Wood Honored to Remember September 11
Alexandrian Bob Wood, who worked at the Pentagon in 2001, will attend city's Remembrance Day for first responders with his family.
Alexandrian Bob Wood was working at the Pentagon as a top U.S. Army strategic planner in 2001.
“I had cancelled a meeting after the first hit,” Wood recalls. “My daughters had called to warn me and I had reassured them … Just as I hung up, with no warning, the plane hit the Pentagon.”
Wood and his family are encouraging people to attend the city’s Remembrance Day ceremony Tuesday, in honor of the first responders on September 11.
“It’s important for Alexandrians to remember that day – a day of sacrifice for those who lost their lives and a day of service for first responders,” he said.
Wood had closed his office door to review a document when the plane hit, he recalled this week.
“The plane hit below my office. It was a matter of getting out of the wreckage,” he said. The shock to the building threw him across his office and his office door wouldn’t open.
Wood’s civilian secretary at the time won an award for “how remarkable she was that day,” Wood said. She helped save his life.
“That day made me understand new assumptions. Things had changed,” he said. “The loss of life, the amazing acts of service and kindness from people who responded was a reminder of the very best of our citizens and our service first responders … I owe a debt of gratitude.”
After escaping the office and moving into the center of the Pentagon, Wood and others had to evacuate from there when they heard another plane was coming. He was in charge of accounting for everyone in his directorate and fortunately they suffered no casualties that day, though there were 125 people in the Pentagon who died in the terrorist attack.
They moved to Pentagon City, where they set up a command post at Macy’s. There was no cell phone reception and communications were down.
“This was a shock to our region, our city and our citizens that brought out the best in us,” said Wood, who spent a large part of the 1990s serving in Bosnia and a short time in Somalia. “Some things matter and some things are trivial … The remarkable collective energy and community spirit and sense of purpose was just an incredible thing to see.”
Eventually, after leaving Macy’s, he got on the subway, exited at King Street Metro and walked home to Old Town, where he found his extended family gathered around the television trying to make sense of what had happened.
“It was quite a reunion,” said Wood, a Republican who is currently running for a seat on Alexandria’s City Council. “We’ll all go to the commemoration Sept. 11. To have the whole family here in our hometown on a day that impacted us in our home is pretty special. We’ll be together … It’s very right for us to express our appreciation of first responders … and thanks to those citizens who were so effective that day.”
The city's September 11 Remembrance Ceremony will be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Market Square by City Hall and feature remarks by Mayor Bill Euille, Undersheriff Tony Davis, Police Chief Earl Cook and Fire Chief Adam Thiel.