McKeown, Nancy LT
9/11 Pentagon Attack Oral History
"I couldn't tell you how long I was in there. It just felt like forever. Not long enough though, because I couldn't find my two guys."
Date of Interview: 25 October 2001
Interviewers: CDR Karen Loftus & CDR Carol O'Hagan, USNR, Navy Combat Documentation Detachment 206
At the time of the attack, LTJG McKeown was serving as the officer in charge (OIC) of the METOC (Meteorology & Oceanography Command) Component located in the Pentagon. On the morning of the attack, she was in her office in the Navy Command Center at the Pentagon.
Oral History Summary:
In the minutes before the plane hit the Pentagon, LTJG McKeown had been standing in the METOC cubicle space talking to the two petty officers under her command, AG1 Edward Earhart and AG2 Matthew Flocco. In the seconds before the plane hit the Pentagon, LTJG McKeown returned to her office around the corner from the cubicle space. As she was sitting down, a loud roar filler the air and the ceiling fell down around her. The plane had just hit the Pentagon and the Navy Command Center was in its direct path.
Her first instinct was to yell "bomb!" and duck under her desk. As soon as the world stopped falling around her, she got to her feet, escaped her small office, and started looking for the two petty officers. Her search was significantly impeded by the office furniture strewn all around, the smoke, and the heat. She also couldn't hear or see anyone else working in the NCC. When she got a glimpse of pale light, she followed it, and ended up in Corridor 4 outside of the main entrance to the NCC.
At the same time she stumbled into Corridor 4, CDR Craig Powell had just started heading into the corridor to look for survivors. He helped steady LTJG McKeown, at which time she told him the names of the two petty officers she was looking for and the office number where they worked in the NCC. So CDR Powell could continue in to look for them, he passed LTJG McKeown to another officer in the area. That officer took LTJG McKeown out to the triage area in the North Parking Lot, where she was loaded into a private minivan and driven to the local urgent care. She retrieved treatment for smoke inhalation and was discharged that day.
After the remains of AG1 Earhart were identified, she escorted them back to his hometown in Kentucky. While in Kentucky, she stopped by a local middle school and shared her experiences. She also attended the funeral services for AG2 Flocco in Delaware.
Beyond detailing the experiences she had on the day of the attack, LTJG McKeown also discussed some of the lessons learned from the day.
Oral History Abstract and Transcript: McKeown, Nancy LT Pentagon Attack Oral History (PDF, 472kb)
Related Oral Histories:
O'Brien, Stephen CAPT (November 2001)