TIOGA, Texas — We hear a lot about the courage of the men and women who were among the first to respond to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Now, the story of an unsung hero: U.S. Army Maj. Aaron Barta, a Collin County man who was on duty that dark day at the Pentagon.
His new mission was to command the rescue operation after terrorists crashed a civilian airliner into the nation's military headquarters.
Maj. Barta is about to head to Afghanistan for his third tour of duty, but before he departs, he shared his story.
Barta immediately strikes you as someone who you'd be honored to work for (or have work for you). He played both roles with distinction on September 11, 2001.
"This was our job," he said simply.
Ten years ago, Barta led the Army's urban search and rescue unit, responsible for the Capitol region. The unit had trained for years, and Barta said they were ready.
"It was chaotic," he recalled. "We had to start from zero. We didn't have time to get a game plan."
Barta's team did not find any survivors at the Pentagon. Those who made it were found almost right away, he said, by military personnel on site. But the work still went on.
"It was a high-intensity moment working 10 solid days for 24 hours a day; didn't have time to rest," he said. "It was overwhelming, but not an impossible task."
Barta is now ready to ship out to Afghanistan. "It's a noble cause, and I'm happy to be part of it," he said.
This is his third deployment since 9/11, an event that touched Barta's life and continues to shape it.