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Profile: Nancy McKeown
Nancy McKeown was a participant or observer in the following events:
Diagram showing the area of impact at the Pentagon. The Navy Command Center is highlighted in red. [Source: Washington Post] (click image to enlarge)Edward Earhart, Matthew Flocco, and their supervisor Lt. Nancy McKeown are inside the Pentagon, watching the televised footage of the burning World Trade Center. They belong to a small meteorological unit based in the Navy Command Center, located on the first floor of the building’s southwest face. McKeown asks her two young aides to bring up New York on the computer because the Command Center is going to send some fighter jets there, in case there is another attack on the city. She orders them to program weather updates for military aircraft converging on New York. However, very soon after this, the Command Center is directly impacted when the Pentagon is hit, and both Flocco and Earhart are killed. [Washington Post, 9/16/2001; Reader's Digest, 9/2002; CNN, 9/8/2002; Newsday, 4/12/2006] Ronald Vauk, the watch commander in the Navy Command Center, is on the phone trying to get more fighters scrambled at the time the Pentagon is hit, though news reports say he wants them to protect Washington, not New York. [John Hopkins Magazine, 11/2001; New York Times, 11/17/2001; Baltimore Sun, 9/11/2002] At 9:24 a.m., NORAD had ordered fighters at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to scramble (see 9:24 a.m. September 11, 2001), though these will not arrive over the Pentagon until after it is hit (see (Between 9:49 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] According to Lt. Kevin Shaeffer, who works in the Command Center, just prior to the attack on the Pentagon, the watch section and watch leaders in the center are actively engaged in logging and recording the events going on in New York. He later says, “they all responded in exactly the way they were trained,” and, “Had the Command Center not been destroyed it surely would have been able to provide the highest levels of our Navy leadership with updates as to exactly what was occurring.” [Chips, 3/2003]
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:
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 ]
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 ] She yells out to her colleagues, “Bomb!” [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 31]
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]
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