Sept. 4 - Ten years after the strike at the heart of America's military, survivors and rescue workers recall the Pentagon attack which killed 184 people. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Thirty-five minutes after the crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York, American Airlines flight 77 barreled into the west side of the Pentagon, the headquarters of America's military outside Washington. Cheryl Ryefield was on her way to work at the Pentagon when she heard a plane flying low to the ground. SOUNDBITE: Pentagon Public Affairs officer Cheryl Ryefield, saying: (English): "I heard the plane, a plane, right over my left shoulder. Looked up and it was totally out of place, and I was a little confused at first. And I looked and there was a plane coming over the hill, right between the highway and the Navy Annex," she said. "And, I knew immediately what it was. And, 'Oh that can't be; it's got to stop.' And, it kept coming, and it paralleled the side of the hill and sped up and waggled its wings. And I saw a little movement in the--, I think I saw a little movement in the pilot's window, and it sped up and just slammed into the building." Ryefield, like hundreds of other Pentagon staff arriving at the massive office complex that morning watched aghast from their vehicles and along the roadside as the building burned and rescue crew raced to the site. The plane penetrated three of the five concentric rings of the Pentagon. Michael Regan, a lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department entered the building to search for the dead and injured. SOUNDBITE: Michael Regan, a lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, saying: (English): "Most of the victims that we encountered right away were severely burned and, you know, that was from, probably, the initial blast," Regan said. "And then afterwards, as we went further, and searched further, further into it, the victims became less and less recognizable because they had been through a--, you know, they got hit by an airplane and when people get hit by airplanes or victims that are on airplanes, they come a part in pieces. So, we were finding hundreds of pieces of victims. They were just scattered everywhere" 184 victims were killed -- 59 passengers and crew of American flight 77 and 125 people inside the Pentagon. Inside the building, William Layer was on the phone with a friend in New York talking about the attack earlier that morning on the World Trade Center. SOUNDBITE: Pentagon survivor William Layer, saying: (English): "Well, when it happened I heard the explosion. I was on the phone with a friend. I said, 'I have to go.' I put the phone down. I closed up my brief case and put on my jacket, and proceeded to leave," he said. "I ran into one of my colleagues who was coming down the hallway from the Ladies Room, and she said, 'I don't have my purse,' and I said 'forget it, we are gone.'." The west wing of the Pentagon has been reconstructed. Few signs of the damage to the facade of the building are visible. A simple memorial to the 184 victims is situated nearby. On the 10th anniversary of the attack, U.S. President Barack Obama will visit the Pentagon memorial and, in the evening, he will attend the 'Concert of Hope" at the National Cathedral in memory of the victims. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters