Two of the most memorable days in my lifetime; November 22, 1963 (JFK Assassination) and September 11, 2001 (9/11 Terrorist Attacks). Thankfully, I thought to document my memories of 9/11 that very night.
As prospective XO of Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMSLANT), Norfolk, VA I was on temporary assignment (5 days) to Washington D.C. on September 11th, 2001. My 0900 meeting at the Pentagon Communications Center, a subordinate Command, had been delayed 4 hours due to a scheduling conflict. The NCTS Washington Commanding Officer, CDR Young Kim and I were supposed to meet in a cafeteria in the Pentagon for breakfast and then head to the Comms Center for a 0900 briefing and tour.
Fortunately (?) my meeting on Monday afternoon, 10 September at COMNAVTELCOM ran late and they asked me to come back in the morning to finish up. So, Young and I rescheduled Tuesday's Pentagon meeting to lunchtime. I spent the morning of 9/11 in briefings at COMNAVTELCOM HQ (my boss) on Nebraska Ave in northern D.C.. When the attacks occurred we were dismissed. It took 3 hours to drive through D.C. (about 7 miles) to my hotel in Alexandria, VA. I drove right past the Pentagon as it burned. I did stop to offer my assistance to an armed US Army LTCOL by the side of the road. He said the best thing I could do was keep driving. But by the grace of God I could have been inside the Pentagon that day.
Six of the individuals I was scheduled to meet with that morning perished. The Communications Center was the exact area where the plane hit. All six worked for Young and she attended each of their funerals.
Back in Virginia Beach, my wife Kathy had my itinerary for that day not knowing of the schedule change and my cell phone (govt issued Blackberry) was not working - I think all cell phones were out in D.C. for awhile. It was several hours before I got through to let her know I was OK. Sad day.
Lasting memory: On my way out of the COMNAVTELCOM HQ building that morning I stopped with a group of people around a television in a break room. We watched the smoking Trade Center and witnessed the second plane hit. I had a sickening feeling in my stomach and heart. My resolve to continue to serve was strengthened at that moment. :flag-us: Never forget.
Quite an experience you had with 9/11. Sad as it was, we are all grateful that you are able to share the memory with us. God Bless those that cannot. Always, Ed.
Your account of that fateful day is a sobering reminder that all who serve are at peril. I am thankful you survived and were able to share your moving emotional account of events from a personal perspective. I drove the same highway ramp past the Pentagon in November that year and saw the damage first hand. Thank you for sharing this experience and your service. May God continue to bless those who serve and America. W
An amazing sequence of events that first put you headed for harms way and then a simple delay in a meeting changed the course of your personal history. Amazing story that puts a personal touch on an event that has been personal for 20 years. You were meant for bigger things which you have fulfilled in spades.
Thanks for sharing.