A good month in advance, we had a pre-meeting with the Sarasota Police Department, which we did anytime there was a head of state or vice president who was going to be in our area. It wasn’t anything unusual because we had had ex-presidents and vice presidents before. Our job was making sure we provided necessary support to the Secret Service agents in charge of the president’s overall security.
I had been at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort the night before and didn’t leave until 9 or 10 p.m.
At that time, Fire Chief Julius Halas and I were having our morning coffee, sitting at my house when my friend called to tell me that the World Trade Center had been hit. Like the rest of America, we were glued to the television.
Once it was determined that this had been a large-scale terrorist attack, things happened quickly. We provided extra security at the Colony after the president departed and continued to do so for at least a couple of days. Much of the Secret Service and press corps was grounded. It was also chaotic because we were getting hundreds of calls from people who thought they saw something suspicious.
When (a report of a van full of Middle Eastern men pulling up to the Colony stating they had a poolside interview with the president) came up, there wasn’t a single person who could confirm that it happened. We never found anyone who worked at the gate who could tell us that that happened.
It was a very hectic time. I think myself and everyone else, we were so numb from what happened. On the 10th and the weeks leading up to it, it was business as usual. But looking back on Sept. 10, it was the night before everything changed.
Read more Longboat 9/11 coverage here.
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