tv Oral Histories 911 with David Thomas CSPAN September 12, 2021 4:31am-5:30am EDT
>> did you know all of c-span american history programs are available to watch online? go to c-span.org/history type in your topic of interest in the search box. thousands of programs look at the people and places that shaped our nation. all available online at c-span.org/history. >> is you reflect on the morning of september 11, 2001, how did your day begin? >> i was in the navy defense. this was culminating in 18 month project. i been in the job for 17 and half months. my day began at the series of meetings and then i was with my boss in the meeting with
another admiral. we were discussing the navy's contribution to national defense just putting the finishing touches on our input. >> host: explained that project but what was the review all about and what is your specific role question at. >> every four years the services, the joint staff and department of defense have a report to congress. it's a review of our defensive posture and the structure that supports it. this was to be a policy-based review. i had been in the strategy and policy director on the navy staff when we stood up this defense review. so i became the executive officer under a navy officer. so myself and 23 other officers have been working this project for almost 18 months. we're just about on endgame on september 11 but speak. >> host: this is another
series of meetings pretty typical for you and your job. >> guest: is a typical busy day. things started for me about 4:00 a.m., i had an apartment close to the pentagon. i drove to work parked, came in, started my day about 5:00 a.m. at my desk with everybody else just churning out because we are just about on this project. and we were very proud of our work. it was a good well executed projects. he went so the first plane hit the first tower, where it physically were you? how did you get word of what was happening in new york, and with the first plane what was your reaction? >> as it is in a meeting as i mentioned a very senior navy admiral and several other flag officers i was part the junior guy in the room. admirals aid came rushing into the room, interrupted the meeting and said sorry you got to watch us turn on the television. in the meat watch the first plane fly into the twin towers.
the immediate action in the room was it was some tragic air traffic control miscue or some kind of accident. so we turned it off, got back to work. subsequently the aid came back and minutes later and said sir something else has happened, turn the television on. we watched the second plane fly into the second world trade center. the admiral stood up and said gentlemen, ladies this meeting is over essentially a man your post will be some sort of response required of us. and we must be ready. the meeting is adjourned. and everyone hustled to their respective offices in the pentagon. we went when he saw the second plane hit the second tower, for you personally what were you thinking closure immediate reaction question what. >> it was clear this was no accident.
somehow this was intentional. this cannot possibly be a coincidence. an active terror was the first thing that popped in my mind that somehow this was a coordinated attack on the united states, at least on those buildings on new york city. then you start thinking how should be respond? what could the navy's role be in this? what could washington, pentagon, navy staff what could we do how can we respond, how can we help? sue and for those who've not been to washington, they take pictures of the pentagon. where physically was your meeting and explain the physical structure the different rings inside the pentagon. >> the pentagon is a five sided building. it has concentric rings than inside the å-letter or outside
it's a courtyard a really nice courtyard. there's trees, grass, hedges. so between some of the rings you're actually outside. it's not just one solid building for example you got bd in sebring and then your outside between the cnb ring and some section. so i was physically in a meeting in the evening near the first corridor. so in this meeting adjourned i walked from the first quarter of the ring outside the hearing to my office all the way over on the sixth corridor on the fourth floors where my office was. sue went shortly after 9:00 a.m. your meeting is quickly adjourned or headed back where? >> to the quad room of defense the sixth core door fourth floor the pentagon and the sea
ring. i walked the outermost ring of the pentagon on the fourth floor and actually a newly renovated wedge of the pentagon is being refurbished. ironically that is where the plane flew into minutes after i got past it into my desk. stopped in, said hello to some friends, checked on some projects. i wouldn't call it a leisurely stroll is conducting business on the way to my office. and then again, minutes later all of this was gonna some of my friends were gone as well. we went to a member what time at your desk? >> guest: not exactly. it would probably be 9:15 a.m. -- 9:20 a.m. or so. set down at my desk, called the friend of mine my best friend who is in the navy operations center. we were going to meet for coffee sometime around 9:30
a.m. -- 9:45 a.m. i said turn on the television check this out there's something going on you need to know about this. almost immediately after that there is a shock, a vibration kind of a rumble as if a big train had just gone by for a little trumbull had just occurred. something has just happened. there's been some sort of detonation of some sort. a bomb or heaven forbid a plane in the pentagon. i dashed off a quick note to my mom, hit send and got up. went to see what was happening. >> he of course it never felt like anything like that before new year's in the pentagon questioned. >> not in my years at the pentagon never. i'd felt earthquakes before
