Purple heart recipient from Killeen recalls 9/11 happening just after he enlisted

Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 5:32 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Americans are marking 22 years since the September 11th terror attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and forever changed this country.

It was 22 years ago to this day that terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A perspective sometimes overlooked on 9/11 is of those serving in the military.

For purple heart recipient Anthony Maschek, who now lives in Killeen, on 9/11 he had just entered week two of boot camp in the U.S. Army.

At the time of the terrorist attacks he couldn’t access a phone, a television screen or talk with any of his friends or family members and he wasn’t sure if 9/11 was even real.

“I was questioning whether or not it was real or if it was just the drill sergeants testing us to see if we would react,” Maschek said.

The Iraq War started two years later and he found himself deployed to Iraq. In 2008 he got shot by enemy soldiers multiple times in his stomach as well as both of his legs.

”But eventually most of it recovered, except for my right leg,” Maschek said. “It took that about a year and a half.”

Maschek’s right leg had to be amputated and he has since picked up a hobby that turned into a local business. He runs a skydiving business called Skydive Skylark at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport.

”As every business it’s got its ups and downs,” Maschek said. “It’s been a really fun experience.”

Maschek caters to all customers, but he said he loves to see how freeing and therapeutic the experience can be to other veterans.

“It really gets you out of your head and it really brings you back to living instead of being worried about what’s happened in the past,” Maschek said.

Maschek added that 9/11 serves as an opportunity to look back at the sacrifices made by all U.S. soldiers after the terrorist attacks. He said he wants the country to never forget that historic day but to continue moving forward year-after-year.

Maschek was recently featured on the Central Texas VA Health Care System’s series “Stories of Valor.”