Big Honor for Dallas Pilot Who Defended Skies During 9/11

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DALLAS -- A hometown hero who flew with the 121st Fighter Squadron on 9/11 was honored at the Frontiers of Flight Museum Thursday.

dallas pilot

Colonel Dan Caine

Col. Dan Caine was one of the first fighter pilots to be scrambled in Washington DC on 9/11.  His job?  To defend against any other attacks after the Twin Towers and Pentagon were hit.

Colonel Caine says they had to track down more than 20 blips on the radar that day, clearing the skies after DC's air space was shut down.  And some were close calls.

"Really not at liberty to discuss it, even today," said Col. Caine.

By now,  hijackers had stormed the cockpit of United Flight 93 over Cleveland. The flight reversed course and headed back east. No one knew if the U.S. Capitol or White House was the next target.

Caine and his squadron  had orders to shoot to kill, even a passenger plane.

"It would have sucked, to be direct," Col. Caine said. "But that's what we get paid to do.

The 121st Squadron remains on alert today -- 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.