Not ‘A Photon Of Light’ Between Us: Guard Member Remembers Togetherness In 9/11 Aftermath

Steve Lambrecht in his United Airlines uniform in 2021 (left) and wearing his Vermont Air Guard jumpsuit in back in 2001 (right). (Courtesy)

My name is Brigadier General Steve Lambrecht. I’m the Chief of Staff and Air Component Commander for the Vermont Air National Guard.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was sitting reserve for United Airlines. That means you’re on call; you have to be ready for takeoff within four hours of getting a call.

I had actually been at United Airlines for about a year and four months. However, four of those months I had spent going through F-16 transition training. I was new to the Vermont National Guard as well; I had come from the Marine Corps, where I flew F-18s, and then had to be trained in the F-16 with the Vermont Guard.

So, actually, on Sept. 11, 2001, it was my 365th day of working for United Airlines. I was staying in a hotel on Long Island, turned on the TV to watch the news, and saw that one of the towers was on fire. Commentators were talking about how an airplane had crashed into that tower, and immediately my thoughts were [that] it was probably a sightseeing tour or some kind of a mechanical problem with an aircraft, or some such thing.

While I was watching TV, I saw the second aircraft impact the tower. I was watching it live. And I knew immediately that was a wide-body civilian airline aircraft. And so I knew that it had to have been intentional. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen in the hours that followed. But I did know that as a member of the Vermont Air National Guard, I needed to get back to Vermont.

Click here for the full story from VPR. This story is part of a 9/11 remembrance project, featuring the voices of Vermonters reflecting on how their lives were changed by 9/11. To find the full project, go to