and a rumble in sort of a dizzy feeling almost the world not turned upside down but definitely changed and shifted. the ground on your feet is not steady. that was the feeling. >> host: what happened next? >> guest: , i mentioned i was on the fourth floor there was a stairwell down to the first floor to the outside between the b and the sea ring. i wanted to be outside. if this building was going to fall i did not want to fall on me. so iran outside, looked up and again i was between the b and c rings and there was smoke i had a direction to go. i headed towards the smoke in this concentric ring on the
inside of the pentagon moving counterclockwise. >> host: clearly buy this on the pentagon between 9:00 a.m. -- 9:30 a.m. is fully staffed. everyone is on the job is there or was there at that time correct question work. >> guest: yes absently. >> host: do you remember what the spaces look like as you were leaving the office you're heading outside was there panic, fear, uncertainty? what do you remember? >> guest: it's a big place and the population is not densely packed. but, the closer i got to the scene of the airplane striking the pentagon, the more people you saw coming the other way that have panicked and in many cases the calm but deliberate moving away from this fire.
again it is the pentagon so their angles. you turn one corner the corner i looked up where there was smoke he came this accident scene. and in thinking about it over the years, big heavy things it wasn't fire, i'm now outside you got a whole punch to heaven but the air plane pieced together in my head. iran to this calamities, to the smoke. and the windows what's inside the sea ring the innermost wall the sea ring there is fire on all four floors and smoke there are big holes in the side of the building. and some snapshots in my mind are happening right now, there are five little dots your mind tries to process these things
as you are moving. the five little dots in my processing that was not five.that was afoot. what is that seaweed doing waving in the stream or the creek it was not a piece of seaweed it was someone's head and hair washing and some burst of fire fresh water, was an animal killed there or someone to field dress a deer there? that used to be a person. so you have these images and burned in your head remain forever. it is as if it had just happened. again and my mind i picture and i can still see this guy
this guy i had seen every day one of the custodial folks at the pentagon small old guy, a wonderful guy said hi to me every day always and nicely dressed and very polite. we exchanged greetings for a year on this job. here is this really old guy dragging two heavy buyer asked english as to the scene of this fire. i can still picture that guy, never saw him again. so you asked me what were other people doing? there is a stream of people going to the scene of this horror, this inferno. and of course there are people leaving and going away from it. some clearly had been involved and some just ones get dhec out of here. the closer i got, the clearer it was now apparent a plane
there's a big piece of fuselage, a big chunk of the full tire. it had punch through the wall and arresting outside between the v and c ring. it's clear this is the navy operations center. i mentioned my friend i'd been on the phone with. best friend at my wedding, this was my best friend. this is where he works. >> host: his name? >> guest: captain bob dolan, my best friend. he was in there. they mention as in the strata sample policy division when i first got to the pentagon when they started this operation, we were both going to command our ships together at the same time. i finished just a little bit before he did and got that great job. i've gotten pulled out of that job to be's part of the special project.
he ended up in my job. i mention they just refurbish this wedge of the pentagon. he and his strategy celt going to be in office in crystal city. he called me and said you know anybody who could find us room and the new operations center so he could have an office in the pentagon. so i got him his office. so he had my job in an office where i had arranged for him to be. and i called him and said turn on the tv and watch what's going on. so i was really interested in finding my friend at that instant at all kind of clicks, oh my gosh my friend is in there. so these big heavy polices of the plane through the earring, punch the d-ring and through the c ring the last momentum punch a hole in the innermost wall of the c ring. there were some places you
could crawl into to try to help or see if there's anybody who could be helped. so i crawled into one, there's a big metal door and i could hear people pounding on the other side and screaming. i picked up the first thing i could find, this big metal tried to bust in the door. i could hear them there yelling got louder because they could hear me banging, and then it got quiet. i was not making any process for my assumption was they figured another way to get out, i hoped. that was fruitless. i win in a little further and by this point the conduit, the plastic that sheets the wires in the ceiling and other plastic were starting to melt so i took my shirt off and wrapped it around my head. these drops of melting plastic and metal are starting to hit skin, my back and things.
