All posts in “Pentagon”

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Remembering When the Sky Turned Black – 11 September 2001

I remember, a sky so blue it burned your eyes to look up . . .and smoke that scarred your lungs;

I remember shipmates . . . and a piece of notebook paper listing for whom the bell had tolled;


We remember that for one brief moment it wasn’t New Yorkers, or Washingtonians, or businessmen or civil servants or Sailors or Soldiers or firemen or police who were attacked …

… it was America.

And whether transfixed in frozen horror at the incomprehensible images on our TVs or fleeing fire and rubble for our lives, we still came together as one nation, one people united…

Under a sky that was so blue it burned your eyes to look up …

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.” - Ecclesiastes 3

 

The 2996 Project: CAPT Bob Dolan, USN (Pentagon) and Mr. Colin Arthur Bonnett (WTC)

healing-field

“We Remember…”

With those two, simple and profound words, an extraordinary project was launched three years ago — 2006. Prior to the observance of the 5th anniversary of the attacks by Islamist terrorists on the US, a private citizen had an extraordinary idea of how to memorialize those who were lost. Bringing together members of the blogging community from across the country and around the world, his idea was to have individual blogs host remembrances and memorials of those lost in the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, the airliners used in the attacks and the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice in fulfilling their responsibilities. Rather than concentrating on the horror of the day though, these posts would emphasize all that made the victims special, unique – loved and honored by family and friends. Their humanity, if you will, in the face of an infamously inhuman act…

This blog, in its previous form, participated in that project and still claims membership under the current banner. To that end and in solemn observance of this, the 9th anniversary of the attack, we are re-posting the original memorial for Mr. Colin Arthur Bonnett (World Trade Center) and someone we knew and worked closely with, CAPT Bob Dolan, USN who was our Branch Head for N513 and who perished in the Navy Operations Center in the Pentagon.

These are but two of the 2,996 innocents who lost their lives that day. Pause and ask for Providential care and protection of their surviving loved ones on this day of somber and earnest remembrance… – SJS


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CAPT Bob Dolan, USN

Age: 43
Residence: Arlington, VA
Occupation: Strategy & Concepts Branch Chief (N513)
Location: The Pentagon

CAPT Dolan, 43, was working on the first floor of the Pentagon as head of the Strategy and Concepts Branch (N513), when a hijacked jetliner slammed into the building last Tuesday morning. The Florham Park native knew from childhood that his future was with the military, his mother, Joan Dolan, said. After graduating from Hanover Park High School in East Hanover, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in ocean engineering. His career subsequently took him to the Arabian Gulf to clear mines and to the Adriatic Sea as a combat systems officer aboard the USS Richmond K. Turner, in support of Operation Deny Flight over the former Yugoslavia. In 1994, CAPT Dolan served as executive officer aboard the USS Thomas S. Gates in the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf. From October 1998 to May 2000 he was commanding officer of the USS John Hancock, based in Mayport, Fla.

Capt. Dolan’s decorations include the Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Navy Commendation Medal (4), and the Navy Achievement Medal (1) along with numerous unit awards.

Bob loved to be at sea, but with each offshore assignment he deeply missed his wife and two children. His 20-year career took him to the far-flung corners of the world — Bahrain, the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean — but he still managed to keep in touch with the friends he made in kindergarten. He was a disciplined officer who made it his business to excel at every post, but he also was a “guy’s guy” who enjoyed grabbing a beer with friends. “Bob was a touchstone for many of us because of the person he was, not because of his accomplishments as a leader,” said family friend Mark Wallinger, who was best man at CAPT Dolan’s wedding. “He was a friend to everybody, and a hero to those who knew him.”

“He was a man who viewed service as a privilege,” his wife, Lisa of Alexandria, Va., wrote in an e-mail. “Bob Dolan was the best and the brightest this country had to offer to the altar of freedom.” In addition to his wife, Capt. Dolan is survived by his children, Rebecca, 15, and Beau, 9; his parents, Joan and Robert of Florham Park; two brothers, Christopher of Quakertown, Pa., and Daniel of Bethel, Pa., and several nieces and nephews. (Compiled from various sources, primarily consisting of The Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post)

  • We served aboard the USS Inchon (LPH 12) back in the early 80′s. The Inchon was the PHIBRON 6 flagship during the MARG 3 82 deployment. In September 1982, we put the 3/8 marines ashore in Beirut as part of the MNF and supported them until February 1983. Ensign Dolan was a part of that mission and earned one of his expeditionary medals as well as the NUC for his participation. I find it terribly ironic that a man who started his Naval career as part of a Peacekeeping operation in the Middle East would eventually fall victim to Middle East terrorists on 9/11.– Joe Netzel, Webmaster USS Inchon Association.

