Senior NCO Academy class freezes moment in history

More than 400 enlisted members and guests attend the dedication of the Air Force Senior NCO Academy class 08-Delta's legacy project. The clock tower memorializes the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. (Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers)

More than 400 enlisted members and guests attend the dedication of the Air Force Senior NCO Academy class 08-Delta's legacy project. The clock tower memorializes the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. (Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Time was forced to a stand-still at the Air Force Senior Non-commissioned Officer Academy July 23 as more than 400 people remembered one of the most definitive moments in recent American history.

Academy Class 08-Delta unveiled four glass and steel panels on a clock tower in the courtyard of Maxwell-Gunter's University Inn to commemorate the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

The dedication ceremony culminated the class's legacy project to future Airmen attending the schools.

"Each tragic event is burned into a piece of glass and mounted on a side of the clock tower," said Senior Master Sgt. Paul Sharbutt, Class 08D Legacy chairperson. "The time of each event is engraved on the glass, and they are mounted in counter-clockwise sequence.

"We did this to signify going back in time, but the tower hands on the clock above are forever set to the corresponding time of each event. This allows us to freeze that time and the history of the event."

Members of the class removed the wrapping on each piece of art as several military members and civilian attendees watched with tears in their eyes, said Chief Master Sgt. Ethel Pressley, the senior academy's director of programs.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley and Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Norman, Air Force Senior NCO Academy commandant, were the first to officially view the completed artwork.

"It is just amazing that we could take something that lifeless and memorialize 9/11 ... in a way that is befitting," Chief Norman said. "It really pays testament to class 08-Delta. "I'm really proud of the students."

The project began after the class looked over a list of possible legacy projects compiled by the faculty and staff of the academy, Chief Norman said.

The clock tower, plagued with mechanical problems since its installation, remained inoperable until the class took on the project.

The more than 300 members of the class donated more than $1,500 to pay for the glass, galvanized steel bolts and tubing. Class member Master Sgt. Jeffery Kunkle etched the glass in his dorm room over a four week period. The title of the work is "Lest We Forget."

"I could not be prouder as an Airman and an artist to have been able to do this," Sergeant Kunkle said. "We stuck with the glass and the steel to keep it understated and remind us of the towers and the lives that were lost that day, and to remind ourselves and future classes of that fateful day."

The ceremony lasted only 15 minutes, but the work of the Air Force Senior NCO Academy class will remain for future classes.