All posts in “Project 2996”

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)


“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


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…