“One of Bob’s department heads on the USS John Hancock gave this picture to him when they made their last deployment. This was the ship he commanded for two years, and it was the ship’s last deployment because it was decommissioned shortly after. The picture shows Bob sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge. He liked being in the Navy; he liked being on a ship and being at sea. The ship’s motto was ‘First for freedom,’ which I’ve kind of taken on as our family’s motto since September 11. The picture just personifies his life; beyond being a family man, this was Bob.” – Lisa Dolan, wife

800px-USS_John_Hancock_(DD-981)_underway_1983 dolanRmem

In the midst of tragedy we often times find small offerings of light — a bright moment we can hold onto that serves to, if only for a moment, ease the hurt. Such was the case with Bob; I well remember the cheer this story brought our group when we first heard it as told here by CAPT Tempestilli (Class of ’79) on the USNA’s Alumni ’9/11 Remembrance’ site:

I must also share a brief and miraculous story with you. Last week, I received a phone call from an FBI agent working at the site of the Pentagon attack. He was a USNA ‘ 89 alumnus. As buckets of debris were being removed from the site, he noticed a Naval Academy 1981 class ring, which turned out to be Bob’s. (We Academy types are advised to have our name engraved in our rings because they always seem to find their way home.) I went down to the Pentagon to receive the ring. When I arrived, he was in his SUV with Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” playing on the stereo. As he handed me the ring, we hugged and cried together–the longest and deepest cry I have had since this tragedy struck. Enroute home, I stopped at Bob’s favorite bar in Alexandria, “Murphy’s,” and drank a beer with 4 other of Bob’s closest friends. We left Bob’s beer glass full on the bar as sort of a “missing man” formation. Lisa now wears the ring around her neck, just like she did the day of Bob’s USNA ring dance.


Colin Arthur Bonnett

Colin Arthur Bonnett

“Manners and a Motorcycle: In Memory of Colin Arthur Bonnett”

Age: 39
Residence: New York, NY, United States
Occupation: telecommunications programmer, Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc.
Location: World Trade Center


Colin Bonnett was a gentleman — a Harley-Davidson-riding, bodybuilder sort of gentleman. Born in Barbados, he had been raised with Caribbean good manners that said that a door was always to be opened for a lady and that her chair should be pulled out when she sat. He also had deep empathy for animals, and had recently rescued a stray kitten that had been wandering around his family’s home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He had an adventurous streak that put him on horseback with his 10-year- old son, Kody, on most weekends, or on his motorcycle. He pushed himself hard with a physical fitness regimen that included weight lifting, jogging, countless situps and no junk food. Ever. Colin’s natural graces helped get him his job at Marsh & McLennan, where he was a telecommunications programmer. In the early 1990′s he had been working as an assistant to a Manhattan veterinarian and was about to lose his job because the doctor was closing his practice. One of the customers was a Marsh executive who invited Mr. Bonnett, 39, to fill out an application. He was transferred to the World Trade Center by the company only a few months before the attack… (From the New York TIMES)

Others remembrances:

  • Lou Scorza: I did not know Colin, but my wife and I met his mother, Julia, at the last night of the Tribute in Lights, here in NYC in April. I remember she was just sitting on a bench, alone in her thoughts. We started speaking, and she related her story of that morning, and the horror and pain she and her family felt then and still feel everyday. Colin had a wife and son. It is evident in our conversations with Julia what a fine young man Colin was. I think of him often, and of his family. Julia is a wonderful woman who under the most horrible circumstances conducts herself with a dignity and grace possessed by very few people. May Colin and all the other victims of that day rest in eternal peace, and may God grant solace to the families. God Bless America.
  • Harold Boyce: I knew Colin personally. Even tho’ I had not been in contact with him in a number of years, news of this awful day and his death still naughs at my heart. I walked Colin to school on many a mornings from his home in Rock Hall, St Thomas, Barbados, to the St.Thomas Boys’ School. May the blessings of God be always with the family. Colin, enjoy the Angels until we get there. Keep our place warm, for we shall surely meet again someday. To his wife and son, tho’ I have never met you, you will always be on my heart and in my prayers. God Bless, And God Bless America.
  • Wade Gill: I can vaguely remember Colin as a youngster, a little younger than me growing up in Barbados in the early 70′s, I knew his immediate family really well (great folk). I can’t imagine what he went through in that crumbling building on September 11, just the thought of it bring tears to my eyes, “what a sacrifice” My heart go out to his family and all the love ones he left behind.
  • Ken Brandeis: I am of a similar age and had one child, similar to Colin. I just had a second and chose the name, Colin, because I wanted my son to help to continue the memory of those victimized on September 11. My heart goes out to Colin’s family.
  • William: I knew Colin casually through work. I heard through other co-workers that Colin passed away while helping others escape. I can not put words to my admiration of such a hero.
  • Mary Anne Prevost: Colin, you made the world a better place.

