9/11 Pentagon Survivor Addresses Ike Crew
Story Number: NNS060912-14
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathaniel Moger, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs
USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- A naval officer working in the Pentagon during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks visited crew members aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) (CVN 69) at sea to speak to them during a Patriot Day Remembrance.
Marking the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the observance gave the crew an opportunity to reflect on that day and the five years hence, and hear Lt. Kevin Shaeffer’s remarkable tale of survival.
“I was 14 when it happened,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Christopher Boyd, Ike Weapons Department. “Hearing Lt. Shaeffer speak reminded me of how blessed I am to have what I have. I joined the Navy to fight terrorism. I’m really glad I got to see him.”
Sept. 11, 2001, Shaeffer was working on the Chief of Naval Operation’s (CNO) staff, located in the Navy Command Center on the first floor of the Pentagon’s “C-Ring,” when Flight 77 crashed into his office space. Shaeffer was a staff action officer in the CNO’s Naval Strategy and Concepts Branch that day, working alongside 29 other Sailors within the Navy Command Post.
On top of monitoring the actions of naval units worldwide, his office also monitored current events, and the entire staff watched as the events in New York unfolded. At 9:37 a.m., a hijacked airliner crashed into the Pentagon.
“What was a space full of life and bustling activity became a scene full of carnage,” said Shaeffer. “I remember, all my shipmates, all my colleagues, some no more than two to three feet away, were no longer with me.”
Shaeffer was severely burned and had inhaled jet fuel. He made his way to safety through a hole between the “C” and “D-Rings” of the Pentagon. There, he was found by Army Sgt. 1st Class Steve Workman, and subsequently taken in for emergency treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital.
From Walter Reed, he transferred to Washington Hospital Center’s Burn Clinic, where he persevered through a three month struggle to live. After fighting off infection, breathing with the assistance of a ventilator, undergoing daily burn dressing changes, and two cardiac arrests in one day, Shaeffer returned home Dec. 14, 2001.
Since then, Shaeffer has served on the National Commission of Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
Spending the fifth anniversary of the attacks aboard an aircraft carrier at sea was an opportunity Shaeffer quickly accepted.
“The honor is mine to come back into the Navy family and share my experiences with a crew that has worked so hard to get ready [for an] important deployment,” said Shaeffer.
Shaeffer finished his speech with advice for the crew on the eve of a deployment. “I wish you courage in your lives and courage in your upcoming deployment… Never give up when things get tough, and never forget what it felt like that September Day.”
For related news, visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn69/.