Remembering 9/11 and Michael

This is a story I wrote immediately after 9/11 and after learning that one of my co-workers, a friend who worked for me onboard USS WASP for three years, had been killed at the Pentagon.  I can’t tell you how that felt to get that phone call. I was on duty and we were watching it unfold on TV. We were scared because we knew that Mike was in the Pentagon that day and worried for his safety. I remember there being talk that out of that huge building and thousands of people being inside, why did Mike have to be one who died. We could hardly see the TV through the tears that were streaming down our faces, praying that he was okay and that the call was a mistake. But it wasn’t. Mike was gone and he wouldn’t have wished anyone else to have taken his place. He loved the Navy and he loved being a Sailor. He was a hero.  He was our hero.

In the 10 years since his death, I don’t think a week has ever gone by when I haven’t thought of him. Something always happens that triggers a memory… Garth Brooks’ song The Dance… I’ll catch eye of the miniature stein he brought me back from Germany sitting on my display shelf… someone mentions 9/11… and now the death of Osama bin Laden.

There is mixed feelings among many people on hearing the news of bin Laden’s death. Some say it’s wrong to rejoice in his demise… but I can feel nothing but relief… and yes, enjoyment. We’ve waited… I’ve waited for ten years for this ending.

All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two – good and evil. With our eyes we see two things – things that are fair and things that are ugly… We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two. – Eagle Chief, Pawnee

Michael, you can rest in peace now shipmate… the evil doer has answered for his crimes.

Pentagon Blast Felt Close to Home

By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Sherri Onorati,
USS Wasp Public Affairs

 NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) — This past week, terrorists attacked the United States in its own backyard. The nation’s sense of security was destroyed, its innocence truly lost. Never did America really believe such a thing could happen. As citizens across the country watched in disbelief, the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed. Then, as Americans continued to watch in horror, the Pentagon, the center of America’s “military might,” was attacked by a commercial airplane filled with innocent Americans. It is unthinkable to Americans, such madness and barbarism can still exist in the modern world today; that terrorists could use American-made hardware and civilians in such a manner against the nation.

As all of America weeps in pain and stares in disbelief at the images flashed across television sets, Sailors of USS  Wasp (LHD 1) also feel the pain a bit closer to home. A former Wasp crewmember, Illustrator/Draftsman 2nd Class Michael Allen Noeth is among the missing and presumed killed in the Pentagon attack. Noeth, of Jackson Heights, N.Y., was an extremely talented artist, was recently transferred to the Pentagon to paint portraits of the former Chiefs of Naval Operations.

“He was so proud of himself when he received those orders,” said Petty Officer First Class Saundra Harris. “He thought it to be a great honor to be asked to paint portraits of the former CNOs.”

Noeth, an accomplished artist known for his naval-themed paintings, found himself among the elite last year when he was invited to display his personal paintings during an art exhibit held at the Montserrat Art Gallery in New York City. During his exhibit, he sold five of his paintings. While enlisting in the U.S. Navy as a deck seaman in 1994, Noeth’s paintings were soon noticed by the art director from the Navy’s “All Hands” magazine, who expressed an interest in his work. Noeth was eventually assigned temporarily to the All Hands magazine production staff where he had numerous paintings published. One of his paintings was reproduced for the cover of the All Hands April 1998 “Year of the Ocean” issue. Noeth was assigned to Wasp from October 1998 to October 2000, and left many friends and shipmates aboard to feel his loss. 

“Mike was a funny, friendly person. He was a riot during the Med Cruise talent show, and would do impressions of the taxi drivers in New York, that always made you laugh,” said Journalist 2nd Class Kory Deur.

Americans and Sailors will weep and mourn for their lost shipmates. But Americans and Sailors will rise in defense of the country when freedom is threatened. Yes, the nation is in tremendous pain, but throughout America’s history, adversity has made the country stronger. Noeth used to say that he painted pictures of the Navy because he wanted people to realize that their freedom and protection comes from the sweat of the Sailors on board. To the shipmates he has left behind, his visions of naval life at sea, will always be a constant reminder of his dream.


3 responses to “Remembering 9/11 and Michael

  • Sarrah Vesselov

    I am in shock as I write this comment. I went searching for Micheal today after he crossed my mind for the millionth time since I last saw him. We were friends while he was stationed at Pearl Harbor and I lost track of him after I moved back to the mainland. My last communication with him was an invitation to his gallery exhibit in New York.

    He was a very talented artist, a great friend, warm and funny. We spent many hours drawing together and I had the honor of posing for him on several occasions. We talked a lot about the insecurities an artist feels and the difficulty in putting your work out there for others to love or hate. It was something he struggled with but faced head on. I am so glad to read that his exhibit was a success, and so sad that I couldn’t be there. Thank you so much for these beautiful words about my friend Micheal.

  • Gail Cleere

    Beautifully written. I remember him with great fondness. Gsc, former PAO for the Oceaographer of the Navy.

  • Sherri Panchaud Onorati

    Reblogged this on familyheirlooms and commented:

    It’s been 14 years since the attack on America on 9/11 and Michael’s death. All day, I’ve thought of him and every time I have heard Alan Jackson’s song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning” I’ve cried… so needless to say it’s not been a good day. Michael, you have NOT been forgotten and neither have the other amazing Americans and citizens of other freedom loving countries who were taken to soon by an act of cowardice. America has not forgotten and we swear… your sacrifice WILL NOT be in vain! Rest in Peace shipmate… until we meet again.

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