of adrenaline as when he flew combat sorties overseas, but was flying over his own nation’s capital.

“The whole concept of homeland defense was new to us,” he said.

“Today, our nation should renew its commitment to serve others and look after our fellow Americans with the same indomitable spirit that carried our nation through the terror attacks on Sept. 11th and the days that followed,” U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said in a letter read during the ceremony.

Gov. Chris Sununu proclaimed Sept. 11, 2019, as Remembrance Day, writing that as the events 18 years ago, “tested the strength and resolve of our country, they also reminded us of the values set by our forefathers who saw a vision for the United States that we would live and be free of tyrannical rule, and today were are even more determined than ever that we will not give in to terrorism and threats to the safety and security of the United States.”