!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News

(9:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Some Officers in Area Where Pentagon Is Hit Think Bombs Have Exploded

Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell.Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell. [Source: Molly A. Burgess / US Army]At least three Pentagon employees in the area of the building that is hit, and who narrowly survive the attack, initially believe that what they have experienced is a bomb, or bombs, going off:
bullet John Thurman, an Army lieutenant colonel, is in a second floor office just above where the Pentagon is hit. [Washington Post, 4/12/2006] He later describes the moment of impact: “To me it didn’t seem like a plane.… [T]o me it seemed like it was a bomb. Being in the military, I have been around grenade, artillery explosions. It was a two-part explosion to me.… [I]t seemed like that there was a percussion blast that blew me kind of backwards in my cubicle to the side. And then it seemed as if a massive explosion went off at the same time.” He will add: “I had thought that perhaps the terrorists had surreptitiously gotten construction workers to come in and place explosives.” [United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant., 4/11/2006 pdf file]
bullet Lt. Nancy McKeown is on the first floor of the Pentagon’s D Ring in the Navy Command Center, which is mostly destroyed when the building is hit. [Washington Post, 1/20/2002; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 30-31] She will recall: “[I]t initially felt like an earthquake.… It sounded like a series of explosions going off.… It sounded like a series of bombs exploding, similar to like firecrackers when you light them and you just get a series going off.” [United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant., 4/11/2006 pdf file] She yells out to her colleagues, “Bomb!” [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 31]
bullet Army Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell is returning to his second floor office, and is just yards from where the building is impacted. [9/11 Commission, 3/31/2003; Dallas Morning News, 9/7/2006] “Bomb! I thought,” he recalls of the moment the building is hit. [US News and World Report, 12/2/2001; Today's Christian Woman, 7/1/2004]

Entity Tags: Brian Birdwell, John Thurman, Nancy McKeown

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


Time period

Email Updates

Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database


Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
Donate Now


If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.
Contact Us

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike