At 0937 on 11 September 2001, a Boeing 757 operating as American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. The aircraft, which had been hijacked by terrorists, struck the building at the 1st Floor level between the 4th and 5th corridors in Wedge 1. In the immediate path of the hijacked plane was the Navy Command Center (NCC), the central hub for tracking and monitoring global naval operations. On a normal workday, between 50 and 70 people were on duty in the NCC. On the morning of 11 September, 42 Navy personnel working in the NCC lost their lives. The losses included military and civilian personnel, as well as contractors. Of the survivors, some escaped relatively unscathed, while others would require significant medial atttention.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on 11 September, the Department of Defense and all of the branches of the Armed Forces began efforts to document the attacks. The Naval Historical Center (the predecessor of NHHC) activated its reserve unit Navy Combat Documentation Detachment 206 (DET 206) to assist in the documentation efforts. Over the next ten months, DET 206 reservists and NHC Historians interviewed hundreds of individuals who were in the Pentagon on the day of the attack or were directly involved in the Navy’s response and the work that followed. In addition to gathering oral histories, the reservists collected historical materials which documented the attack and the aftermath.
This collection contains the oral histories and historical materials created and collected by the DET 206 reservists following the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11. The oral history interviews make up the bulk of the collection. All of the oral history interviews have digital audio. Almost all of the oral history interviews have abstracts and transcripts in both hard copy and digital PDF format. The collection also has a large number of photographs taken by service members and eyewitnesses on the day of the attack and the days following. Most of these photographs are available in digital format.
The collection finding aid provides more information on the collection, including a complete list of the oral histories and historical materials.
Please note, there are oral histories listed in the finding aid that have not been authorized for public release at this time. The Oral Histories section of this webpage lists the oral histories that have been authorized for public release and that are now available online.
AR/670 DET 206 9/11 Pentagon Attack Collection Finding Aid (PDF, 875kb)
The Navy Archives has received permission to release a portion of the oral histories to the public for the first time since they were recorded. The oral histories that have been authorized for release are listed here.
Each oral history in this collection offers a unique perspective on the attack on the Pentagon and the events that followed.
For each oral history listed here, there is a dedicated page that summarizes the oral history and provides more details on the individual(s) and their unique perspective(s). On each of these pages, a complete transcript of the oral history is available for download.
These abstracts and transcripts have been reviewed for FOIA exemptions and redactions have been made where necessary.
These abstracts and transcripts were not proofread or checked against the audio before being made available online. Any typos, misspelled words or proper nouns, or transcription errors were made by the original transcriptionist in the early 2000s.
Where necessary, content warnings have been included on the individual oral history pages. The content warning Sensitive Content means the oral history features graphic descriptions of injuries, deaths, and/or human remains. The Sensitive Content label can also indicate other subject matter that would likely be considered upsetting by the reader. The content warning Sensitive Language generally indicates the oral history contains words that would likely be dubbed over or bleeped out on network television (e.g. swear words).
Please note, given the subject matter addressed by all of these oral histories, most of them have some content that could be considered sensitive, even those that are not labeled with that particular content warning.
An Oral Histories Reference Guide is also available. The guide has descriptions and definitions for common terms and references; graphics illustrating the layout of the Pentagon and the surrounding area; and lists of the oral histories organized by category.
Most of the oral histories were given by Navy personnel who had been in the service for many years. As a result, the oral histories are full of terms and references that may be foreign to anyone who is unfamiliar with Navy life. This guide provides descriptions and definitions for the terms and references that appear most commonly in the oral histories.
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) & the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV)
Offices (including Buildings and Locations)
Navy Programs and Positions Acronyms & Other Common Acronyms
In order to help readers visualize the spaces in the Pentagon and the surrounding area, graphics from Pentagon 9/11 (Defense Studies Series), the official OSD account of the attack on the Pentagon, have been made available.
Pentagon 9/11 Graphics (including Floor Plans)
Each individual Pentagon Attack oral history offers a unique perspective on the attack on the Pentagon and the aftermath. At the same time, many of these oral histories relate to other oral histories in different ways. In order to help readers find related stories, the oral histories have been organized by categories. Many of the oral histories are listed under more than one category.
Oral Histories By Category