Nappanee native & pilot of Air Force One on 9/11 recalls experie - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Nappanee native & pilot of Air Force One on 9/11 recalls experience ahead of dedication

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A tragedy for our nation that won't be forgotten, the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Thursday, the National 9/11 museum opens, honoring the lives lost on that day.

We all remember where we were when it happened and one Michiana native remembers very clearly. Todd Beer grew up in Nappanee and went to NorthWood High school.  From there, he became a pilot with the Air Force, serving more than 20 years. Eight of those years he was the pilot of Air Force One.

"I was with the President down in Florida, in Sarasota. I was giving a tour of the airplane when the first airplane hit the tower and then it all just kind of started from there," said Todd Beer in a phone interview with FOX28, Wednesday.

At first, the Air Force One pilot says he thought it was just a mistake, an inexperienced pilot hitting the tower in bad weather.

"I never in a million years dreamt someone would fly an airplane into a building," says Beer. But when the second plane hit, he knew something was seriously wrong.

He says he didn't even have time to process exactly what was happening. "That day we were so busy, doing the things that we had been trained to do for so long."

He says it wasn't until the next day, that it really hit him. "I was driving back to my house after running some errands and heard something on the radio and it all kind of hit me then," says Beer.

Beer, a long-time pilot from Nappanee with a wife and kids, still finds it difficult to put into words what it meant to be the pilot of Air Force One, the day our country was so brutally attacked.

"Having been a part of that day in that time in that particular situation, it's beyond once in a lifetime," says Beer. He says it means so much to him that a museum, honoring the victims of 9/11, is finally opening.

He says he's grateful for the opportunity to serve. "I think it's the seminal moment of my generation," says Beer. "I don't think we should ever, ever begin to forget something like that."

Beer says he plans to visit the museum in New York City. He says he will wait for a little bit to allow the families of the victims to have their time, first.

The museum will be dedicated Thursday at 10:00am. We will broadcast the ceremony live on FOX28 and also on FOX28.com.


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