- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

One Pentagon employee is haunted by images of a burned hand that couldn't let go.
Another has worked 12-hour shifts protecting the Pentagon, unable and unwilling to pause to process the incomprehensible.
Then there are those, the missing and the dead, who have been remembered in impromptu memorials, in countless vigils and services, and in the aching hearts of their mothers, their brothers and friends.
Today, one month after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon will pause again to remember its loss. President Bush will deliver the keynote address at a memorial service, beginning at 11 a.m., at the Pentagon River Parade Field, along with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
One of the Pentagon survivors on hand today will be Kirk Hamlet. This, he says, is the second "second chance" life has given him.
In 1977, 38 of his friends died in the Philippines on a Marine training mission he had been scheduled to participate in.
On Sept. 11, the information-technology analyst left a meeting to grab a cup of coffee a meeting directly above where a plane bored into the Pentagon. Seconds later, in a restroom down the corridor, he was thrown across the room shaken, but alive.
In the past month, Mr. Hamlet has resumed working in a new office. He says he has a hard time thinking about the future when the present is so vivid in his mind.
He sits at his computer, distracted by the memories of dark-gray smoke, of pieces of an exploding firetruck thrown everywhere and by Antoinette Sherman, who he carried to an ambulance with severe burns. Mrs. Sherman held his hand and prayed, unable to let go. She died a few days later of her injuries.
"I can't get the images out of my head," he said. "And I am never going to forget her. It's a long-term thing, to get over this."
While an employee held the collapsing ceiling in place, Pentagon police Officer George Clodfelter and his colleagues were the first to plunge into the smoke and debris to find survivors in those minutes after the crash. They pulled out employees whose clothes had melted, some covered with debris, burns and blood. They saved dozens of people as the building started collapsing around them.
"I heard people screaming," Officer Clodfelter recalled. "The fuel and debris were raining down on us. The smoke was so thick, we couldn't see."
Since then, Officer Clodfelter and Officers David Webster, Mark Bright and Arthur Rosati say they are still shaken by an event no amount of training could prepare them for. But they say they must keep working in order to fulfill their duty to protect the Pentagon especially in case of another attack.
"I was shaken and at one point, I couldn't look at the crash site anymore," said Officer Clodfelter, 45. "But I have a job to do and I am going to do it."
Officer Webster, 31, says he has become more aware and cautious.
Officer Bright, a witness to the crash, says spending time with his children helps to chase away images of the whistling plane smashing into his building and into his people.
Officer Rosati, an Army reservist trained in anti-terrorism techniques, worries about being called into his other service and about properly equipping the Pentagon force in case of another attack.
And they all express regrets they couldn't save more people.
"I have grieved a little," said Officer Rosati, 45. "But now is not the time. We have a mission."
Family and friends attending a Calvert County memorial service last week for Pentagon Army contractor Edmond Young Jr., 22, got an unexpected surprise: a stranger, expressing his grief for the victim, brought his crane to the multistory church and draped a huge American flag over it.
"You could see it for miles," said Marvene Young, 32, Mr. Young's sister. "But this has been typical of our experience the past month."
A music teacher volunteered to play trumpet at the burial. Neighbors and friends and strangers called, brought food and care.
It has been a long month, Miss Young said. In that time, they searched for Mr. Young. They hoped and prayed for his safe return. They held family meetings and received care, comfort and commiseration at the Pentagon family assistance center and from their personal casualty-assistance officer, Sharon Swartworth, who lost 30 of her own friends. They have visited the site twice. Then on Sept. 20, the remains of the beloved brother, son, nephew and friend were identified.
As time goes by, Miss Young says, it gets harder.
"The company is gone and you have a chance to take all this in," she said. "Then you come to realize that life will never be the same again."

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