Retired District of Columbia Fire Fighter
I am a retired District of Columbia fire fighter. Retired for 10 yrs now. On the morning of September 11,2001 I was off duty and home. I received a phone call from my wife in a alarmed voice to turn on the tv due to the ,1st plane crashing into the WTC tower. I did just that and as we were talking the other tower was hit.
She being at work at a federal agency in DC said she would call me back. As I watched I decided to call a ex DC firefighter I know who had gotten into FDNY ,there was no answer. While looking at the news the camera for a few seconds switched over to a object that I assumed was a plane heading towards DC.
The station than switched back to the towers in NY than right back to DC showing the impact of the Pentagon being hit. This was followed by another call from my wife in a panicked voice asking to come get her. I put my uniform on got in my car and could see in the distance black smoke rising from the direction of downtown DC , it was the Pentagon burning. I must have accelerated to of 90 + mph on interstate 295 when I noticed a MPD ( DC police) car with lights and sirens trying to pull me over. I waved for MPD to come up besides me pointing to my fire department patch on my sleeve and the rising smoke of the Pentagon. He acknowledged , got in front of me and escorted me downtown. I existed to proceed to the agency where my wife was and witnessed the pandemonium of people leaving Washington to cross the bridges to leave DC into Virginia.
My wife was picked up by me by this time in a state of fear. We proceeded towards Pennsylvania Ave towards the US Capital when I realized that could be a potential target, traffic was very very heavy. I turned up 6 the street where the court buildings are stuck in traffic, got out my car , told my wife to drive and attempted to find another route when members of US Marshalls asked me to help clear traffic for them. I did and after directing my wife to drive on the sidewalk decided to stop in the firehouse in Chinatown. There I contacted my fire station and was ordered to report in to the Chinatown station.
About a hr or so the streets downtown were cleared and the military) police had it on lockdown. I told my wife to use her ID to get thur the checkpoints if there were any.
I got on a bus the fire department used to bus us firefighters there to the Pentagon. We arrived amid a sea of fire apparatus and other 1st responder vehicles and the mass devastation of the building with spreading fires. We were put into composite groups of 4 and relived those in the Pentagon fighting these multiple fires. The heat, thick smoke and lack of radio communication made this hell even more surreal. We were told to continue looking for survivors down the dark corridors, the only light was from our personal helmet flashlights and we were forced to crawl in the water that seemed to be boiling or steaming due I'm guessing to the still burning jet fuel or whatever it was below us.
We came across a few what I assume to be bodies and checked into a few offices that were clear except one , more dead in there. We had a new rookie firefighter with us who couldn't take this anymore , we crawled back and had him sent to triage relieved to be out of that hell. While outside laying down exhausted and down to 3 personal a 3 star general was going around with tears in his eyes thanking us.
It was not over for my group of now 3 firefighters. We were ordered to drive the hook n ladder truck , reposition it , hook up supply line s to it , raise the aerial ladder to help contain the spreading flames from the upper level of the Pentagon. We did until early in the morning of September 12th in which we were than relieved....the rest is a blur.