- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2001

Sept. 11 marked Robert Hogue's first anniversary as deputy general counsel for the Marine Corps. In his fourth-floor office, TV and radio news reports told of planes crashing into the World Trade Center.
Mr. Hogue, 42, worried the Pentagon could be vulnerable because "all eyes were glued to TV." He got up and walked to the office of his boss, Peter Murphy. An explosion tossed him into the air.
"The floor buckled and separated along the expansion joint that separated Peter's office from mine," Mr. Hogue recalled. "The ceiling began to fall in, the lights came down. We could see the fireball rolling up past the windows."
The four persons in his office headed for the door, but it was stuck. Cpl. Tim Garofola wrenched it open. The hallway was filling with smoke.
"We headed south into thick smoke, holding onto each other like blind mice," he wrote in a Sept. 12 memo. "We could feel the heat from the fire and see flames through the floor."
Doubling back, the employees struggled to decide where to go before the building collapsed. Through the smoke, they heard a voice. "[We] heard someone shouting from the north end to follow the sound of his voice, that there was a way out," Mr. Hogue wrote.
"We followed the voice of a young naval officer and my new hero, whomever he is and made our way to the interior and on to the south parking lot. Many, many people were already helping."
Later, he peered back into the fiery hole, where he could see directly into the office of his boss. His own fourth-floor office was on the ground.
At 7 a.m. Sept 12, the deputy general counsel reported to work.
That day, Mr. Hogue e-mailed his colleagues an account of the incident with a "memory fueled by terror" and told them to "go home, hold your loved ones close and say a prayer for those who will never get a chance to do so again."
The day after that, he became angry and went running after having abandoned the exercise for a time because of a back injury. A week later, Mr. Hogue's voice softened and his eyes glistened as he remembered that "horrifying" day.
"We are carrying our pain and are moving forward," he said. "[My family and I] try to talk about it, but it is hard. It remains under the surface like a wave."
"I walked out of there without a scratch. It makes me feel ridiculous, even a whiner, to be talking about it."
Mr. Hogue said he tries to stress the good things born of the attack a 21-year-old Marine's courage in leading the group out calmly, his renewed reverence for the sacrifices and strength of those in the armed forces, the outpouring of support from around the world.
"The corporal that led us out of there, he's a kid," the Springfield resident said. "But to be so organized and together as to not break and run while buildings crumble around us, that tells me our Marines are disciplined and prepared. He actually stayed until I gave him the order to evacuate.
"Some actually went back into the building to find people," he said.
"I hope this event is an opportunity for us as a people to find the better angels of our nature, release them, feed them, let them grow," he said, quoting Abraham Lincoln. "Already, I am surrounded by heroes."

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