I received this email from my father this morning — he sent it way back on Thursday but I’ve become really bad at checking my email.
Most of the attention has been focused on the World Trade Centers, which it should be since much more people were lost there and the damage is much more serious.
But the folks at the Pentagon have been somewhat overshadowed, and I want to post Dad’s email here to give them a bit of a voice.
Dear family and Friends,
I apologize for the long header on this e-mail, but I wanted to send this to you all at once rather than individually.
As most of you know, I was at a doctor’s appointment at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda on the morning of Tuesday, 11 Sept., and therefore was never in any danger as a result of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. And all my office mates were able to exit the building physically unscathed. This was likely due to the improvements made during the renovation: Kevlar inside the walls, support beams made of steel vice the concrete from 1941, and blast-resistant windows.
The Navy Office of Information’s office in the Pentagon was in the newly-renovated “Wedge 1”, on the B-ring (for some I will explain that there are five concentric rings), on the 4th floor, and off the 4th corridor (the corridors are the spokes of the wheel).
Some of you may already have this information; I will also apologize for redundency.
Today, with less than 24 hours notice, the CHINFO crew all went back into our spaces to pack up all that was ours and make it ready to be moved to one of the various “temporary” space we now occupy. (Many of us are now in Crystal City, a few miles from the Pentagon, almost at National Airport.)
Entrance to the damaged area of the Pentagon requires a sign in, donning one of those white plastic-cloth “bunny suits” with the attached feet and hood that you see the decon teams wear when shown in the news stories on television, a filtration mask and latex gloves. And so we were thus attired. (And the temperature in DC today was 85.)
Following our escort, we proceeded to the CHINFO spaces. Walking through this area was not unlike walking though a building under construction. Hand painted notations on the walls, some walls only just the metal framing, a string of worklights overhead, plywood temporary doors and walls, dust, dirt, etc.
The CHINFO spaces received no damage from the blast or from the fires directly. Every horizontal surface is covered by a very fine, oily soot. My guess is that it is the resultant of the burned jet fuel from the aircraft, and it came into our offices through the ventilation system.
The main part of our office space has apparently been contaminated by mold that is unseen inside the drywall. It will be all ripped out, the carpets will be taken up and replaced, and I’m guessing the modular furniture and
the fabric chairs will be trashed. Except for the invisible contamination and the visible soot, one would almost say the office was untouched.
Looking out my window to the “C” ring but 20 feet away across an airspace, it is a vastly different story. There the exterior walls are blackened with smoke damage, the path of the black smoke goes from the second floor
windows upward along the concrete towards the top of the building… looking like the make-up on ALice Cooper or perhaps Kiss. Most of the blast proof windows have been blown out from the inside; the metal frames bowed, also outward, and charred. At one second floor window across from Admiral Pietropaoli’s office (albeit two floors down), a tattered remnant of a curtain hangs limply through the gawping hole.
It is very clear that it was truly an inferno. The interiors of these offices are ash grey and soot black. I am told that the nose of the airplane came to rest in this area.
Windows on the third floor are intact but black as though spray-painted with a flat-black paint. Those on the fourth floor remain mostly transparent though some are tinted from the smoke and soot.
That was the view from my office window today.
Best to all,
Quite an email to wake up to on a gloomy Saturday morning.