A veteran of 9/11 has concluded his nearly three decades of service.

Lt. Col. Daniel Donahue retired Sept. 27 at Bob Jones Auditorium.

He was honored for his 28 years of service by ceremony host Maj. Gen. Thomas Todd, program executive officer for aviation. Donahue’s last assignment was product director, Afghanistan Aviation Modernization where he supported supplying the Afghanistan Air Force with helicopters.

Todd described Donahue’s effectiveness as an officer and his ability to complete difficult missions and seemingly impossible tasks. Todd said that Donahue performed well in tense, high stress and politically challenging circumstances because Donahue understands what is important based on the perspective that he has gained from his experiences.

“It just so happened that on 9/11 he was in New York City. It just so happened that he was next to the World Trade Center and when they came down, he just so happened to run into the fire and tried to recover and rescue,” Todd said. “He has suffered physically and it took an emotional toll. He did that without anyone asking. He did that because it was the right thing to do. It forever changed his life and I believe it changed it for the better.”

Originally commissioned in the Louisiana National Guard, then Capt. Donahue was off-duty in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. After the attacks, he became a first responder at the site of the World Trade Center and a member of New York City provisional Joint Task Force conducting search and rescue from Sept. 11-12, 2001.

In a letter, Daniel Nigro, New York City fire commissioner, congratulated Donahue on his retirement and thanked him for his service saying “On Sept. 11th, when our city was attacked, members of the FDNY, NYPD, first responders from numerous law enforcement agencies, and United States service members immediately answered the call for help. Though off-duty at the time, you too responded immediately. You came to the aide of frightened and injured New Yorkers, helped to evacuate them from harm. The work was painful and dangerous, but you returned many times to assist in the recovery efforts.”

“You went above and beyond the call of duty responding to crises across our nation including on the tragic day of Sept. 11, 2001, when you tirelessly supported the New York City Police Department. Thank you for standing with our members during the rescue and recovery efforts following the attacks on the World Trade Center,” wrote Robert Ganley, deputy commissioner for New York City Police Department. “We are truly grateful for your many contributions to keep our city and nation safe. Our best wishes are with you and your family for a happy and healthy retirement.”

Donahue, then a captain, was called to active duty as an acquisition officer in June 2004. He worked on various programs including the light utility helicopter, utility helicopters, air traffic control, unmanned aircraft systems, small unmanned aircraft systems, Apache helicopter sensors and fixed wing foreign military sales.

After thanking Todd, his family and the assembled guests, Donahue talked about why people serve and his career.

“When you start your career, you have little more than the allure of the Army, the romanticism of the uniform and being a part of the team. Then you come to a turning point that changes your life. Then you realize that it is a stepping stone. When I reached mine I realized I need to be a better person than I was, a better Soldier and a better leader,” Donahue said.

He closed with a challenge for the audience. “In two years we will be retiring a generation (of Soldiers) that have never seen peace. They put on the uniform after Sept. 11 and they are continuing to serve and they will not have seen a day of peace. So how are you going to help them in the next chapter of life when they get out of the Army? We are all getting out, they are staying in, how will we support them?”

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