My 9/11: A Personal Reflection by General Jack Keane

By General Jack Keane

General Keane, a four-star general, retired after 37 years of service which culminated in his appointment as acting Chief of Staff and Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army.  General Keane is president of GSI Consulting and serves as chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, and a former and recent member of the Secretary of Defense Policy Board.  In 2018, General Keane was the first military leader to be honored with the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Award and in 2020, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump at the White House.

I was in the Pentagon on 9/11 and lost 85 teammates from the Army Headquarters (among the 125 people killed in the Pentagon and the 59 passengers who died on Flight 77), including a dear friend, Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude, a three‐star general. My secretary lost five friends she had known for more than 20 years. We sent a general officer to every funeral. Terry, my wife, and I attended scores of funerals. Most were buried in Arlington, all together at a site selected in view of the Pentagon.

On that fateful day, I was in my office when one of my staff rushed in to turn on the TV and advise me something terrible had happened in New York City. I saw that a plane had hit the World Trade Center (WTC). I am a born and raised New Yorker. I noticed it was a blue‐sky day and you could not hit the WTC by accident. I knew in 1993 terrorists had tried to bomb the WTC and bring it down from an underground parking garage. I knew instinctively it had to be a terrorist attack and said as much. I ordered the Army Operations Center (AOC) to be brought up to full manning (which was fortuitous because many who occupied it came from the blast area where the plane would eventually hit the Pentagon). The Pentagon is five stories high and five stories below ground level. It houses on a normal day about 25,000 people, most of them civilians. Up until the time the Sears tower was built in Chicago, it was the largest office building in the U.S. The AOC was on the lowest floor.

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Categorized as:North America Reporting

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