20th anniversary of 9/11 stirs painful memories for Pentagon survivor Jeff Hammond

Retired U.S. Army Major General Jeff Hammond was a colonel at the time of the September 11th terrorist attacks. He was ordered to establish contact with the Army Chief of Staff from the Army Operations Center in the Pentagon’s basement just before hijackers flew AA Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Had he not obeyed the order, he would have been the 185th person killed in the Pentagon attack.

“I cannot, even if I tried, forget the scene in the Pentagon on 9/11. Incredible people who didn’t deserve to die who moments before were alive as much as you and I are today. Heroic people saving lives. The smell of jet fuel burning the Pentagon roof. The numbing view of my office crushed like a soft drink can. The Pentagon courtyard transitioning to a medical triage point, and in some cases, a morgue. The sadness of seeing the great Pentagon gashed and burning,” he told Van Arnold of The Pine Belt News.

Hammond is now the director of the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families at the University of Southern Mississippi. September 11th and the colleagues and friends he lost that day and in deployments later are never far from his mind.

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