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Ceremonial Guard

9/11 Pentagon Attack Oral History

That was really hard, just sitting there listening to his wife cry and just talk. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Just sit there and listen to a wife, of somebody who just passed away, got killed by a terrorist.

This is a group oral history done with several members of the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard who served in the same unit within the command.  The members interviewed were SN Jennifer Arment; AE3 Nathaniel Artist; EW3 Michael Bannat; SN Matthew Berube; AA Andre Devone; AN Della Kobbe; FN Gary Maples; AN Jeffrey Robey; and MS3 Stephen Smith.

Date of Interview: 20 March 2002

Interviewers: CAPT Gary Hall, CAPT Michael McDaniel, CDR Carol O'Hagan, & YNCS Kathleen Wright, USNR, Navy Combat Documentation Detachment 206

On the morning of the attack, the Ceremonial Guard unit was at Arlington National Cemetery, where they were scheduled to serve as honor guards at funerals throughout the day.

United States Navy Ceremonial Guard Members
Title: United States Navy Ceremonial Guard Members
Caption: From Left: AN Robey, FN Maples, SN Berube, AE3 Artist, AN Kobbe, MS3 Smith, SN Arment, EW3 Bannat (Not Pictured: AA Devone)

Oral History Summary:

The Ceremonial Guard unit had just finished serving at their first funeral of the day and were returning to one of the admin buildings at the cemetery to await their next funeral duty for the day.  They were on a bus heading towards the admin building when they received word of a plane crashing into a building in New York City. Amongst themselves they debated if such an occurrence could ever happen in Washington, DC. Moments later they witnessed American Airlines Flight 77 crash into the Pentagon.

Two days later, this unit was back out performing funeral honors. While each Pentagon funeral was difficult, the most difficult funeral was the one they couldn’t conduct. If a ceremonial Guard Member passes while in the unit, he or she is entitled to an 87-man funeral, the highest honor the unit can bestow upon one of their own. ET2 Brian Moss had transferred from the unit to the Pentagon about a month before he perished in the attacks. Not being able to honor their own weighed heavy on this unit as they honored other victims of that horrific day, including American Airlines Captain Charles Burlingame.

In addition to discussing their experiences on the day of the attack and in the days, weeks, and months that followed as a group, each of the unit members discussed their individual perspectives on the attacks and the impacts they had on the world.  They also provided details on their personal lives and backgrounds. 

Content Warnings: Sensitive Language

Oral History Abstract and Transcript: Ceremonial Guard Pentagon Attack Oral History (PDF, 634kb)

Related Oral Histories:

Martin, Marshall CDR

Spurgeon, Todd ETC

Ceremonial Guard Individual Photos:

Arment, Jennifer SN
Title: Arment, Jennifer SN

Artist, Nathaniel AE3
Title: Artist, Nathaniel AE3

Bannat, Michael EW3
Title: Bannat, Michael EW3

Berube, Matthew SN
Title: Berube, Matthew SN

Kobbe, Della AN
Title: Kobbe, Della AN

Maples, Gary FN
Title: Maples, Gary FN

Robey, Jeffrey AN
Title: Robey, Jeffrey AN

Smith, Stephan MS3
Title: Smith, Stephan MS3

Published: Fri Jun 11 16:26:03 EDT 2021