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Old 09-19-2008, 12:00 PM   #1
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The Pentagon Memorial.....remember them....

'Lord, This is Really, Really Bad'


September 11, 2008
Richmond Times - Dispatch


FORT LEE, Va. - They remember the smell.
The day seven years ago is alive in the memories of three Army officials at Fort Lee.
They remember the shock, the chaos, the pain, the sacrifice, the heroism of that day. And then they remember the smell of burn ing jet fuel and of death.
"Sometimes the smell just hits me," said Chaplain (Col.) James E. Walker, 52, now the base chaplain at Fort Lee. "You can't get over it -- it's still there."
The Pentagon Memorial, in remembrance of the lives lost during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, will open to the public today from 7 to 9 p.m. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will attend a 9:30 a.m. dedication of the memorial.
At 9:37 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, five terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon -- the headquarters of the U.S. Defense Department -- in Arlington County.
The airliner's impact killed 184 people: 59 passengers and crew members on the plane and 125 people in the building.
The Boeing 757 penetrated three of the Pentagon's five concentric rings of offices. The plane's thousands of gallons of pungent fuel fed a savage fire.
Lee Ramsey was on the job as an Army civilian analyst in the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
"I could smell the jet fuel and ashes already in the air -- and you could feel the heat, even that far away," he said.
"I lost six friends" that day, said Ramsey, 55, a Chester resident who is a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War and Fort Lee's director of resource management.
Col. Gregory Johansen, who is retiring as the assistant commandant of the Quartermaster Center and School at Fort Lee, was an Army logistics staff officer at the Pentagon.
"If you've ever been around death -- I've been around death -- if you've ever been around burnt flesh, that's a smell you'll never forget," the combat veteran said.
That's what comes back to Johansen when he thinks of Sept. 11: "the smell."
The plane hit with a "ka-whoom" that shook the building, he said. "We had stuff flying all over the building."
Johansen went back into the burning, wrecked Pentagon to try to help others escape, though he was injured, disoriented and blinded by the smoke, dust and sprinkler fog.
"You could stick your arm out and you couldn't see 3 feet," said the Army ranger, who is 53 and lives in Colonial Heights. "Women were crying, people were yelling."
Johansen took hold of a man by the arm. "He yelled, 'That hurts.' I felt something funny. . . . It was burned skin."
That morning, Walker had intended to go to the Army's personnel command office, but he was in a Pentagon dentist's chair, getting a filling and having his teeth cleaned when Flight 77 hit the building -- in the personnel command offices.
"If I'd gone to Human Resources Command, I would have been a victim of 9/11 myself," he said.
Walker joined with other chaplains working with the emergency medical teams and the injured and the dying. "There were chaplains praying, touching shoulders, assuring them that God was there with them," he said.
"There was such emotion," said Walker, who now lives in Colonial Heights. "I said, 'Lord, this is really, really bad.'"
Immediately after the attack, no one really knew exactly what had happened, Johansen said, but sometimes, at great risk to themselves, men and women stepped up to take the lead to help others.
"You had great Army people, all the services, really, coming together," he said, "people volunteering to go back into the building."
In the days after the attack, the Baptist chaplain stayed on duty at the Pentagon to minister to the round-the-clock responders -- and the dead.
"We had to be there to pray for the [responders] shift," he said, "and the remains, the body parts, . . . to bring human dignity and care to those people we'd lost."
"It will be forever in my mind," Johansen said of the Sept. 11 attack.
"It's something that will be with me for the rest of my life," he said, "because I was there."
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