- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

It was to be a light half-day at work and a full evening of love for veteran Pentagon budget analyst Odessa Morris.
It was her 25th wedding anniversary.
But horror pre-empted romance Tuesday when a jet crashed into the Pentagon that grim day. It left her husband, relatives and friends passing that anniversary night agonizing at the Pentagon, searching and waiting, erecting a fortress of hope around their hearts.
"Her office is where the plane hit," said Hopeton Mair, Mrs. Morris' friend of four decades. "Call it fate or destiny. But we have to hope that she is alive."
There was a litany of tragic tales yesterday in the aftermath of Tuesday's attack that ripped apart walls as it shredded lives. It was a story of determination and of dying hopes, of eyes reflecting shock and sometimes bitter resignation as family members searched for still-missing loved ones, or sought confirmations of their deaths.
So far, the Pentagon has not released any names of those known dead or missing. Yesterday, they created a family-assistance center at the nearby Sheraton Crystal City hotel, where officials could answer administrative questions, provide grief counseling and give families somewhere to go. What they wouldn't yet provide was closure.
"They haven't been able to tell us anything," Mr. Mair said.
So family and friends wait for word about:
Seat Pleasant resident Mrs. Morris. They wear Tuesday's rumpled clothes, hoping for news about the church treasurer and 32-year army veteran.
Finance employee Sandra Carver. The hands of her siblings shake as they show Sandra's picture, hoping it will help identify, or locate, their 38-year-old, vivacious, child-loving sister.
David Laycheck, 40, a resource-services office employee from Manassas with two young children. His father, himself a 31-year veteran now retired from the Pentagon, remained patient despite no news about his son.
"I'd like to see some information," said Robert Laycheck of Alexandria. "But I know they are working as fast as they can."
So far, details have been scarce. Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude was one official found dead at the wreckage and already identified, military sources said yesterday. The deputy chief of staff for personnel, Gen. Maude is the believed to be the highest-ranking military official killed in Tuesday's explosion, sources said. He also is believed to be the highest-ranking military official to be killed in hostile action since World War II, according to a retired army officer and historian who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Terry Lynch, former staffer for Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican, also was found dead at the scene, sources said. Mr. Lynch recently took a job with consulting firm Booz Allen and Hamilton and was doing work at the Pentagon when the plane hit.
Retired army Col. John McDonald remains among at least 74 missing Army and Navy personnel, Pentagon sources said. Col. McDonald, deputy assistant army secretary for international affairs, was on a task force to reorganize army staff.
The luckier ones, those whose friends or relatives remained in critical condition in area hospitals, expressed relief that they could account for loved ones.
Tuesday was Stafford accountant Louise Kurtz's second day on the job at the Pentagon. Her husband, Michael, agonized for hours after the air strike, waiting for word about his wife.
"I kind of paced for four hours wondering when the phone call was coming," he recalled of the time before learning that the crash left his wife with burns over 70 percent of her body. "When it came, I was glad to know she was alive, but burned."
Mrs. Kurtz is intubated, so she cannot speak, doctors said yesterday.
"[Tuesday] I saw a person like a mummy. I didn't recognize my wife of 31 years," Mr. Kurtz said. "Today I said, 'I love you.' She moved her head. We asked her to wiggle her toes and she did."
Yesterday, Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III visited the 15 remaining patients at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, speaking with all but one on a ventilator. The patient appeared cognizant and had her husband by her side, he recalled.
"I'll tell you, that's one happy husband ," Mr. Gilmore said.
Seven victims are in critical condition in the intensive-care unit. Mr. Gilmore described some of their injuries as smoke inhalation and burns. And he said their stories were pretty consistent: None of them heard anything until the explosion. Some became engulfed in flames.
"Some of them were in chaotic situations," he said. "The room didn't look the same anymore."
Rescuers pulled some victims out, while others made their own way out — by themselves or in groups, he said. Several jumped from second-story windows and one woman broke her leg in the fall.
"As she said to me, it was better to break her leg than it was to get toasted," Mr. Gilmore recalled. "Everybody has their own story in here."
For some, there are no happy endings.
"She's still dead," said Janet Carver of her sister, Sandra, although she has not received official word. "I am not going to stand up there like there is hope. Now I just need closure. I have to bury my sister."
Margie Hyslop and Gerald Mizejewski contributed to this article.


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