The Center for Local History has recently digitized many additional photographs from the Community Archives taken at the Pentagon at the time of September 11, 2001, by Mike Defina, a fire captain with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire and Rescue Department.
National Airport personnel deployed to the Pentagon Sept. 12, 2001. L to R: CCT Mike Fetsko, Deputy Fire Marshal David Norris, Captain John Durrer, Paramedic Captain David Testa, Captain Mike Defino, Tech. Ralph Cornell, Paramedic Mike Murphy, Tech. Troy Hutchinson, Tech. Paul Purcell, Firefighter. Photo: Mike Defina.
These images are just a few of the Community Archives collection Records Related to the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks on the Pentagon, which is made up of textual materials, photographs, some memorabilia, and audio-visual materials. The bulk of the collection dates from 2001-2002 and features photographs of the aftermath and days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. (Note: some of these photos may contain sensitive or disturbing material).
That morning a westbound plane took off from Dulles airport, was hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the Pentagon. One hundred and eighty-nine people died in the crash, including the 64 passengers on Flight 77. On the same morning two more hijacked planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City, and a fourth hijacked plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died in the tragedy, changing both the country and Arlington forever.
Firefighters and first responders from Arlington County, Fort Myer, and Reagan National Airport were essential in coordinating the Pentagon rescue and response, arriving within minutes of the plane crash.
Arlington County Fire Department took the lead, establishing an Incident Command System across the region to respond to the emergency. Firefighters were able to get the fire under control on the first day, but it took three days to fully extinguish.
The images in this collection depict both the horrific nature of the crash and Pentagon fires, the resilience and bravery of the first responders, and many spontaneous memorial events.
A memorial of flags, flowers, and signs near the Pentagon following the September 11 terrorist attack. Photo: Mike Defina.
Additional physical materials in the collection are held in the Arlington Community Archives for research use, including many thank-you cards written by school children to the firefighters of the Arlington Fire Department, County Manager Ron Carlee's papers used during the response, after-action reports, ephemera from memorial services, and VHS tape recordings of memorial events.
While these additional items have yet to be digitized, those who wish to research them may use the online finding aid to determine which boxes or folders would be useful and/or contact the Center for Local History to make a research consultation appointment.
Oral histories from the five-year anniversary of September 11, 2001 are also available online in the Center for Local History's digitized Community Archive.
Arlington County Fire Department members pose with children in front of a mural created to thank them for their service. Photo: Mike Defina.
Do you have Arlington materials related to the events September 11, 2001 that you would like to donate?
The Center for Local History (CLH) collects, preserves, and shares historical documents that tell the history of Arlington County, its citizens, organizations, businesses, and social issues. Learn about how you can help to build Arlington's community history on the CLH Donation webpage.