Lauro "LJ" Chavez: Ill start by saying a few months prior it was announced by President Bush that Dick Cheney would be heading up operations over NORAD our North American Aerospace Defense Command. Along with many of my peers, we were shocked. Over the years, if you research NORAD, it has always been under the command of a Military officer. It was done this way because the defense of this country has always been in the hands of such. Prior to the months before 9-11 this was all of the sudden changed. Like I said, if you research NORAD and the command structure you will find that it was imposed long ago that the military should be in control of the order to scramble planes in the defense of American air space. For some strange reason, Bush changed this and gave that power to a civilian person on his Staff team yes I know, very interesting.
Back to the morning of 9-11; the command was busy with this training exercise. We were instructed to bring all our gear in to prep for a mock (staged) deployment to the Middle East. On the morning of 9-11 I had been on base prepped and ready to go since about 0400. During my time at the base that morning, they were setting up barriers around the command and placing gun posts on the roofs. When I questioned one of the security officers about the machine gun and shoulder fired rockets on the roof I was given the answer its a precaution for a plane attempting to crash into this building.
So, I was standing in the SCIF (Secure Compartmented Information Facility), which is basically this underground bunker command post for USCENTCOM, when the first plane hit. We were watching the fly patterns of all the planes on the aerospace grid. This contained not only all commercial flights at the time, but all military flights, and fake enemy planes that were supposedly put on there for the exercise. Many of the planes sent to intercept the fake blips were scrambled from Andrews which is an air defense AFB for the East Coast. They were sent across the US and left very few planes to defend the capital. After the first plane hit the tower we were all in disbelief. After the initial shock was over, our questions were what are the odds this could happen for real, during a training exercise thats covering the same scenario? We were all at wits end. Then to top all of this off, Cheney gave NORAD the order to stand down scrambling jets to intercept. A few moments later tower 2 was hit. Only after the Pentagon was hit, did he give the orders to scramble the jets to intercept the plane bound for the White House.