Many people can recall exactly what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001, but one Tennessee State University official had a true front-row seat to history.
These days, Rick Delahaya is charged with handling some of the big problems at TSU, but on 9/11 he found himself handling the security of President George W. Bush.
"We were getting word from the White House saying, 'you cannot disclose that he's coming here. You cannot confirm or deny anything until he's back in the plane,'" said Delahaya, who is now media relations director at TSU.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Delahaya was working in public relations for Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, which is where Air Force One landed while the president was flying back to Washington D.C. after the terrorist attacks.
"They radioed ahead and said, 'we have a plane full of dignitaries. These are the requirements that we have to have.' And we deduced from that this has got to be Air Force One," Delahaya said.
What Delahaya didn't know at the time, was that he would soon help the president deliver an important message.
"I had such a small role in it, but thinking back it was kind of a big role," Delahaya said.
Delahaya watched as the president wrote his speech on a notepad.
"Make no mistake - the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts," Bush said in his speech at Barksdale.
"They actually gave me the tape to hand out to the satellite trucks to uplink it to, really, the world," Delahaya said.
Eleven years later, Delahaya's media relations job at TSU is much different, but he always remembers Sept. 11 as the day he spent assisting the president.
"People think of him as this jovial character, but that day he was very serious, very businesslike. And just to be a part of that will just be something that will always be with me forever," Delahaya said.
Delahaya added that Barksdale Air Force Base happened to be going through a weapons training exercise on the day the attacks happened. He said there was a moment where the general on base didn't know if the twin tower attacks were real or a part of the simulation.
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