KILLEEN, TX — As our nation vows to never forget the 9/11 attacks, we continue to tell the stories of those who lived through the chaos as the towers fell.
As rescue efforts were underway, AJ Torres of Killeen was aboard a flight from Japan heading to Los angeles. His plane was rerouted to San Francisco without any explanation.
“I opened my window and I looked to my right and I see a fighter jet flying beside us,” said Torres.
The aircraft was flanked with two jets escorting them to the airport. He said as soon as they landed, law enforcement ran onto the plane to take custody of a single passenger.
“I could see fear in everybody’s eyes. I could sense it in the air. I thought wow, something happened. I said, "Sir, did we go to war or something?" He said, "Something like that,"” said Torres.
After seeing the video from New York, the passengers began to understand the levity of the situation. Torres said he began to learn more from a customs agent.
“They were given strict orders to your pilot that if he did not land according to their orders that they were not going to let that plane survive. So in other words, they were going to shoot us down,” said Torres.
Meanwhile in New York rescue missions were underway.
Retired Lieutenant Joe Torrillo rushed to Engine Company 10 across from the towers.
“I ran out of the firehouse to the north tower, but I had to pass the south tower and as I was passing the second plane came over my head,” said Torrillo.
He was buried alive. Rescuers found him and began transporting just as the North Tower fell. He was buried alive yet again. Torrillo was rescued yet again and made it to safety.
He keeps the history preserved through his story. He spoke at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor on Wednesday.
"It’s letting people understand and know the words of a survivor. That helps them reflect on what it means to be a patriot and what this country should mean to them," said Torres.