9/11 at the Pentagon: “Tarantino and Thomas crawled through burning wreckage to free Jerry Henson, who was trapped in debris.”

Some of those at the Pentagon on 9/11 were honored by the Washingtonian. The citation:


On September 11, 2001, we watched firefighters, police officers, members of search-and-rescue teams, military personnel, and civilians give new meaning to courage under fire. They entered the inferno that was the Pentagon, putting themselves in harm’s way to help others.

Five of those heroes are honored here. They represent hundreds more who went beyond the call of duty. They were joined by anonymous passersby who saw the fire and raced to help.

Lieutenant Commander David Tarantino, a Navy doctor, and Navy Captain David M. Thomas Jr. were in their Pentagon offices when the hijacked airliner hit the building. Tarantino and Thomas crawled through burning wreckage to free Jerry Henson, who was trapped in debris.

Robert Dubé, a member of Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue, was part of the reconnaissance team that went into the burning Pentagon, searching for rescue sites. For days after the crash, they buttressed the building to keep it from collapsing on victims and rescuers.

Arlington police officer John Ritter was off-duty when the plane hit. He went to work and immediately was dispatched to the Pentagon. Finding no ambulances to get the injured to hospitals, Ritter and fellow officers arranged volunteer brigades and cleared the way to transport the wounded.

Army Chaplain Alvin Sykes saw the fire through the window of his Crystal City office. He walked to the Pentagon and joined an emergency extraction team to search for survivors. Later, he and other chaplains formed a “chain of dignity” to say blessings over the dead and to pray with the searchers.

Arlington County firefighters raced to the Pentagon. For 16 hours, they burrowed through black smoke and burning debris, looking for victims and containing the fire.

Some Washington fire and rescue workers went to New York as volunteers in the search-and-rescue effort at the World Trade Center.

“We all gave some because some gave all,” says Laytonsville volunteer firefighter Luke Hodgson.

A link to the story of 9/11 in Washington, by Tom Philpott, published in the November 2001 Washingtonian.

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