On September 11th, 184 people lost their lives at the Pentagon. Today, many people are surprised to hear that the Pentagon was ever a target in the attack, and even fewer know about those who escaped.
In this program, survivors — many for the first time — tell their stories. There are harrowing accounts of crawling blindly through dark, smoky corridors, leaping from windows to escape, reentering the inferno to find colleagues, carrying the wounded to safety, and tending to burned, unrecognizable co-workers despite the dangerous conditions that surrounded them.
At 9:37 A.M., American Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. Six crew members and 53 passengers were killed instantly. Flight 77 was the third plane to strike its target during the unprecedented attack on the United States. There was no protocol for this type of event, and chaos ruled the skies. Firsthand accounts from aviation professionals provide a bigger picture of the attacks in the air and at the Pentagon before, during, and afterward.
As a jet-fueled inferno spread though the building, the National Military Command Center (NMCC) filled with thick, acrid smoke, and computer systems came dangerously close to meltdown. If the NMCC, the nerve center of military operations, shut down, our military would not be able to respond to the attack. Site R was activated, and top military officials from the Pentagon relocated to the secret backup command center.
While building engineers fought to keep the NMCC online, survivors and first responders braced for impact from a second incoming plane. For some - including the first responders and survivors in our story - evacuation was not an option.
9/11 was a generation-defining moment, yet the individual acts of bravery and heroism that took place at the Pentagon remain relatively unknown. Even as the most devastating attack on American soil was unfolding, Pentagon employees acted fearlessly in the face of terror to save each other and our military capability.