It's great to be alive! What a beautiful day to wake up
and pray once again there is a God looking out for all of us. Even though
some of us have lived on the edge our whole life, sometimes self induced;
I want everyone to know that I have had an exciting fulfilling life. As we
watch the symbol of America military strength still burn 24 hours later;
let me just tell you what happened from ground zero plus 20 yards.
As you look at Pentagon wedge 4, where the airliner hit,
you only have to look two offices to the right of the 4th corridor
(spoke), outside E ring, and third floor to understand where I was just 5
minutes before the crash. At the moment of the crash I was in my office in
D ring just on the other side of the corridor from the crash site.
Between 0830 and 0935, I was briefing BG Edmunds in her
office on three Army weapon systems. As you recall we are trying to
recapitalize 21 weapon systems for 16.5 billion dollars, trying to do what
is right by either new production, overhaul, or selective upgrades. During
my briefing we were interrupted by her XO telling us that an aircraft had
hit the WTC. My general had remarked about bad weather and mechanical
failure. And of course as a pilot, it was easy to tell it was VFR and that
any prudent pilot would do everything possible to miss that building,
weather they had mechanical failure or a gun pointed at their heads. I
went back to briefing her, then about 15 minutes later, both the XO and
the DPTY Director came in and said another plane hit the WTC and this time
it was on tape. We of course went to go look at her T.V. and could tell
right away this was another KHOBAR towers. (missed that one by a couple of
days). Additionally made a remark "could you imagine if you saw an
airline come at us right out this window. The DPTY Director said something
to effect "I don't even want to think about that." BG Edmunds
told me to go back to her office to finish the briefing because I still
had one more system to brief and she had a meeting elsewhere at 0930.
After the briefing I asked her for some briefing notebooks I gave her
earlier and took what I needed back to my office.
On the way back, I remarked to our DPTY about Tom
Clancy's book Executive Orders about a packed 747 w/ TNT hitting the
Capitol during a Statement of the Union address w/ the whole government in
one spot. She remarked about a book she read w/ a similar plot and went
into the ladies restroom.
A minute later I was talking to my boss at FT Belvoir,
who asked how the briefings went and if I heard about WTC. This time I was
joking and said "at least I'm on D ring (next to the outside ring)
and we had a window unlike our old office I could bust." Hung up the
One minute later around 0940, we heard the explosion,
and then the shudder. I grabbed my keys and ran out to the corridor.
Looked to my left where I just was 5 minutes earlier, saw black smoke,
fire, and hurt people running for their lives.
Problem was -- automatic doors starting closing, smoke
was filling the corridor, and you couldn't see or breath any more. We kept
the door open as long as possible, ran downstairs, and then went outside
into the middle court. By the time we got there, people were already there
seriously hurt. I felt real bad and went back into the building on the
ground floor between D and E corridors. After about 5 minutes I saw a
gaping hole in the brick wall and yelled if someone was in there. Took
another deep breadth and yelled again this time closer to the fire. It was
hot. I could here voices screaming. Couldn't get in. Yelled for fire
extinguishers, and medics. All the rescue people started escorting
everyone one that was left (mostly military trying to help) out of the
Pentagon. Most of the smart civilians who don't get combat pay already
left. Felt real bad not being able to help and that is what I'll never
Went to the subway only to find it shut down. Walked
outside to join everyone else who was just in a daze. Most of us ended up
on the freeway watching our offices burn down. It was then I first learned
that my suspicion was correct that an airliner had hit us. Somebody had
showed us his digital camera of AA acft parts burning. Earlier I had
smelled and walked around in jet fuel while trying to help those guys in
that burning room. After an hour I realized the only thing flying was
loaded F-16s CAPs over D.C.
I managed to catch a ride w/ a news camera's wife back
to the mall where I keep my car during the day where I catch the subway
Most of you know I'm not emotional, but drove to
Kristen's preschool, picked her up, kissed her and carried her out to the
car. Some lady saw me and just said "there good to latch on every
once in a while"
Everything else is history. Cindi at work was herded
into a room with a couple of other military wives who work at her
hospital. Of course she got real scared when the social workers started
asking for information, etc. The boys were stuck at school and couldn't
find out any information. Then suddenly realized when they saw the Honda
in the drive way that their dad was safe.
What's even more tragic is Ted lost two coworkers on the
AA 77. The army took the biggest hit, and I can't even tell you how many
army staff guys I know who got killed. All I know is I'm glad Ted was not
on that plane and that plane didn't hit me. Almost like Mark's incident.
Anyway I'm starting to run out of lives. Think its time
to retire and go fly for the airlines. However, even that is not a safe
I know this country is strong. I know the military is
strong. We all have a strong families and network of friends, and I'm sure
we will all get through this. And if required kick some butt because
somebody is not playing fair.... Love, Mike