and i were a uniform similar to this it was a khaki uniform they've changed a little bit it's not quite as synthetic a little more fire resistant. but the shoes i was wearing, it's a wonderfully high-gloss shine not meant for firefighting. or being in a hot environment. they started to get a little uncomfortable i splash some water on them, splashing water on my head and crawled in a little further into the pentagon trying to find my friend, trying to find anyone who started yelling, anybody in here bob are you in here? the smoke gets thicker and the hot gases become. i was not making any progress in there, found another whole it was actually hotter than the one i had been in so i was
a little reluctant to say there too long. but then i figured i was exactly i could see exactly where my friends desk should have been, flames are shooting up, it is clear that if he is there he's either about had it or close to. i'm trying to get as close as i can, screaming for him or anybody, someone saw me and came running out past me that was great he was an army officer covered with just dust. so, as i'm focusing 20 yards into this office space, it is on fire and falling apart. i noticed it was surreal, since audit head shaped entities stare at me with eyes open and staring. it blinked suddenly i realized
it was someone who was trapped, could not move probably cannot speak at that time in shock. this person is trapped i'm a wall is fallen on them i'm trying to push the wall up to give him enough room to squeeze out. his desk has collapsed on him and his chair. trying to lift this up, move this and it was not budging. as i'm screaming for someone to come help me, because this guy's going to go soon there are flames on his backside. you cannot breathe it's too hot. so as i'm screaming i hear this noise behind me there is another naval officer crawling and on his hands and knees crawling on his belly like a combat crawl. he said what if you got what's going on? i said there's a guy tripped over there and i cannot get this up. turns out the guy i never met before, dave tarantino.
he gets on his back with this stuff dripping on him this hot molten plastic metal dripping down on him and me priest faceup lying on his back he was doing leg presses this desk high enough for this man to get freed up just enough to slide down and escape. so his foot gets cadiz almost clear in his foot gets caught we leave his shoe behind, he slides that would take him outside. it was a guy i had never met before amending gerry hansen a former navy aviator, retired was on the staff work the same complex as my friend. and so he got outside, we got him some medical attention. in a minute or two we try to catch our breath me and dave tarantino is the same
beautiful, beautiful september when it got of my car to start my day except it was dark as clear blue sky and did that just happen? i know i am going back into find my friend. and i know haven't seen he was up to i knew he was not done. i was so fearful that i would never know him. and gerry would not know what happened. i reached over, grabbed his name tag, pulled it off stuck it in my pocket, introduce myself it is great to meet you i will see you later. and went back into try to find my friend. at that point the compressed gas cylinders or something started exploding pieces of the ceiling were starting to come down.
so there was no more of that, no more going into pull people out of that part of the building. so began an endless a day of trying to find people, occasionally finding people who were loss would wander into the smoke-filled areas where they could not figure how to get out. and in guiding them out or getting them to a direction and looking for other folks it was again a huge office building. i have never seen empty before. but at that point, it was probably an hour after the thing had begun it was completely empty. anyone who is going to get out had left and was out or had been rescued. so there is this foggy, smoky, cloud and empty offices everywhere as if the people
had been instantly removed. clearly a phone had been put down or a memo half written or a danish and cup of coffee not consent but halfway gone. again, it is something that is indescribable. it as if humanity had just left. >> host: the gentleman you pulled out the retired naval aviator,. >> guest: gerry great guy i've never met him before his best friend died that day too. gerry lives and jack dies there were literally feet apart white one and not the other? it was like me and my friend why him and not me? ironically i saw the flight
path of the airplane that flew into the pentagon. apparently admit a pass over the pentagon ended been too high in came through for another path. the first path it would have taken it to into the quarter were i was sitting. and would have i hope spared my friend. so the ironies of that day. anyway, continue trying to set up triage and assist with finding other folks. found some really incredible first responders. the pentagon police force was magnificent. no one knew what was going on. probably at this point everyone has either seen or heard of the second airplane into the twin towers, was there going to be a second airplane into the pentagon?
