NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa., Sept. 18, 2019 —
Wednesday, Sept. 11, marked 18 years since the terrorist attacks and the employees of Defense Logistics Agency Distribution turned out to pause and remember with a special guest speaker. “It was a beautiful day,” said Col. (Ret.) Paul Abel, director, DLA Distribution J4, future operations. “I remember looking out the window. I used to tell my father about having a window in the Pentagon. When he worked there in the 1960s he joked about how they kept him in the basement.”
Abel remembers that at the first news of a plane hitting the World Trade Center he thought to himself that an accident like that had happened before with the Empire State Building when his mother worked there; but then they heard a second one hit.
“That’s when we all knew it was intentional,” said Abel. “Not long after that we felt a thump; like you got rear-ended by a car. Black smoke drifted by the window and everything got dark.”
Abel spoke of the evacuation and getting out of the building and first responders were going in.
“The firefighters asked us, ‘what are you doing in here,’ and we said, ‘Leaving,” said Abel. “We didn’t have a designated rally point. We didn’t have an alert roster and FEPASS did not exist; making accountability extremely hard.”
He emphasized the importance of planning for emergencies and that September is preparedness month.
“I was called back to work in the Army Operations Center on 9-11. It was eerie, water was standing in some hallways and you could smell the jet fuel,” said Abel. “I’m very blessed. The importance of that day is that it changed all of us and changed what we were doing.”
Photographs and a piece of the Pentagon that was presented to Abel were also on display. “It’s interesting to listen to his story,” said Rob Montefour, site director, DLA Installation Management Operations Susquehanna. “It is meaningful to have someone who experienced that day firsthand speak at our event.”
Since the third Friday in September is nationally recognized as Prisoner of War or Missing in Action Day, this event also served as a remembrance of those listed as POW/MIA with a field cross ceremony performed by the William H. Noss American Legion Post 143’s Sons of the American Legion, and the American Legion Riders. The field cross ceremony first began during the American Civil War and was used to mark the site of field burials that could later be documented or retrieved.