ELKO — Closure for the families and friends of those killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, is the main thing Tom Turk sees as a positive outcome of Osama bin Laden’s death.
Turk, northern region director for the Nevada Division of Forestry, was among thousands of volunteers around the nation who went to Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attacks.
And nearly 10 years after bin Laden’s orchestration of the Sept. 11 attacks, Turk considers the military’s killing of bin Laden to be a moving experience.
“It was very moving in my house last night to have that closure,” Turk said. “It won’t bring back our friends and co-workers in the fire service, law enforcement or civilian (areas). But I think it will help close some wounds and bring closure now that that target has been removed.”
Turk also said it is rather remarkable timing that bin Laden’s death comes a few months away from the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Elko POW/MIA Director Les Brown said knowing bin Laden is dead is a good thing for the families and friends of those serving in the military or who have lost loved ones, but it won’t bring an end to the war on terrorism.
Brown said there will be others to fill bin Laden’s void, and the person who may take over may not be as slow and methodical as bin Laden.
“That person may do an all-out strike,” Brown said. “They’ve cut the head off the snake, but there’s still more snake.”
He also said he has concerns about how much information President Barack Obama released on the military operations and the fact that bin Laden was given a burial at sea.
Brown is a veteran retired with 20 years of service, including in Operation Desert Storm. He retired as a military police officer and recently was appointed northern Nevada regional coordinator for the POW/MIA Association.
The impact of the Sept. 11 attacks created changes throughout the nation, especially in transportation. Elko’s airport is no exception.
Rick Hofheins, Elko Regional Airport security director, said the nation’s airport security plans were not immediately changed after Sept. 11, but it was the rise in air-related terrorist threats that led to the changes in how airports operate from a security perspective.
“We had the shoe bomber; the underwear bomber,” Hofheins said. “Things ramped up significantly after 9/11.”
He cited the formation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration as major changes.
“Aviation security has been impacted immensely,” Hofheins said. “Here in Elko our security mirrors national levels proportionately. We have the same proportions to airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco.”
Hofheins said the biggest impact has been to commercial flights, but general aviation may soon be affected.
Elko County Manager Rob Stokes said Monday that he “doesn’t think the war on terrorism is over. I think we’ll still have to be vigilant.”
He said Elko County Commis-sioners have passed a resolution every year since 2001 condemning terrorism and those who work against the United States, “encouraging everyone that we never forget the horrific events of 9/11.”
“Obviously, I’m very happy they found him. It should be a lot of relief to those impacted by 9/11,” said Elko Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Greg Brorby after the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee meeting Monday.
He said he knew people who were across the street from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, but no one in the towers.
Chamber Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Sprout said after the Government Affairs Committee meeting she believes Elko should have a “giant party, and we all have to wear red, blue and white. It might be a night to remember the lives of those who were lost.”
Matt McCarty, chairman of the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, said bin Laden’s death “has been a long time coming. I realize it won’t bring back the people who died because of him, but I do believe justice has been delivered.”
Michael Lindstrom, who was sitting at the bar at Stockmen’s Hotel & Casino Monday watching the television coverage early Monday afternoon, said he thought “it’s about time” bin Laden was killed.
“We lost many lives over the years, and it’s good to see we finally got him,” he said.
“Somebody else is going to take his place, if they haven’t already,” said David Marshall, who was sitting with Lindstrom.
Retired Marine Lesli Coakley said she “loved President Obama’s speech last night. America needed a good shot of positive energy. It shows our resolve, but it’s by no means over. It’s just been made a little bit easier.”
She said, however, that she thinks “it’s a bit bizarre we have an entire nation celebrating the death of one individual. It seems surreal.”
At TacoTime, owner Varmae Betancourt said, “All I could think about is how happy people will be, especially after 9/11.”
On the state level, Gov. Brian Sandoval on Monday reported he received a briefing from Nevada Homeland Security and federal intelligence personnel concerning public safety after the death of Osama bin Laden:
“While there are no indications of advanced plotting efforts that impact Nevada directly, law enforcement will remain vigilant in the search for suspicious activity by radicalized individuals,” he said.
“Nevadans can do their part by reporting suspicious activity such as individuals loitering for no apparent reason to the appropriate law enforcement authorities,” the governor said.