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Documenting the Attack on the Pentagon on 9/11

Oral Histories Reference Guide

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.

The oral histories are from Navy Archives collection AR/670 DET 206: Documenting the Attack on the Pentagon on 9/11.  For more information on the collection and a complete list of the oral histories from the collection that have been released to the public, visit the AR/670 main collection page.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is the senior military officer of the Department of the Navy.  The CNO is a four-star admiral and is responsible to the Secretary of the Navy for the command, utilization of resources, and operating efficiency of the operating forces of the Navy and of the Navy shore activities assigned by the Secretary.  A member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the CNO is the principal naval adviser to the President and to the Secretary of the Navy on the conduct of war, and is the principal adviser and naval executive to the Secretary on conduct of activites of the Department of the Navy.1

The CNO on 11 September 2001 was Admiral Vernon Clark.

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV)

The CNO is supported in his mission by a number of flag officers and their staffs, which are collectively known as the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV).

In the oral histories, colloquial references to the OPNAV staff include "Flag Officers," "N Codes," and "Three Stars."

OPNAV Organization (as of September 2001)

VCNO (4 Star): Vice Chief of Naval Operations
DNS (3 Star): Director, Naval Staff
N1 (3 Star): Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP)/ Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (DCNO) Manpower & Personnel
N2 (2 Star): Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI)
N3/N5 (3 Star): DCNO Plans, Policy, and Operations
N4 (3 Star): DCNO Fleet Readiness & Logistics
N6 (3 Star): Director, Space, Information Warfare, Command & Control
N7 (3 Star): DCNO Warfare Requirements and Programs
N8 (3 Star): DCNO Resources, Requirements, & Assessments

OPNAV Flag Officers (as of September 2001)

VCNO: Admiral William Fallon
DNS: Vice Admiral Patricia Tracey
N1/CNP: Vice Admiral Norbert Ryan
N2/DNI: Rear Admiral Richard Porterfield
N3/N5: Vice Admiral Timothy Keating
N6: Vice Admiral Richard Mayo
N7: Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn
N8: Vice Admiral Michael Mullen

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Offices (including Buildings and Locations)

Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP): A tri-service agency of the Department of Defense with a threefold mission of consultation, education and research; Disestablished in 2011; AFIP personnel was involved with the remains identification process at Dover Port Mortuary.

Crystal City Sheraton: A hotel in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington that hosted the Pentagon Family Assistance Center and temporary offices for several different commands in the weeks following the attack. The hotel is now the Westin at 1800 Richmond Hwy in Arlington.

Dover Port Mortuary: The DoD mortuary located at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where all remains from the Pentagon site were processed for identification.  The Dover team also handled the identification of the remains from the Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania.

Inner Courtyard: Also referred to as the courtyard and the center courtyard, the central open-air area at the middle of the Pentagon.

Navy Annex: Also known as Federal Office Building #2 (FOB #2), a large office building that housed Navy and Marine Corps offices. It was located on Columbia Pike next to the Air Force Memorial and across the street from Arlington National Cemetery. The Navy Annex has since been demolished.

Navy Command Center (NCC): The central hub for tracking and monitoring global naval operations, the NCC was located on the first deck of the Pentagon.  The main entrance of the NCC was located at 1D457. The NCC spanned the light well between the D and C Rings, meaning a ceiling had been erected in the light well to create a continuous space on the first deck and the outer wall of the NCC offices was the outer wall of the C Ring.  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.

The personnel that worked in the NCC served in different commands that all shared the NCC spaces.  Here are a few of the commands that shared the NCC spaces.

NCC Offices: CNO IP - Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot 
NCC Offices: METOC - Meteorology and Oceanography Command
NCC Offices: N323 - OPNAV Interagency Support Ops
NCC Offices: N513 - OPNAV Strategy and Concepts
NCC Offices: TOPHAND - Telecommunications
NCC Offices: Watch Floor - OPNAV N3 24-Hour Global Naval Operations Monitoring

A graphic illustrating the layout of the NCC and the plane's path is available here.

Pentagon Family Assistance Center (PFAC): The first joint military service family assistance center, the PFAC was established by the DoD Office of Family Policy within hours of the attack and served as a safe, private place where families could obtain accurate information, receive counseling, and take advantage of a wide range of support services.  The PFAC was located at the Crystal City Sheraton.  

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Navy Programs and Positions Acronyms & Other Common Acronyms

ATAC: Advanced Traceability and Control

CACO: Casualty Assistance Calls Officer, the Navy personnel tasked with notifying and supporting families of victims

DPS: Defense Protective Services, the Pentagon's police force

OSD: Office of the Secretary of Defense

SCIF: Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility

SPRINT: Special Psychiatric Rapid Intervention Team, the Navy's crisis incident management team that provided counseling and management for traumatic stress  

SWO: Surface Warfare Officer

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Navy Lingo

Navy lingo, including shipboard terms, become part of a sailor's everyday vocabulary over time, so sailors often continue using the lingo even when on shore and in civilian life.

The individuals who transcribed the oral histories were not fluent in Navy lingo.  As such, the spellings were based mostly on pronunciation.  Listed here are the terms by their commonly accepted spellings.  Alternate spellings that appear in the oral histories are listed in the definitions.   

Bulkhead: Wall

Deck: Floor, Level

Flag Officers: In the U.S. Navy, a flag officer is any officer at or above the rank of O-7 Rear Admiral (Lower Half).  In the oral histories, the directors of the OPNAV N Code offices were often referred to as a group as "Flag Officers."   

Geedunk: also Gedunk or Gedonk; A term referring to snacks and the location where the snacks are sold.

Hot Wash: also Hotwash; A debrief following a meeting  

JP: also J-P, Jet, or any of the previous followed by a number or letter; Jet Fuel

Khaki(s): The Khaki uniform is reserved for Officers (O-1 and above) and Chief Petty Officers (E-7 and above). For this reason, “Khakis” and “Khaki Uniforms” are often used as shorthand to reference these personnel.

Ladder: A catchall term used to refer to stairs of any angle, as well as actual ladders. When it appears in the oral histories, the term is referencing stairs.

N Code: A shorthand term used to describe the general organization of administrative offices within the U.S. Navy.  The OPNAV N Code structure at the time of 9/11 is listed above.  That organization would have been used by other commands.  For example, U.S. Navy Third Fleet administrative offices are organized by the same N Code structure.  "N Code" can also be used as shorthand to describe the admirals or other leaders who direct the N Code offices.  For example, in the oral histories, "N Codes" was used to refer to the two and three star admirals who were serving as the directors of the OPNAV N Code offices on the day of the attack.

Overhead: Ceiling

Pooka: also Puka; Cubicle

Three Stars: A shorthand term used to describe the Vice Admirals (three stars) who were serving as the directors of the OPNAV N Code offices.

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Pentagon 9/11 Graphics

In order to help readers visualize the spaces in the Pentagon and the surrounding area, graphics originally printed in Pentagon 9/11 (Defense Studies Series), the official OSD account of the attack on the Pentagon, have been made available.  

The complete text of Pentagon 9/11 (Defense Studies Series), including the graphics and images published in the book, is available to view and download as a PDF on the OSD Historical Office website: Pentagon 9/11 (Defense Studies Series) PDF


Aircraft's Final Maneuver Before Impact with the Pentagon

Path of Aircraft into the Pentagon

Layout of the First Floor of the Pentagon

Path of Aircraft through the First Floor of the Pentagon

The Pentagon and Vicinity following the Attack

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Published: Wed Aug 04 08:11:44 EDT 2021