VALLEY PATRIOT OF THE MONTH
By: Gary Mannion – September, 2010
LOWELL – Greg Page sat on his couch waiting to leave for Newark International Airport to catch his plane to San Francisco; he was about to embark on his senior year at Stanford University.
Whatever it was that seemed important to him as he sat there was, although he didn’t know it yet, about to become insignificant. Most seniors heading off for their last year of college are worried about finding jobs and making their place in the real world. This senior in college was about to join the real world very fast and before he knew quite what had happened.
Greg was distractedly watching TV while he waited for the time to leave. Suddenly a news bulletin flashed across the screen; a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Greg called his mother to warn her that she would be hearing the news, but not to worry because it was not Dad’s tower.
In 1993, when the World Trade Center was bombed, Greg’s father made it all the way down the stairs — covered in soot but, thankfully, all in one piece. So, Greg figured that this was just like that last time and he decided to believe that he had nothing to worry about. Like so many watching, he assumed that this was some sort of horrible accident and that, like last time, his father would escape unharmed.
But mere moments later he and the rest of the world witnessed actions that made it clear that this was no fluke; this was a part of a deliberate attack on the United States of America. More importantly to Greg, a plane had just crashed into his father’s building. In fact, the plane seemed close to his father’s office on the 72nd floor. For Greg the next few hours were, as they were for a lot of Americans, very long hours indeed. Terrified and confused, Greg had no idea if his father was dead or alive.
Greg was one of the lucky ones waiting for news of a loved one that day. For some reason unknown to him, his father had taken a later train that morning and had only just arrived in the lobby of his building when the first plane hit.
Horrified and confused, his father decided not to attend work that day. Not sure just what was happening, he left the tower and headed for St. Paul’s Episcopal chapel, which is where he was when each of the towers collapsed. He called Greg to let him know that he was alright and Greg spread the word throughout the family.
Greg felt like he had just survived a game of Russian roulette. His father escaped an unimaginably horrific death thanks to the happy accident of taking a later train than usual. And Greg, by not choosing Flight 93 to San Francisco, had avoided being aboard the flight now famous for those heroic passengers who overpowered their hijackers and diverted an intended attack on the Capitol or White House. Naturally, all of this had a huge impact on Greg. He remembers sitting there in shock that night, thankful that his and his father’s lives had been spared, grieving for all those innocent lives that had been lost and, beyond that, not really knowing what to think.
Not knowing when air travel would resume, Greg decided to take a cross-country bus from Newark to San Francisco. He noticed, to his surprise, that as he traveled further west people seemed less affected by the recent events. When he finally got to Stanford, he had begun to feel like he was experiencing 9/11 and its aftermath in a very different way from many of his peers.
While the demonstrations and discussions around him seemed very critical of the U.S., implying, if not saying straight out, that the United States had no right to invade Afghanistan, Greg felt quite differently. He, along with many Americans, felt that nothing could justify the attacks of 9/11.
When he thinks back on this time, Greg recalls: “I could see a double standard that some people were applying to domestic versus foreign terrorists. In some people’s eyes, it was okay to label a Timothy McVeigh or a Ted Kaczinski a “wacko” and dismiss them outright, but if a group of people from another country attacked us, then there must be some justification. I personally felt pretty strongly against all terrorists.”
During that year, Greg was the Opinions Editor of the Stanford Daily and wrote several editorials stating his belief that the military incursion in Afghanistan was the right course of action, and that the attacks could never be justified. He then followed through on his original post-college plan to get a Master’s in Education and get into teaching. He enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, doing his student teaching in 9th and 10th grade history in Cambridge.
With the Afghanistan War going on and the Iraq War starting, Greg began to feel a tug towards the military. He decided that it wasn’t enough for him to just teach about history or write about what others did; he felt compelled to be a doer, to take part in history. Greg followed his heart and decided to enlist in either the Army or Navy Reserve while still pursuing full-time teaching.
In 2004, he began Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL. After being commissioned he then moved on to the Naval Intelligence Officer basic course. He soon graduated in 2005, winning the Admiral Porterfield prize as the #1 overall Excellent student in his graduating class.
From 2006-2008 Greg did some work overseas, due to security purposes we have chosen not to describe exactly what he was involved in.
The time that Greg spent in Iraq working made him want to transfer over to one of the ground services, where he could have a more direct, long-term role in the Global War on Terror.
He knew he wanted to get back to Massachusetts, where he attended graduate school so he contacted the Mass Guard, where he would later take employment at the end of his stint in the Navy. He found an opportunity in Groton, CT as the Intel Officer for the Admiral’s staff at Submarine Group TWO.
Greg would soon meet his future wife, Ratriey, in July of 2008 they were soon engaged in August of 2009, and just got married this past July.
He is currently serving in a full-time capacity with the Mass Army Guard. He is now serving as the Brigade Assistant Intelligence Officer. He was part of those mobilized to support two State Active Duty missions: Operation RISING WATER and Operation BROKEN PIPE. The first was flood related, the second was after the pipe burst in Weston. Although in both cases, he was restricted to administrative work he did have a hand in the operations.
Like the dedicated military man he is Greg is dedicated to improving his community and staying involved as much as he can. He is a life member of Walker-Rogers VFW post in Lowell, Treasurer of Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Association, Senior Vice Chair of Lowell Global War Veterans. Member of Lowell Mission Church on Andover St and recently has volunteered with the Sam Meas campaign.
Greg is a prime example of an American hero. From that day on his couch in 2001 to his recent work with the National Guard Greg has always kept his country close to his heart.
Although he may not of known it that day but the attacks he and the rest of the world witnessed inspired him to take action and to stand up for his country.
We as Americans can be thankful that we have people like Greg willing to answer the call of courage and be that hero. We are proud to name him our Valley Patriot of the month.