The Iowa Army National Guard in Centerville Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. hosted an open house and offered a tour of the Armory, an opportunity to meet guard soldiers, take rides in guard vehicles and get to know who protects us from enemies who want to destroy America.
Capt. Jarid Catrenich, 34, company commander of Alpha Company, said the last time they held an open house was at least three years ago. Today was the opportunity to give the public the chance to tour armory facilities while they simultaneously held an open house in Fairfield.
Catrenich said Alpha Company has a total of 87 members and is a split company, with solders in both Centerville and Fairfield.
He said they are the forward support company for the 224th Engineer Battalion.
Catrenich has been the captain in Centerville for almost one year. He has been a guard member for 14 years. He grew up in the Des Moines area, graduated from the University of Iowa and has not been deployed overseas.
"I'm an anomaly," Catrenich said. "Anyone who has been in 14 years, it's very rare that you'll see someone who has been in 14 years that has not deployed."
Eleven years since 9/11 has not diminished what Catrenich remembers or feels about what happened that day.
"I think a lot of us still remember very vividly where we were that morning when we heard the news and I still remember," Catrenich said. "And I don't think that memory is going to go away. No, I don't feel any different. And I don't think that I will for years to come."
Recruiter and Retention NCO Trelawney Brown, 31, of Centerville, has been a member of the Iowa Army National Guard for 14 years.
She has not been deployed overseas.
Eleven years since 9/11 has made Brown's military service more meaningful with those wanting to wear the uniform and take pride in serving our country.
"I think it's made my military service more ... it means more to me and also with my job to help other people who what to serve our country and feel the pride to wear the uniform," Brown said. "And just to see more people since that day wanting to serve their country because of (9/11)."
A former Centerville resident now living in Ottumwa was deployed overseas from 2004-2005 in Iraq.
Sgt. Rusty Cabossart, 27, now of Ottumwa, has been with the National Guard for 11 years.
While in Iraq, Cabossart was with the transportation company, where they took materials from Kuwait to various locations throughout Iraq.
Eleven years since 9/11 has not diminished what Cabossart remembers or feels about what happened that day.
"I don't think so," Cabossart said. "It's a horrible thing that happened. I think we learn from things like that, as a country. I don't think my opinion has changed at all. It's kind of our generations version of Pearl Harbor. So, it will always be remembered, at least for me."
Specialist Elizabeth Helle, 22, of Centerville, has been a Iowa National Guard member for four and one-half years.
She has not been deployed overseas.
Eleven years since 9/11 has not diminished what Helle remembers or feels about what happened that day.
"I wouldn't say that it's changed anything," Helle said. "You still kind of feel a heartache and everything from it."
Helle was 11 years old and in sixth grade at the time and living in North Carolina.
"I remember everything," she said. "We sat in the library and they turned it on the news and we watched it on the TV and we watched everything that happened from the beginning to the end of it."
Helle said the children sitting in the library were very quiet.
"It was a sad moment," Helle said. "Everybody knew what was going on. We were of that age where we knew and it was just a heartbreaking moment to watch your country go down like that."
David Becker, 19, of Centerville, has been a member of the Iowa National Guard for more than two years.
He has not been deployed overseas.
Becker was 8 years old at the time and said he doesn't remember very much about Sept. 11, 2001.
"I remember seeing it on TV," Becker said, then he noted security in the United States has gotten much better since then.