A juxtaposition inside the Twilight Zone

I was a young E-4 working in the communications center of Schriever AFB when the attack happened. This was before the age of mass email or SMS notifications, and one of the purposes of the communications center was to receive and route emergency message traffic through the old AUTODIN II system. This meant I was the first person on the base to see the flash message directing the entire DoD to DEFCON 3. The base went into complete lockdown, and a suspicious package led to the evacuation of the building. However, the communications center is a critical function, so it is not evacuated unless there is a confirmed threat. So I am sitting by myself in a windowless, vault-like room, with no other people around or sounds except for the periodic beeping of the AUTODIN when a new emergency message came in. It was definitely an eerie, Twilight Zone sensation. At the same time, there was no TV in the room, and internet streaming wasn't a thing yet.

So on one hand I was the first to see new information directing major military actions, but on the other hand I only had a vague idea of what was going on based on text articles and a few grainy video clips on the CNN website.

I didn't really have a complete appreciation for what happened until I got home that night. So my main memory of the day is how paradoxical it was: I was so alone despite being on a base with thousands of people and was both the most informed and most uninformed at the same time.

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