Although I never personally met you Sir, we have been drawn together. Ironically, I found your ID card in the wreckage at the Pentagon (specifically the Navy DCOPS area) while searching for victims in the aftermath.
Being an active duty soldier, I was overwhelmed as I sifted through the debris and found your “retired” ID card. I noticed the peculiar spelling of your last name (resembling so close the symbol for which makes our Country so strong and determined). Your ID card was unscratched.
I went back to our command post where I looked to the list of the many missing Pentagon workers to see if your name was there. I assumed you were working in the Pentagon as a retiree, but I was mistaken.
In a fateful twist later on that day, I received a voice message from a family friend of my in-laws asking how I was doing. I had only met this woman maybe 3 times in the past 20 years.
You see, she is a career sailor previously assigned to the Pentagon (and Navy Annex) until just recently, and had been told by my in-laws that I was conducting search and rescue operations. I called her and thanked her for her concern, and we talked about how she had worked in the area that had taken the brunt of the impact of the terrorist attack. She reminisced about looking out the windows over to (and from) the Navy Annex, and that she lost many a friend and sailor on that day.
She went on to talk of the tragic loss of her most influential commander of her career - who was on the hijacked plane. When I asked her what the name was, she said Admiral Bud Flagg! I was in shock. I had been working tirelessly for over 5 days when I talked to her, and I immediately broke down (and still do when I speak about this).
As service member assigned here in the Washington, DC area, and personally knowing some of the victims, it has been so difficult to deal with the tragedy - especially of being witness to so much death and destruction.
I can only imagine your family’s loss, as well of that of the many, many Sailors you have touched throughout your distinguished career. I salute you, and your family for all you have done for this grateful Nation.
First Sergeant R. S. Gould, US Army