No Panic During Pentagon Evacuation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2001 Personnel who left the Pentagon after a terrorist attack said the evacuation of the building this morning was remarkably calm.
An eyewitness said a "large plane" crashed into the Pentagon near the heliport on the west side of the building. At press time, about 30 Pentagon workers reportedly had been hospitalized; there is no word on fatalities.
One Army lieutenant colonel who worked near the building segment hit by the plane said everyone in his office was gathered around the television watching coverage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City when the plane crashed into the Pentagon.
"We felt a thump and saw the flash," said the colonel. "All of us and others gathered and went toward the site. We couldn't get close."
The colonel said all the people in his section evacuated and met outside the building. "There was no panic," he said. "Most people went in a calm and orderly way." He said it wasn't until after he and his mates left the building that they realized the extent of the damage.
The Pentagon was built in 1941 out of reinforced concrete. It is laid out in five concentric pentagonal "rings," the "E" being the outermost and "A" the innermost. The jet cut the building like a knife. It did not penetrate all the way into the center courtyard, but did reach the "B" ring.
Beyond the heliport, where the crash occurred, authorities set up a triage site. Military medics and civilian emergency care providers worked together to provide aid. Civilian firefighters from many jurisdictions joined to fight the blaze.
Many officers, NCOs and civilians volunteered to aid emergency care providers in helping rescue victims. The volunteers staged on Washington Boulevard. Beyond them was a makeshift heliport that evacuated the most seriously injured to medical care.
As of 3 p.m., firefighters were still trying to put out the fire.