It had been too many hours without hearing about the fate of his wife, Pentagon worker Patricia E. "Patty" Mickley, so Joe Mickley and a cousin drove from his Springfield, Va., home along eerily barren roads to the scene of the devastation.
Joe Mickley, a Department of Defense accountant who works in an office a mile away, used his credentials to clear two police checkpoints. "We entered the controlled area," Mickley said. "I could have walked up and touched the building."
Mickley asked two colonels if he could assist in the search.
"The fires were still flaring up," he said. "It became pretty evident that based on how hot it was, how smoky it was and how much damage they were having to go through that it was a grim situation. It was just a horrifying feeling. They were right not to let me in."
Patricia Mickley's work cubicle was just 400 feet away from where he stood at the time. "We're guessing that she personally may have been within 30 feet of the nose of the plane."
Career employee Mickley, 41, was most likely working at her desk as a Department of Defense financial manager at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into it about 8:39 a.m. CDT, her husband said.
"She loved her job," said her husband, who said they met at the Pentagon. "She wasn't so much of a numbers person, but when you're doing a budget you really get to meet a lot of people and ask how much money they need. That's what she really loved about it--the people."
Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.