UP Veterans reflect on 9/11 and how it impacted their purpose in the military

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:28 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Two U.P. veterans who were compelled to continue to serve their country because of the events that happened 20 years ago.

Jesse Wycoff of Bark River reflects on the day America was under attack.

“9/11. I was deeply impacted,” Wycoff said.

He joined the U.S. military in 2000. At the time of the attacks, Wycoff was deployed in Germany.

He said the troops did all they could while serving overseas but feels for his fellow colleagues who witnessed the catastrophe.

“Obviously it was a deeper effect for those who were actually there and for those of us who were serving in the army or military,” Wycoff said.

Those like Marshall Codd, of Bruce Crossing, who said September 11, 2001 started like any other day.

At the time, Codd had been in the military for three years. He was stationed in Arlington, Va. as an E-5 Sergeant at Bravo Company, the nation’s official ceremonial unit.

“We had come into work, all of us,” Codd said. “I lived off post, so I traveled in and we did our physical fitness for that morning, physical fitness training.”

After breakfast around 9 a.m., he said he heard something strange on the radio.

“So as I walk by one, I could hear this commentary going on, on the radio, of a plane that flew into a building,” Codd said.

Initially, he thought it was a poor-tasting joke, until he heard the same thing on another radio station.

“And at that point I thought well something is going on,” Codd continued.

Shortly after the planes hit the twin towers, another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., just 20 minutes away from Codd’s location.

“So at that moment our company command gave the order that we should start getting ready for a potential contingency operation,” Codd recalls.

Codd and his team were placed on lockdown.

The next day they were ordered to help clean up the debris of the destroyed symbolic military building. His team was told to put airplane parts in one pile, building pieces in another and stop and alert their officer if human remains were found.

“It was shocking to all of us,” Codd said.

Up until that point, Codd said he thought he would be in the military for the standard four years, but that day he realized a greater purpose was waiting for him.

“It sort of made this casual pursuit of being a soldier into a very serious pursuit for me,” Codd said. “And many others I’m sure.”

Four years turned into 20 years. Codd was deployed to Iraq two times and Kuwait for 9 months during his career. He retired in 2018.

As we are approaching the 20th anniversary of that pivotal day in American history, Codd reflects on the unity exhibited that day.

“We were sort of united not by fear, but in our resolve to not succumb to fear,” Codd said.

Wycoff said he has nothing but appreciation for those who stepped up to the plate in any way that they could.

“I want to say not good job, but damn good job to everybody who was responding to 9/11.”

As for Codd, he has hope for this country.

“I truly still believe that America is the greatest country in the world,” Codd said. “That we are a beacon of freedom.”

Since retiring, Codd is now a music major at Northern Michigan University and Wycoff is working in Bark River.

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