we could hear airplanes occasionally fly overhead. where they combat air patrol? were they our folks trying to protect the pentagon? is it a second attack? we did not know. the fear was high no one stopped trying to help, incredible display of bravery, especially on the part of the pentagon police folks they were wonderful, they were just great. >> host: did anything in your years of military, your training, your experiences on navy ships prepare you for what you saw and what you personally had to do on 911? >> guest: fit anything? i would say everything did. that is what you do on a ship
there are no fire departments you can call on for help. no ambulances going to come. our training, everything we train to and teach our youngers is to overcome the fear, the instinctive go away from the disaster. go away from the fire, to overcome that and synchronized up with the rescue and the firefighting efforts, that is what we do as sailors. i will never forget some other navy folks going to the scene as others rightfully escaped and got to safety. so when that was my next question you just answered it. what motivated you to go, you had a friend you had a friend you want to see was say but what motivated you to go to
the scene. >> it was not just me, there were many like me. i think it was training, you mentioned my friends. it's training and a selfless service that we sign up to be a part of and that is who we are paid that is why we are in the military. that is what we do. i'm very humbled by what i saw that day, the heroism that i saw and the willingness to abandon personal safety and participate. not knowing what might come crashing down, but to try to help those who might be trapped for those might be still alive but unable, it was just incredible is very humbled by what i saw, to this day it moves me deeply. >> host: you try to get back in obvious of the conditions had worsened, the flames were intense, the heat was intense,
what happened next and what were you thinking? >> there was no way to get access in that direction to that part of the building. the thought was to try to find another way to get into the navy operations center and find my friend, find others who might be trapped in there. big pieces of the building has started to come down at that point. so the thought was, starting to be some coordination, some leadership, some first responder, professional first responders from fairfax county, folks with subsequent son haiti it was magnificent to see some of those same folks, running to the scene. so those leaders those true professionals started to arrive on station. a lot of activity outside some
of the grassy part outside by the highway. not a lot of that made its way inside at first. and then the fbi came, the first responders fire departments. i will never forget one guy from the arlington fire department he was the first guy there i saw had water he came over and offered it to me. that it was the first water i'd had to drink in two hours. i will never forget the arlington fire department they were just wonderful. >> guest: but it. >> guest: is clear at that point anyone who is going to get out had gotten out. there is a sense of relief to be alive, and sadness to know that there were people who weren't alive, who started the
day not having any thought this could happen and yet it did. i am often puzzled by the term victim only talk about the pentagon or the twin towers, or the field in pennsylvania. her brief people on that airplane. i don't think of anyone in that whole tragic day as a victim. a victim is someone who gets hit by a meteor a victim of chance. or gets mugged and robbed they are victims. the people who died on 911 were not victims, they were casualties of an act of war, of an attack in my case our military headquarters. so, it's interesting, that
afternoon to still be trying to help and to suddenly sort of gel there were folks trying to reconstitute the pentagon and the navy staff. and in the navy staff case people had walked up the hill to the navy annex the arlington annex for the navy where the headquarters for the marine corps. the marines, like they are, are our brothers. offered up space and weight reconstituted the navy staff there, are officer was in charge of that. we were in concert with her chief of naval operations we reconstituted and operations center. so, folks stayed at the pentagon to try to help her went up to reconstitute our operations with the marine corps. again magnificent display of
what you do in a crisis. you train forward and to see it actually happened was magnificent. >> i mentioned i was on the defense review, our report to congress, the secretary of defense report to congress is due on the 30th of september. in sort of a humor talking to some guises were trying to figure out what we could do to help, some a set i guess that's it for the report i guess it will be a delay. i was the groundswell from the younger guys. the word quickly got out and rightfully. it was such a motivating moment a defining moment for who we are, not only are we going to delay it we are going to turn it in on time, not only are we going to turn in on time we now have to
retool it completely because the world has just changed for our defense. it began an incredible couple of weeks as we redid the whole project. of course we had a good foundation for it. again it was a great reminder of this was our military headquarters. we got attacked but this is the united states. we are not going to let this stop us. we are better than that. of course were all coming to work tomorrow and we'll figure out how to work around this. but we've got a job to do that just got harder, okay, that is our challenge but we are up to it, that is what leaders do. again i have always been proud of being in the united states armed forces. i have never been prouder than i was on that day when i saw the leadership and the willingness to sacrifice on behalf of shipmates and fallen comrades, it was just magnificent. it was a day that changed
