LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — While the nation was reeling after the September 11th attacks, many felt called to step up and serve. It sparked a boost in military enlistments. Two troops in Arkansas were so impacted by the tragedy, they enlisted right away.
And 20 years later, they continue to serve.
Most people remember where they were on September 11th. For Technical Sergeant Evan Chynoweth, he said he couldn't take his eyes off the television screen.
"My daughter was sitting in a highchair behind me and I was watching her while my wife was at work," said Chynoweth. "I can remember pretty much everything about that day."
First Sergeant Robert Sebree said he was in college at the time.
"I was actually coming out of my dorm room and preparing to go to class whenever I walked downstairs and saw everybody kind of huddled around the TV," he said. "The events that were taking place, nobody could really understand it or fathom and at the time."
As both men watched these events unfold, it brought to light a deep passion for service that had been lingering since childhood.
"I've always felt myself as a patriotic person ever since I was young boy, and I can still recall when the Berlin Wall fell in '89, and it left an impression on me," said Sebree.
For Chynoweth, his dad had approached him about joining the military when he was a young boy.
"I told him if my country needed me that I would enlist but I wasn't really interested in a career in the military," he said. "After 9/11 and in the weeks that followed, I thought about how I had told my dad that when I was young, but did I really mean it."
It was that heartbreaking tragedy in 2001 that could bring different types of people together. Sebree and Chynoweth may have been at different points in life, but all that mattered was protecting their life and ours.
"I wanted to serve and be available when called upon, and then be that barrier between adversaries and the population," said Sebree.
Chynoweth took his promise to his dad to heart.
"I talked to my wife about it and told her about my talk with my father and she said, 'It wasn't too late, you can still do that,'" he said. "And about a month after Iraq, that's when I was sworn in."
As America experiences new and different challenges two decades later, both soldiers have hope for the future. They are using their life of service to make a lasting impact.
"There is always that outlier, more or less, that is trying to harm the United States of America and I want to be that that person in between that," said Sebree. "That's why I continue to serve."
Chynoweth wants to help foster the next generation of military men and women.
"I am becoming more of the voice of experience," he said. "You take on that role to guide the next ones coming in."
First Sergeant Robert Sebree is assigned to the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade and resides in Northwest Arkansas. Technical Sergeant (Tsgt.) Evan Chynoweth works full-time at Little Rock Air Force Base as a crew chief in the 189th Airlift Wing.