Having spent a fair amount of time deployed around the Caribbean, including Barbados, it is not hard to imagine the easy grace and manners Mr. Bonnett would have exhibited, it is one of the endearing characteristics of the region. Likewise is the love of life, of friends and family. All of this compounds the sorrow and loss to this world of someone like Mr. Bonnett… – SJS

‘We Remember. . . ‘ Nine Years Later

The sun has long since set – but in the darkened, borrowed office I notice little beyond the pale circle of light on the desk in front of me.  Before me is  list of names, some scratched out, many not.  The hand that just hung up the phone is now cradling my head – throbbing with the beginnings of a headache, but I hardly notice.  My clothes still smell of the smoke and sweat from earlier in the day – but I barely notice, because the words in the last call are still echoing in my head…

“He’s not coming home – is he?”  was the quiet voice that stifled a sudden sob.  “What am I gong to do?”

How do you answer?  What can you possibly say?  No stranger to death and the violence that often surrounds it – friends and shipmates lost in mishaps at sea or on the flightdeck, the question still hammers at you, hanging accusingly in the air in front of you…

“What am I gong to do?”

Nine years later that day and the the long night that followed lives with me still.  Of lost friends and shipmates, of courage, honor and commitment applied in real time, of duty to and honor for the fallen and their families.  And of another time that gave rise to another cry — ‘Never Again’.

In preparation for this weekend I was over at the Project 2996 site, an organization this site has been associated with since it’s inception, and there found a wonderful way that each of us may give recognition.  A prominent feature of Project 2996′s coat of arms is a red and white zinnia.  Zoe Falkenberg was the youngest of the victims that day – she was onboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon that in turn, destroyed the Navy Command Center where the Navy’s losses were incurred – including most of my N513 branch.  Zoe’s favorite flower is the Zinnia and her surviving family has asked that folks plant zinnias as a remembrance.  In floral mythology, zinnias stand for constancy (scarlet) and goodness (white) while mixed zinnias remember an absent friend…

This coming spring, I’m planting zinnias.  Lots of zinnias…

“We Claim This Sacred Ground…” Sept 11, 2008

“We claim this hallowed ground for peace and for healing. We claim it in affirmation of our strongest belief as a people: that every life is precious.”

- Robert S. Gates, Sept 11, 2008

An unbelievable and memorable day – and those words hardly do justice.  I was there for the re-dedication ceremony of the rebuilt section on 11 Sep 2002.  Then new stone, steel and glass formed the rebuilt ediface, but the wounds still ran deep only a year later.  Today, here we were, seven years later to complete the circle for absent family, friends – shipmates. The long walk down the hill in the cool, pre-dawn darkness offered ample time to reflect and recall a similar walk seven years ago but under different circumstances.  Instead of the sullen glow of a burning building reflected from a leaden sky and illuminated in spots by the efforts of the rescue and recovery teams, this morning it is in shades of blue and white with a flag above the point where the plane struck…

Already, at 6AM the crowd has gathered to pass through security checkpoints – one of those necessary, but ironic post 9/11 requirements.  It is a quiet crowd that moves with purpose to the bleachers and seats.  Old friends and acquaintances that haven’t been seen in almost seven years strike up brief renewals – a common theme is the wear of time, for though “only” seven years have passed, many look like they’ve aged decades, the side-effect of events seven years prior.  We would note (and not be the only one) later when the President spoke, he to has seemed to age significantly beyond our collective memories of seven and six years ago.

In South Parking, normally packed to the gills with the cars, trucks and motorcycles of those who work in the building, now there stands 2998 flags – a “field of healing” as it were.   One flag for each person who fell that day in New York, Arlington and Shanksvile.

