Area grad honored for 9-11 assistance

When a hijacked aircraft crashed near his office in the Pentagon during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a 1980 Gar-Field High School graduate and U.S. Marine, Lt. Col. James Giles Kyser IV, helped direct his co-workers to safety before heading directly to the crash site. Amid thickening smoke, he assisted people while calling for others to move toward his voice.

For those actions and other heroic deeds during that tragic day, Kyser was one of three Marines presented with The Navy and Marine Corps Medal on Tuesday evening during the Sunset Parade in Arlington. The event was held at the Marine Corps War Memorial. The medal is given for heroism that involves the voluntary risk of life under conditions other than those of conflict with opposing armed forces.

“This is completely unnecessary in my opinion. I was put in a position where I could help,” Kyser said before the ceremony Tuesday. “Being recognized is an honor, and I don’t downplay that. But the people who deserve the honor are those who could not come home that night.”

According to Kyser, one of his classmates from the U.S. Naval Academy, Pat Dunn, was on duty at the Pentagon when the plane hit.

“He died at his post doing what he did every day. These are the kind of people who deserve to be honored; they made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

“It was a privilege to serve alongside those people during a day like that. They prove again and again how lucky we are as Americans to have them with us … It was a difficult day, but a day where I got to watch people from all the services do tremendous things.”

Receiving the medal with the Alexandria resident were Maj. Mathew Coon of Stafford and Sgt. Robert Wallace of Bolling Air Force Base.

While serving as head of the Marine Air Guard Task Force Special Operations Branch during the attack, Kyser is cited by the Marine Corps for helping evacuate his section of the building.

“Displaying selfless disregard for his own safety, he coolly took charge and rapidly organized individuals into firefighting and rescue teams and directed their efforts to reach and save victims throughout the day, until relieved by professional fire and rescue services,” the citation reads. “Through his courageous, dedicated and purposeful actions to save his comrades, he and his teams prevented further loss of life.”

Kyser added that his heroes also are his wife, Chris, and daughter, Lauren. “I learned what it was like to be a Marine from my dad, and learned support from my mom,” he said. “And with the support of my family, it makes going to work every day that much easier. Every day, people in the services go to work with the understanding they might not come home. But the families are proud of the job they do and that’s the payoff.”

Kyser’s family moved to the county in 1963 and moved to Woodbridge in 1966. He attended Rippon Elementary and Middle School before graduating from high school. After attending Gar-Field, he attended the Marine Military Academy in Texas from 1980-81 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985.

Staff writer Christian Czerwinski can be reached at (703) 878-8074.

Similar Posts