Hero Dogs of 9-11

They love us to death and some die for us too.  Read about these heroic dogs from 9-11, whether trained canine officers or emotional support animals.

Today we remember and honor the Hero Dogs of 9/11 along with the countless people who had their lives irrevocably changed by man’s best friend. From search and rescue dogs to comfort dogs to bomb detection dogs, these canines’ stories of courage, healing and long-lasting legacy must never be forgotten.

I learned about this article from DC Gilbert’s Forever in Our Hearts.

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September 11, 2001 Documents from the Library of Congress

Where were you on 9/11? What do you remember most about that day?

I was at work at the National Defense University Library in Washington, DC.  I remember how lovely that Tuesday way,  low humidity, bright sunshine and a feeling that the day could not get any better.

After 7 am, we heard people saying “Turn on the television. A plane has gone into one of the two towers of the World Trade Center.”

We gathered around a television set up in one of the library training rooms. Some of the university administration rushed in and out of the room as they compared what was on television with what they could get officially back on their computers and blackberries.

When another plane hit the second tower, we were confused as to whether this was a second attack or a re-run of the first attack.
After we heard that a plane had hit the Pentagon, they decided to send us all home. Some of us decided to  leave later because of the infamous DC rush hour traffic so we had an impromptu picnic outside.

On my way home, I drove past the Navy Annex while going south on I-395. Seeing the that American flag still waving up the hill while I could see the Pentagon burning in my rear view mirror was one of the most uplifting things I could have seen that dreadful day.

We came to work the next day and waited in long lines outside the gate as four soldiers checked each car inside and out, plus ran a long mirror on a pole to check the undercarriage of each car. (We probably been told not to come into work but nobody thought that far ahead.)

The Library of Congress has  put together an online account of September 11th, memorabilia and documents.

Based on a similar project created after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project documents eyewitness accounts, expressions of grief and other commentary on the events of September 11, 2001. Included in this presentation are photographs, drawings, audio and video interviews and written narratives. Of special interest are interviews with people who were in Naples, Italy at the time of the attacks

Escape from the Pentagon

Ann-2016On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Ann Parham arrived early at the Pentagon, like she always did.   As Chief of the Army Library Program, she was responsible for establishing policy for Army Libraries around the world.  She had been stationed in Korea, Germany and the United States.   At fifty-eight, she was at the apex of her 35-year career.  Her beige linen dress, purple silk jacket, and low-heeled beige pumps were professional and practical, well suited to her trim athletic build.

pentagon layoutAnn’s office was in a newly renovated wedge of the Pentagon, iconic home of the Department of Defense. The five-sided Pentagon was made up of five concentric, separated rings and five floors.  The center courtyard was a park-like setting, providing a short cut from one side of the building to the other.  Ten corridors intersected the five rings like spokes on a bicycle wheel.  From the air, the Pentagon looked like a target, with the courtyard as its bulls-eye.  Ironically, September 11 was the 50th anniversary of the initial groundbreaking ceremony for the Pentagon.

pentagon layour colored.jpg

The sky was a bright blue and the air was clear and crisp.  Ann was working at her desk in the open bay, that she jokingly referred to as Dilbertville, after the cartoon strip.  She heard people talking in the cubicle next to her.

“A plane has hit the World Trade Center Tower!”

Curious, she left her desk and joined four or five of her co-workers who were watching the TV at Marian Serva’s desk.  As they watched the news, a camera panned to a second plane flying directly into the second tower.

“We are at ground zero,” said Marian, a member of the Congressional Liaison group.  Ann would learn later than Marian was burned during the plane crash and died at her desk.

Pentagon-damaged wall“This is war,” replied Ann, as she stood with her back to the D-Ring offices and the outer most E-Ring. Being this close to the outer-ring makes me nervous. She decided to return to her desk.

She remained at her desk a few minutes to gather up some papers she needed to fax to Fort Benning, Georgia.  Returning down the aisle of cubicles from the fax machine, she had reached the support pillar at the end of the aisle near her desk when she felt the building shake.  A plane’s hit the Pentagon.  It was 9:37 a.m. when the plane struck the outer ring on Pentagon’s west side.

pentagon--area of impact           The force of the impact knocked her to the floor amidst falling pieces of ceiling tile. We are under attack.  The concussion blast knocked out the lights and turned on the sprinklers.   Ceiling tile hit her on the head—she would find some of it later in her jacket pocket.  She smelled burning hair.  Her face, eyes and the backs of her hands felt burned, but it was too dark to see them.  She put her hand protectively on the top of her head.  She realized that her hair, short brown, with red highlights, was singed.  Her hair was wet and smelled like kerosene.  Some of the drops fell on the front of her beige dress. Wonder what this is?  Later, she would discover they were a mixture of jet fuel and sprinkler water.  Out of the corner of her eye, she saw flames in the north-east corner of the room along the E ring wall.  The heat was intense, burning her right ear.  Oxygen was being sucked out of the air.  If I don’t move I will be burned or suffocate.  My mother will not be happy to get that news so I better get out of here.  Thoughts of her mother motivated her to keep moving.