The grey dawn shows flashes of red and gold, but these are quickly damped by the low, broken layer – fortunately there appears to be no hint of rain but it adds a pall of gloom.  The breeze is from the east and while not quite chilling it lends itself to an occasional shiver.  Or is it the foreshadow of the coming ceremony?

The ceremony begins with a prelude concert – all of which is wonderful, but the part that reached out and strummed the strings of your heart had to be the chorus of elementary students, the J. W. Alvey Elementary School Singing Sunrays.  At once in their shining faces you catch a glimpse of what is great about this country and the hope of its future.

As if egged on by their singing, the sun began to break through the overcast and before we knew it, we were fast upon the first moment of silence – at 0840, when the first tower was struck. Following a wreath laying the roll call of the 184 who were lost here was read.  Now, this was a first as it hadn’t been done at the re-dedication ceremony in 2002.   Now, gazing across the crowd, past the media and the podium, we cast our eyes on the memorial, the benches draped in dark blue awaiting their dedication and uncovering later.  For now, alone and unguarded, the cloth is brushed by the occasional breeze, which plucks at the fabric as names are read and pictures flashed back in the amphitheater.  Taps is played by a lone bugler posted on the roof, above the unfurled flag.  We well remember watching that flag being unfurled the first time, those few years ago, and the statement of defiance and strength in the face of evil it personified.  Today it is no less so though the smoke and rubble is long gone. And then the bagpipes struck up Amazing Grace…

—–
Bagpipe Salute

—–

Soon, too soon, it is time for another moment of silence – this time for our site.   And following, the hauntingly beautiful offering by Kitty Donohoe, ‘There Are No Words’ written the afternoon of Sept 11, 2001:

There Are No Words

there are no words   there is no song
is there a balm that can heal these wounds that will last a lifetime long
and when the stars have burned to dust
hand in hand we still will stand because we must

in one single hour   in one single day
we were changed forever  something taken away
and there is no fire that can melt this heavy stone
that can bring back the voices and the spirits of our own

all the brothers, sisters and lovers   all the friends that are gone
all the chairs that will be empty in the lives that will go on
can we ever forgive  though we never will forget
can we believe in the milk of human goodness yet

we were forged in freedom  we were born in liberty
we came here to stop the twisted arrows cast by tyranny
and we won’t bow down  we are strong of heart
we are a chain together  that won’t be pulled apart

- Kitty Donohoe, 2001

Unashamedly – not a dry eye in the area…

And now we are fast upon the the portion of the service where the memorial is dedicated:

Former SECDEF Rumsfeld:

Here beneath these sloping fields of Arlington National Cemetery, fields that hold our nation’s fallen, this building stands as a silent monument to the resolve of a free people. And so too this memorial in its shadow will stand not only as a symbol of a nation’s grief, but as an eternal reminder of men and women of valor who saw flame and smoke, stepped forward to save and protect the lives of their fellow Americans on September 11th.

Let it also remind each of us of those who have volunteered to serve in our nation’s armed forces before and every day since. Our nation’s military has stood strong in this new age of peril, determined that what happened here seven years ago must not happen again.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM Mullen:

“Even for all the pain, it heals us to come back here and reflect on the suffering and the sacrifice of that day,” American servicemembers serving around the world in harm’s way remember that sacrifice, and are dedicated to the memory of the innocents who died in the attacks. They are resolved that it doesn’t happen again – “I see it in their eyes — the eyes of every one of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who, at this very moment, stand watch anywhere, any time, ready to do their duty,” Mullen said. “The enduring resolve to take the fight to our enemies – those who brought the fight here – burns strong within each and every one of our servicemen and women. It is that resolve that will always return us here to this spot — this ‘vision-place of souls.’”

SECDEF Gates:

We know what took place, yet it is not easy to really grasp it – the moment that came, and went, and changed us forever. Succeeding generations will be further yet from that reality, making this commemoration, on the very flight path of American Airlines Flight 77, all the more important.
In light and in shadow – in granite, steel, and limestone – this memorial tells the story to future generations. They won’t directly feel the heat, smell the smoke, or know the horror of that day. But they will know, as the inscription says, that “We claim this ground.”
We claim this hallowed ground for peace and for healing. We claim it in affirmation of our strongest belief as a people: that every life is precious.
A poet said: “Not a truth is destroyed nor buried so deep among the ashes but it will be raked up at last.” The truth that survives the ashes, is this: the 184 are not forgotten. The others who died in New York and Pennsylvania are not forgotten. And we as a nation will not bow to those who so cruelly took them from us.
These are not the ruins of the attackers, they are the fortifications of  memory, of love, and of resolve.