everything. >> host: what adjectives would you used to describe the scene? we saw the firefighters trying to bring down the smoke which continued for hours after the attack. but you were right there. early was very deliberate. to call it pandemonium or chaos would be a huge disservice and not accurate. they were small acts playing out. i mention there were four or five people caught behind a door who could not get out of a burning building it was a secure space turns out it was a vault for secure material. we've got that playing out. right next to that you've got another occurring or someone is dragging out a person who has just been crushed and taken them to triage. and then further down in the
scene you've got folks deliberately calm but at a quick pace moving the operation center, the chaos that the flames and that burning building but they do it not screaming, not yelling, not in panic very deliberately and focused away in the secondary route of exit they had been trained to apparently. i would say almost universally folks did what first of all they were trained to do and what they should have done. it was a great example of people doing the right thing. not just for them but for the common good. i don't mean to put too fine of a point on it but i am really proud of how we responded in the immediate minutes after and the ensuing day, i am very proud of that.
>> and bring your story back to your best friend. >> yes. so, did not find him. i had driven to work that day, my car was caught up in the first responder and subsequent response to emergency vehicle so i could not get to my car. so at 2:00 a.m., i am covered in soot, i only have one shoe, my uniform is in tatters and i am just exhausted and i have no car in my apartment is 3 miles away. so, so i walked to the highway, walked across the
highway, went into arlington and stuck out my phone for the first time since i was 17, hitchhiked at 2:00 a.m. in the morning dress like that. there are not many cars, cab drove by, stopped and backed up. i had no money he said that's okay did you just get done at the pentagon i said yes i was. he said well, god bless you and i'm glad you are alive. i sit me too and he drove me home, did not charge me anything. i got to my apartment, had a zillion answering machine messages, started plowing through them so i got to my best friend's wife lisa who said we have not heard from bob, have you heard from bob? there were six or seven, i just could not listen to them. because i knew in my heart and mind i knew. i called her and said i was just there, there are parts of
the pentagon's still sealed off, i'm sure he's okay, but he was not okay. an fbi agent found bob's mobile academy class ring that was the only thing that was found you could say it was bob's. so in my navy career, i have done scores of burials at sea. they have all been remains. it is a wonderful ceremony for deceased former military people of all services. you go out to sea, we stop the ship and had a ceremony. it is a wonderful service and a great tribute to our deceased servicemen and
women. there have always been cremains. a couple minutes after 911, i had the honor to accompany my best friends remains to the curve off of main port florida, his favorite port in mind too. it was the only full casket burial at sea i have ever done. bob's remains, i couldn't say what's in there, not much. i had the honor with bob's brother-in-law to bury bob at sea. he was my best friend. there is not a day that goes by that i do not miss him. i stopped wearing my navy ring that day it did not mean to me what it meant after that.
it's a ring you get as a second-class it's a big tradition thing. it just did not mean anything to me after that. i stuck it in my pocket as sort of a salesman, a lucky point at that point i could not where it ever again and didn't. so, i miss him he was a great guy. he's a much better naval officer that i ever dreamed of being pretty is a great dad, a great husband two, a great friend. >> host: how do you explain this to his wife and kids? >> it's funny we talk about service to our country. going to come up and shake my hand say thanks for service to our country because i'm wearing a uniform. i think of service to our
country, not as you just wear a uniform but it's what you do for your country. the most incredible service i have ever seen was done by bob's wife, lisa, with their two children becca and beau. they are a wonderful, wonderful young adults now. she picked up the pieces, up the pieces of broken heart and put that aside to continue to keep a home, to keep bob's memory alive. she is a true hero and others like her. but she is a type of hero. all the things that came out of this, is what lisa has done in the aftermath of 911. service to your country does not have much to do, i am
proud to serve in this uniform but there's a whole what more to serving your country and putting on a uniform. >> host: era reunited at gerry and dave at the smithsonian how did that evolve? >> i was approached by the smithsonian they asked if i had saved my uniform. i had forgotten, when i got back to my apartment i bundled it up in a trash bag and tossed in the back of my closet. i was happy to give that, i was reluctant to give away the name tag i pulled off of commander tarantino. it meant a lot to me. i'm not a big momento keeper. that was a momento i was going to keep. they were very persuasive in a very kind way explaining how important that would be as part of the history.
