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In Depth | Health | Science | Government | Region & State
Thursday, May 23, 2002

Pentagon toll at 190

The army suffers the heaviest losses, among them a three-star general.

September 14, 2001

The New York Times

ARLINGTON, Va. -- As rescue workers clawed through wobbling wreckage, the Pentagon announced Thursday that 126 service members and civilians were missing and, officials said, presumed dead, raising the death toll from Tuesday's terrorist attack in the Washington area to 190.

The toll, including 64 passengers and crew members aboard American Airlines Flight 77, was comparatively low, given officials' initial fears and the exponentially higher number of casualties in New York City. Even so, the toll in Washington alone exceeds the 168 deaths in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which had been the worst terrorist attack on American soil.

Officials inside the Pentagon and rescue workers laboring outside for a third day held out hope that some of the missing might yet be found in the charred ruins of the Pentagon's western side or otherwise accounted for, but that hope was dwindling.

The Army suffered the heaviest losses, including Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude, a three-star general who headed the Army's personnel division, according to officials.

Altogether, 21 Army soldiers and officers and 53 civilians who worked in the Department of the Army were killed, many of them from the service's budget and personnel offices.

The Navy reported that 33 sailors and officers, along with nine civilians, remained missing. They worked in a variety of offices, including the Navy's operation center, which was damaged in the attack. Ten other missing people were from other defense agencies, including seven from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The hijackers slammed the American Airlines 757 into a newly renovated wedge of the Pentagon. Many survivors in the building credited new defense features, like shatterproof windows, for saving many lives and keeping the toll lower than it might have been.

By late afternoon, firefighters and rescue workers had so far managed to remove only 70 bodies from the building, their work hampered first by smoke and fire, then by unstable debris and another tense, lengthy evacuation Thursday morning, this time because of a bomb threat.

Firefighters who had been working around-the-clock shifts recounted how their desperate efforts had been stymied from the start by repeated evacuations, including one in the first frantic hours on Tuesday when authorities believed a second attack was imminent.

"We were there about 14 hours straight, battling smoke in the dark. But the most frustrating thing was we had to keep dropping our gear and running for our lives when we wanted to stay and save other lives," said Andrea Kaiser, a firefighter from Arlington County.

Capt. Robert F. Wirtz, also of the Arlington County Fire Department, said the military authorities had twice warned that radar stations had detected airplanes headed toward the Pentagon, forcing rescuers to drop their hoses and axes and race from the building, raising the question of whether other victims could have been saved in early hours.

"That was everyone's biggest fear: another attack on the Pentagon like the World Trade Center," Wirtz said.

The damage to the Pentagon was extensive, compounded by smoke and water damage from the tenacious fires that burned for a day and a half after the attack. About 40 percent of the building remained closed Thursday, even though most of the Pentagon's 24,000 workers returned to work, doubling up in offices in the Pentagon or in spaces nearby.

One official said the scope of the structural damage is still not clear, since engineers had not been able to reach the core of the wreckage. But there was little doubt that the Pentagon's distinctive, five- sided building would be restored.

Officials said it would take at least a week for workers to remove all the remains of the victims - some may never be found, they said - and begin the effort to shore up the building. All day, trucks moved in and out, carrying away tons of rubble.

The Associated Press said human remains pulled from the Pentagon were being taken to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be identified.

Reservists based in Los Alamitos notifying relatives

Members of the Army's 63rd Reserve Support Command, based in Los Alamitos, have been participating in the grim work of notifying Southern California residents whose relatives perished in the attack on the Pentagon, unit spokesman Ted Bartamus said.

Freedom Communications, Inc.

Copyright 2002
The Orange County Register
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