9-11 ceremony makes Pentagon rock a permanent fixture in the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade armory

Written by  //  September 14, 2011  //  Feature Stories

Lt. Col. John Rooney and Col. Matthew Hearon, both of the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, applaud the receipt of a piece of the Pentagon that serves as a reminder and thank you for the unit’s service in support of the National Capital Region during the years following the September 11th attacks. Photo by Capt. Theresa R. DiPinto

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2011) — A piece of the heartbreak and heroism that was 9-11 is now a permanent part of the Orlando armory that is the home of the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.  Amidst a slew of remembrance events around the nation, the 164th held its own ceremony on Sunday to celebrate and honor the receipt of a piece of the Pentagon that will now belong to the Soldiers and families of the 164th in thanks for their continued service. 

“Remembrance begins with personal identification,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Glenn Finch during his remarks. 

The piece, weighing approximately 250 pounds, will be displayed in the foyer of the armory encased in glass along with a plaque that reads, “Never Again.”  It is one of four pieces of the original Pentagon limestone – the other three will be displayed at: the 1st Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; the 3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; and at the headquarters of the Florida National Guard in the St. Francis Barracks.  

Soldiers stood quietly as Col. Matthew Hearon and Command Sgt. Maj. John Hafford unveiled the artifact, and many reflected on where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.  “We initially thought it was an accident until the second attack,” said Capt. Stephen Choma.  Hearon and others were among those immediately deployed and would join the thousands of Soldiers who would serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I was concerned with the future because the world was going to change after that, but we didn’t know how tragically,” said 1st Sgt. Bryan Henige.

Soldiers of the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade watch a 9/11 remembrance video during a special ceremony at the Orlando Armory on Sunday. Photo by Capt. Theresa R. DiPinto


The 164th has played an integral role in the National Capital Region defense strategy that emerged in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.  The Soldiers have rotated through numerous deployments since the mission’s inception in 2003 – leaving behind their jobs, their families, and all other freedoms in an effort to prevent the horrendous acts of that September from ever happening again.  Many of the Soldiers of the 164th have volunteered for multiple years and continue to make themselves available for upcoming missions…all in the name of freedom and America.  “Freedom is us being able to feed and provide for our families,” said Henige, who appeared thoughtful and reflective. 

The 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, headquartered in Orlando, is home to 1st and 3rd Battalions, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, (located in Daytona Beach and Sarasota), the 254th Transportation Battalion (located in West Palm Beach and possessing both transportation and military police assets), and 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment, (located in Plant City).  The two air defense battalions and the brigade headquarters have shared responsibility for the mission in Washington, D.C. with the Ohio Army National Guard, the Mississippi Army National Guard, and the South Carolina Army National Guard.  The brigade just got home in August, and the 1st Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment is scheduled to return from the mission in late 2011.