i donated it to the smithsonian. dave and i, and gerry hansen had never met before that day. to get acquainted after something like that was very interesting. and a moving experience for me too go to jerry's home, see his family and it's one of those, it's a wonderful life moment, he would not have been there if not for dave tarantino and i and that serendipitous happen to find him, happen to be the right guys to get him out. and that happy ending, that wonderful family embracing a wonderful man would never have occurred. one of the ironies there's many ironies i mentioned a couple others and since speaks of it, had flown missions over vietnam only to die at a desk
in the pentagon would have been the irony of it all except he didn't thank goodness. this defense review report was turned in on time and it was a great project and i was proud to be a part of it. even more poignant though to me is what happened over the ensuing 12 months at the pentagon. i was at the pentagon for another 18 months after 911 i had another tour there. and every day would go down and stare at the rubble, they destroyed part of the pentagon. and the word got out the secretary of defense rumsfeld had put out a challenge to the construction crew, remove the rubble and let's bring this place back within a year. i must tell you, to watch that
activity in the wake of the death, the attack, and the injured folks, to watch that reconstruction, the removal of the destroyed and the rebuilding of the pentagon, my office, my post, to watch that was incredibly inspiring. and frankly cap me and others going as we tried to put the pieces back of our personal lives and our offices and our destroyed projects and destroyed groupings of staff officers. >> host: for those who go to the smithsonian and look at the exhibit including your momento's, what you want people to take away from that? >> guest: first of all, i would like to think that people would never forget. that we, as a nation, must
always pull together in time of crisis and focus, and be united protecting our values but also protecting our nation. that is a delicate balance. that is it important to achieve. that's one of the most incredible and powerful messages that institution like the smithsonian specifically help promote. here in our nations capitol surrounded by all of those monuments to the goodness of our nation, to have those tangible reminders of how vulnerable those freedoms are, our liberties are and yet how important it is to not let that vulnerability drive us to some bad behavior. so keeping that message alive, and keeping in the setting of the smithsonian is the most
powerful piece of the whole display. so i would hope that when people visit 911, the display, they would remember our freedom does not come without some cost there is a need to be vigilant and to protect our freedoms. but also to remember those freedoms are more than just words and more than being able to do whatever you want. they are founding our constitution. they require all of us to actively participate and to support each other in our nation. that is what i take away from the pentagon memorial or the pentagon, the 911 piece of the pentagon display at the smithsonian. he went that navy with the uss in new york, uss arlington,
what does that mean for you? why does the navy seals feel compelled to have these vessels? >> we name our ships after great battles, great leaders, great location significant locations and events in our nations history. to have something tangible to inspire us. if you are part of the crew something remind you of the greatness of our nation and the greatness of our people and our ability to respond to challenges and overcome. i am very proud of all of our ships in all of our sailors. i'm especially proud to have that uss new york and that uss arlington as part of the ships i work with every day. >> when you went to bed early in the morning on september the 12th, first of all did you or to bed? did you get some sleep? >> no, i could not get to
sleep there's too much to think about. too many people to think about and try to member to call or write a note too. my mom, lisa, my kids, there was lots to do. i took a shower and got to it. >> host: what was racing thier head? >> guest: uncertainty about my friend but certainty. uncertainty about what to do next, how to help, what my office mates were going too. we had no accounting for many of them. trying to muster everyone and make sure everyone was okay and had a place to stay. many folks from the same boat i was where they could not get to their cars. so thinking that through, taking care of your ship mates taking care in thinking about
the mission we've got this project, where are we supposed to go? were to be work tomorrow? we sort of work that around a little bit, found additional space or another place to work. all of our files are inside this crime scene so you cannot get there. all of those big picture and small narrowly focused going through my head at the same time. >> host: at this point during this day are into the evening review able to put the entire day's events into perspective. what happened in new york, the downing of flight 93, what happened at the pentagon, the present returning addressing the nation, as all this began to unfold you were one part of this story. when did you take it into totality? >> it took weeks. it's important to get back to
