I was at work early on 9/11/01, in the Harry S Truman Building, a short distance from the Lincoln Memorial. There were three of us ( all retired US Army ) working that day. We heard from a building guard that something had crashed into a building in NYC. We turned on our TV and watched the report of a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center buildings. As soon as we saw the second plane hit, all three of us knew it was a planned attack. We immediately went out on the roof of the US State Department building to see if any planes were headed in DC’s direction. We thought it would be better than be trapped inside if we were the next target. Shortly after getting to the Southwest corner of the Truman building’s roof, we saw the fireball rise from the Pentagon. Seconds later we heard the sound of the explosion.
All three of us just stood there and watch for a minute, until someone said “Son of a Bi**h!” I was thinking how sad a day it was for America. The three of us stood there watching the smoke plume and talked about what we thought would happen next. We all decided that being at home with our families was most important right then since we could not directly help. My two co-workers headed North to the Ft. Meade area, and I headed to my apartment in Pentagon City, about 3/4 mile from the impact area. The traffic gridlock was total in Northern Virginia. I was lucky to have riden my Harley to work that day and was able to take a few narrow and yard-splitting short-cuts home. As soon as I got home, my wife met me with tears in her eyes and asking me if I knew what had happened.
I suggest that we go up to the roof to have a look at the city. From the roof of my apartment building, we could still see and smell the dense smoke rising out of the Pentagon. That evening we prayed for the lost souls and those who were injured. The next morning the odor of smoke was still in the air. My 7 mile commute took me 45 minutes – only because I left early and beat most of the traffic headed into DC. The military had already set up Air Defense Artillery systems in covert locations along my route to work. Police and Fire units were everywhere. It was like everyone was waiting for the second shoe to fall. As the days went on without any follow-on attacks, we still did not relax. I saw many VIPs at the State Department in the following weeks and months.
We all knew we had a lot to do – nothing was going to be the same after 9/11. God bless America again!