Jonesborough resident recounts surviving 9/11 attack inside the Pentagon
By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Last Friday morning during a Patriot Day remembrance ceremony hosted by the local American Legion post, retired Army Col. Thomas Evans recounted the only meeting he missed in 32 years of active military service.
That meeting happened inside the Pentagon on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Evans, who now lives in Jonesborough with his wife and son, was supposed to be briefing Lieutenant General Timothy Maude on a new project that morning.
But before Evans could make his way to Maude’s office, he was called over to a television screen where the attacks on the World Trade Center played out before his eyes. At one point, Evans recalls asking the rhetorical question, “What’s next?”
“At 9:38, I felt the explosion,” Evans told those gathered at Memorial Park. “I saw the tail of American Airlines Flight 75 fall by the window of the office I was sitting in. I immediately sprang to my feet and went out into the hallway as the smoke enveloped the corridor. The smell of jet fuel was staggering.”
As he evacuated the Pentagon, Evans recalled the first responders flooding into the building in an effort to save lives. He used the opportunity to applaud our local first responders who were on hand Friday morning to mark the anniversary of 9/11.
Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy and Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock gave their remarks during the ceremony, and State Senator Rusty Crowe presented a proclamation to local first responders on behalf of the State Senate.
Johnson City Police Lieutenant Becky West rang a bell for the victims of the attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon as well as the passengers of United Flight 93 who died while taking control of their hijacked plane.
As he wrapped up his speech, Evans recalled the rush of emotions he felt when he found out Maude and five of his colleagues had died in the attack. The experience left him feeling an enormous sense of responsibility.
“To this day, I do not know why I didn’t go to that meeting,” Evans said. “I never missed a meeting except for that one on that day. So all I can do is share my experience and hope that we live up to the mantra of 9/11 and never forget.”