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Army veteran remembers 9/11 and how he still serves his community today

Frank Lombard, U.P. native, reflects on the tragic day
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 6:19 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT
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IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) - On September 11, 2001, Frank Lombard was in 10th grade at Ewen-Trout Creek High School. Like many Americans, he can recall every detail.

“Walking down the hallway next to the cafeteria, I remember looking up and seeing the Twin Towers with smoke billowing out of them. Everybody just stopped what they were doing that day across America,” said Frank Lombard, U.S. Army Veteran.

Lombard and millions of stunned Americans could not comprehend what had happened.

“First thing that was going through my head was ‘wow, how could this happen?’ Then ‘well, who’s behind it?’ And ‘what are we going to do about it? What is our government going to do about this?’ We quickly found out what the answer was in the coming months,” Lombard said.

In 2005, Lombard was two years into a Fire Science degree at Lake Superior State University when he made a life changing decision.

“I just felt a drive to go and help join the fight against terrorism,” Lombard said. “That was one of the things that really a motivator for me; both the 9/11 attacks and also the war that was going on in Iraq.”

Lombard said being deployed into active combat was surreal.

“The best I can describe it as an experience is like visiting another planet,” Lombard said. “Going to another country where you don’t speak the language, where the government is in upheaval, where we were fighting desperately against an insurgency to try and bring stability and peace and safety to the region. It was just a threat every day.”

Lombard was on active duty for five years, and a leg injury sustained on leave prohibited him from going back to school to be a firefighter. He realized how easy it is for a veteran to fall through the cracks and he still serves his county today, as UPCAP’s veteran program manager.

“A big part of what I and many service providers have been working diligently towards is outreach to try and help identify veterans, educate them about the benefits and services they may be eligible for and help connect them with the things that they need,” Lombard said.

Any veteran in need of outreach can start on UPCAP’s website or dial 2-1-1.

Lombard says he does not regret enlisting, and that he, and millions of Americans, will never forget 9/11.

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