   Beige dress with fuel and water marks.  Blue jacket with burn marks

Ann's remaining shoe Ann felt her way out of the room, running her hand along the cubicle desks and inching through the white haze. This seems like I’m in a fog.   She hobbled along wearing one shoe. She had somehow lost her left pump and the little toe on her right foot hurt.  Her pantyhose had shredded when she fell.   Should I remove my shoe?  No!  Is this where I will die?  Need to keep moving.

                                                                                             Ann’s remaining beige pump

 Although there had been people in the open bay before the plane crashed, where is everyone?    I feel alone.    Patrick was just at his desk.

Patrick was a civilian information specialist whose cubicle was next to Ann’s.  He was in his late forties and a former Army officer.

“Patrick,” she called as she stumbled.  The silhouette of a military officer beckoned to her.  It seems like a light at the end of a tunnel.

Patrick approached, taking her right arm.  They continued toward the door together.   Patrick’s white dress shirt, dark pants and tie were covered in liquid.  His arms were red and burned.

Later Patrick would tell her “Ann, I saw you silhouetted against the flames when you called me and I turned back.”

From the E-ring, they walked the length of the open bay (the equivalent of the D and C rings –about the length of twenty 6-foot wide cubicles.)  Making a dogleg turn to the right, they entered the fourth corridor for about twenty feet.  As they exited into the corridor, they quickly passed an officer lying face down under a fire hydrant.  A few people stood around the officer.

After they passed the downed officer, the two turned left into the second bay that took them to the A-ring, the Pentagon’s shortest way around.   I feel more relieved away from that fire.

“Patrick, my face, eyes, and hands are burning so badly that I want to go to the restroom to wash.”

“We need to keep walking.  We have to get out of the building.”  He made no mention of his own burned arms.

Pentagon--overhead view of the damage“Let’s not go to the courtyard.  I’m afraid there might be a second plane that could hit us.”   Patrick agreed.

They started to walk toward the Mall entrance, but it was packed with dozens of people. Nobody was running in panic; people were walking with a purpose.  Some people were burnt and tattered like Ann and Patrick.  Some of these people look like it’s just a fire drill.

“This crowd of people is making me claustrophobic,” she said.  “Let’s try the River Entrance.”  The River Entrance was on the north-east side of the Pentagon, which was opposite from where the plane had hit..

“I’m never going back in that building.”  By now they had walked almost half way around the Pentagon, about one half mile.

pentagon--people outsideAs they walked through the River entrance, Ann did not want to look at people.  Seeing them react to the way I look would scare me even more.  She could hear people talking, but did not catch anything they actually said. The back of her purple jacket was scorched and torn.  Patricks’ white shirt was wet from the sprinklers and torn; his arms were red with burns. They continued across the parade ground on the Potomac River side, down to the road.  Cars were parked haphazardly.

Ann did not remember who directed her and Patrick toward the Defense Protective Service, which was the Pentagon police force.  One of the police officers tried to find them an ambulance.  When he could not find one, he put them into his Defense Protective Service car and drove them to Alexandria Hospital.  The Pentagon was about 6 miles north of the hospital, along Interstate 395.  Ann used to live near the Hospital and tried to give the officer directions.  I am so agitated right now, those directions aren’t right.  This is taking too long.

As soon as they got to the hospital, she sprung open the door and ran into the hospital Emergency RoomPatrick followed her at a walk.

“We’re from the Pentagon,” she said.  The emergency room personnel took one look at the two of them, smelled the jet fuel, and sent them to the decontamination showers.  My DoD identification badge has curled from the fire. My eyesight is almost normal as soot washed out of her eyes.  She found out she had second degree burns on her face and hands.  Her little toe was broken and she had a gash on the top of her foot.  Her ear was badly burned and she had lost a two inch patch of hair on her head.

It was now about 9:45 a.m. and they were the first people from the Pentagon to arrive at the hospital.