President Bush:

For all our citizens, this memorial will be a reminder of the resilience of the American spirit. As we walk among the benches, we will remember there could have been many more lives lost. On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose: Pentagon employees ran into smoke-filled corridors to guide their friends to safety. Firefighters rushed up the stairs of the World Trade Center as the towers neared collapse. Passengers aboard Flight 93 charged the cockpit and laid down their lives to spare countless others. One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 9/11. And here at this hallowed place, we pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.

For future generations, this memorial will be a place of learning. The day will come when most Americans have no living memory of the events of September the 11th. When they visit this memorial, they will learn that the 21st century began with a great struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of terror. They will learn that this generation of Americans met its duty — we did not tire, we did not falter, and we did not fail. They will learn that freedom prevailed because the desire for liberty lives in the heart of every man, woman, and child on Earth.

And finally, there was the dedication of the Memorial itself:

to pause and reflect:
to remember:

And never, ever forget…






 

















Remembering Sept 11, 2001

Some number of years ago I had the honor of making the acquaintance of a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  A young seaman then stationed on the battleship Nevada, he related his story, his memories.  And as he talked about the aching beauty of that peaceful Sunday morning – of standing at quarters for morning Colors, and of how he still remembered the sound of the bugler’s notes right before the first bomb fell, I wondered.

I wondered how I would feel and react to a similar situation if it happened to me.

And I think I now know…and will never forget.

Continue Reading…

Eating the Elephant – One Bite at a Time

For those not so inclined to leap with both feet into the full Appropriations Bills (regular, continuing and sustaining minus the funds for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan), here is a Congressional Research Service study of current Defense Authorization and Appropriations bills with analysis of some of the more important parts (like shipbuilding – pg CRS-76, funding tables begin pg CRS-96).  As Julia Child would say – Bon Apetit!

 

Abolish SECDEF and OSD?

Interesting proposal in the most recent Joint Forces Quarterly centers on abolishing the position of Secretary of Defense and OSD. The full article is here.  Salient points include:

  • The office has too broad a span of control;
  • JCS advice is too often limited or distorted;
  • It has proved to be a source of unending conflict within and outside of the Executive Branch

The author makes some compelling points, and setting aside YHS’ own predilection to grind a particular axe, it would appear to merit further discussion.Comments?

 

The 2996 Project: CAPT Bob Dolan, USN (Pentagon) and Mr. Colin Arthur Bonnett (WTC)

"We Remember…"

With those two, simple and profound words, an extraordinary project was launched last year (2006). Prior to the observance of the 5th anniversary of the attacks by Islamist terrorists on the US, a private citizen had an extraordinary idea of how to memorialize those who were lost.  Bringing together members from the blogging community from across the country and around the world, his idea was to have individual blogs host remembrances and memorials of those lost in the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, the airliners used in the attacks and the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice in fulfilling their responsibilities.  Rather than concentrating on the horror of the day though, these posts would emphasize all that made the victims special, unique – loved and honored by family and friends.  Their humanity, if you will, in the face of an infamously inhuman act…

This blog, in its previous form, participated in that project and still claims membership under the new banner.  To that end and in solemn observance of the 6th anniversary of the attack, we are re-posting the original memorial for Mr. Colin Arthur Bonnett (World Trade Center) and someone we knew and worked closely with, CAPT Bob Dolan, USN who was our Branch Head for N513 and who perished in the Navy Operations Center in the Pentagon.

These are but two of the 2,996 innocents who lost their lives that day.  Pause and ask for Providential care and protection of their surviving loved ones on this day of somber and earnest remembrance…

"We Remember…" 

Continue Reading…

Remembering Fallen Shipmates – Part II (N513)

 Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

 

Yesterday, we remembered those we lost in the Navy Operations Center (NOC) who were from within the larger N3N5 organization.  Today we focus on those who were from N513 (note, the Branch Chief, CAPT Bob Dolan, will be part of the post for tomorrow, 11 Sept)N513 is the Strategy & Concepts branch, part of the N51 Strategy & Policy Division of N3N5. N513′s personnel were the folks who looked at "the big picture" focusing on warfighting concepts and maritime strategies in defense of the US and our Allied partners. This is the branch that in the past had worked on the Maritime Strategy and provided the basis of the Navy’s input to the National Security Strategy among other vital documents.

Husbands, fathers, sons – aviator and SWO; all were Sailors and all are missed.  Rest in peace…

Continue Reading…

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