work and do our job and make our part of the response of this happen. not to sit back but to take a pause and develop an overall picture of what happened. i did not watch tv, i did not have that opportunity for some weeks. just sort of catch up on the rest of the pieces. i think it many i worked with were very intent on doing what we needed to do to be part of first of all completing our project. the part of the bigger military response to what had occurred. it is clear from that first meeting that was adjourned of what i described earlier. it was clear there need to be some military response or some response above the military in
a big way. i did my best and did everything i could to make that happen correctly was the absolute focus of my intention and focus. i mentioned earlier that everything changed that day. i've always loved the military. i love what i do in the navy. i never felt it was more important to stay focused and give it my all after i did after 911. >> to remember that day as if it were yesterday? >> absolutely. i dream about it, i think about it, and some ways do you draw strength from some of the things you saw occur that day. so yes, i remember every moment of that day as if it just occurred. when you think your friend bob would think if he was here today?
>> he is a great guy, he was a deep thinker he was a strategic thinker. he would be as i am but a more eloquent way. very proud of what our nation has been able to do. i think, again it's like any death. it's such a tragedy at such a young age to lose such a leader and visionary. like i said i think he would be very proud of what happens as he reconstituted the move forward. folks he led, pulled themselves together in his memory and just got right back in the fight. it was a real tribute to bob's leadership. and him as a role model to see a rally and get back to it
despite the pain, despite the loss. so, i think he would be proud of what we have done. and also, i know he would be not only proud of what we have done but he would still be all in to continue to fight on any front he was that kind of guy. >> is the anniversary approaches the tenth anniversary, where will you be? how will you commemorate your role and 911? >> i will be at work. that is how i will commemorate my role on 911, just doing my job the best i can. making things happen the way i have been trained. the way our navy and our nation expects me too do it. >> are there any lessons for americans and america ten years later? >> great question.
i think just about everything i know about lessons i learned as a boy scout. be prepared, do your best to do your duty, to help other people at all times. our navy core valleys of honor code and commitment our ideals to live by. so i guess those are my lessons from all of this. having ideals and values and having some actionable guideposts like do your best, do you or do you help people. those are my lessons. they transcend like 911 and they apply to everyone. so i think being kind to people and doing your best and
making good things happen. >> host: final question, did you go back to the area that was hit by the plane after it was reconstructed? and if so what did you think? >> it was finished during my subsequent 18 month tour. i had the honor to arch present bush, rumsfeld mrs. bush and others rededicate the first anniversary ceremony was just wonderful. cathodic for many of us still there. i did not go back to the part of the pentagon that was destroyed for years. there's a chapel there now. i visited a couple times when it was first opened, when i was still stationed there.
i would like to think, we as a nation continue to move forward. that we remember, cherish, commemorate, and honor those who died who were killed that day. we honor them by our continued -- as our nation as we continue to grow and we strengthen ourselves as a leader of the world, as a model for the world. and so, going back to honor my friend, my fallen comrade, i do that now. i can do that and i have recently once or twice. it is hard though i will tell you it is really hard. because it brings it all right back. like it just happened. they do a magnificent job with
the visitors center. it is very peaceful. if you have not visited it is worth the trip. very poignant reminder of life and how fragile life can be. how enduring the world is and how our core value our nation's values are. >> it's worth a visit i do visit occasionally. it's not as painful as it used to be. i do it to honor my friends, my fallen comrades and those. >> veteran of the u.s. navy, thank you for sharing your story on 911, we appreciate it. >> you are welcome. ♪ ♪ watch book tv now on sundays at cspan2, or find it online @booktv.org.
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