By Lisa Koehler: My husband, Wayne, was in D.C. on Farm Bureau business. I was back home in rural Charles City with our three boys, ages 9, 5 and 2.
The two older boys were in school, and I had dropped off our youngest boy at our baby sitter’s. I had errands to run and then planned to do some fall cleaning. I was in the parking lot, about to go into Kmart, when I heard on the radio that they were evacuating the Pentagon due to plane crashes, chaos and so on.
I tried to remember Wayne’s schedule and thought maybe he was going to be there that morning. I was worried, but not extremely worried at that point, as I had not heard anyone say yet “America is under attack” or anything regarding “terrorist attacks.”
I decided to run into Kmart since I had only a couple of things on my list and then head home to see what the TV was saying. There were already messages on the answering machine from worried family and friends. My heart sunk as I turned on the TV.
I tried desperately to call my husband’s cell phone and hotel off and on all day, even though I knew I would never get through. Every time the phone rang, I prayed that it would be him, calling me to say he was OK. I must have had over 35 or 40 phone calls that day.
Finally, that afternoon, a lady from American Farm Bureau called to tell me that the group he was with was safe. They were all at the hotel, and all phones lines were down. Most forms of transportation had also came to a halt. She went on to tell me that they were trying their best to find a means of transportation back to Iowa for the group.
At this point, I was scared, very scared. I knew I had to be careful and not let the kids see that.
She was very good about keeping me updated on what was going on. Finally, I received a call saying that they had located a small bus service that was willing to drive to Iowa. The Farm Bureau group crammed into a small taxi/ shuttle bus with all their luggage & two drivers. Neither one of the drivers had ever been to Iowa and had no idea how to even get there. They drove straight through — 18 hours!
I believe it was the 13th when he finally made it home, and I was so happy and thankful to see him again. Of course, the boys were elated, too. They were really too young to grasp the “terrorist” concept at the time.
I now have a stronger and deeper appreciation for our brave men and women who serve this country every day. God bless them!