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'To be honest, I need some payback': Billings veterans reflect on memories of 9/11

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Posted at 9:12 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 19:15:02-04

BILLINGS - It’s been 20 years since the tragic attack on American soil that’s known as 9/11. For two Billings veterans, the attacks were what motivated them to enlist and serve.

At the Billings VFW in the Heights, heroes are honored and remembered. It's a safe place where veterans are met with support from their comrades.

On a Wednesday afternoon, while the bar was quiet, Brandon Thronson and Hossein Borhan sat down with MTN News to remember and reflect on the last 20 years.

They were asked, does it feel like it was just yesterday?

“It still does,” said Thronson. “It's so busy with life and everything else that, no, it just doesn't seem like it was 20 years ago. It makes you feel old.”

He served in the Army National Guard for seven years and started the conversation about enlistment at just 17 years old.

When 9/11 happened, Thronson was in eighth grade.

“I'll talk about it, I can feel it, I can feel you know, the goosebumps and stuff,” he said. “It's like I said it's it was just like it was just yesterday.”

He says he was always interested in joining the Army since he was young, but once he saw images on television and learned more about the attack on the United States, it solidified his choice to enlist.

“Well, to be honest, it was kind of, I need some payback,” he said.

And the same is true for Army veteran Borhan.

“I am a first-generation immigrant. I came from Italy here,” he said. “I felt that as an American, you have to serve.”

Both men remember the day well and just like everyone who was old enough to remember, they know exactly where they were and what they were doing on that fateful day.

“I was getting up for school and went, took a shower, got out of the shower, and my parents were both sitting in their bedroom, staring at the TV, and you know, it's kind of like what the heck's going on and they're like, we don't know,” said Thronson. “And then it was at that very second that plane two hit.”

That day, the country stood still.

“I couldn't believe it,” said Borhan. “I would have never thought somebody would go into a building, you know, the two towers.”

Thousands of lives were lost, and these two Montana men became soldiers.

“Even though I was in eighth grade, it still felt yeah like somebody sucker punched you,” said Thronson.

He says, what he remembers most is how the country came together and united. A much different picture of what the country looks like today.

“Waking up the next morning on the 12th, you saw American flags everywhere, T-shirts and stuff sold out overnight,” he said. “It's everybody. You talked to everybody on the side of the road or wherever it was you were at and it was we’re in this now.”

And looking back at his military career, Thronson says, it was all worth it.

“In the end, it kind of gave me peace of mind. Just knowing that I went over there and you know, tried to do my part as best I could.”