I'm Lt. Col. Robert J. Darling, USMC (Ret), author of 24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker: 9-11-01: The White House. Below are some frequently asked questions about me and my book that I'd like to share with you.
What is your military experience/background? In October 2007, I retired as a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel with just over twenty years of active duty service. I flew attack helicopters (the AH-1W Cobra helicopter) in Desert Shield and Desert Storm during the first Gulf War and in Somalia, Africa in support of Operation Restore Hope. In 1998, I was selected to fly as a presidential pilot for former President Clinton and then chosen to work for the White House Military Office supporting former President Bush. It was there that I supported the Vice President and National Security Advisor in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) on September 11, 2001. In 2002, I attended the Naval Postgraduate School where I earned my MBA in Financial Management and my last tour of duty was as a Program Manager supporting the Department of the Navy Flying Hour Program.
What is your most vivid memory of Sept. 11? The moment the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 that morning. It was an unbelievable and tragic sight. I knew that America would never be the same again. In an instant, we became a nation at war and we may be at war for a generation to come. I believe our children will have to continue this fight for freedom long after we're gone.
What do you hope people learn from your story? That our country's leaders did attempt to protect and defend America that infamous day despite the communication failures that did occur in the presidential chain of command, starting with the National Command Authority and extending down to local military, government, and civilian leaders. That our enemies are ruthless and persistent but we must remain strong and not tire in this struggle for freedom. That the greatest generation our country has ever seen is the one bearing the weight of the struggle before us right now. That we must continue to honor and support our military and first responders and that we all play an important role in the security of our nation. And that that the passengers onboard United Flight 93 were the ultimate heroes for unifying themselves and for stopping the terrorist from succeeding in their mission.
As the anniversary of the attacks nears, what should Americans remember? I think Mayor Giuliani said it best in his endorsement of the book, "It reminds us that this is not yet a part of our history but still a present, on-going threat." Our enemies are ruthless. We cannot tire until the safety and security of our country and our way of life is preserved for the generations of Americans to come.