Pentagon Strike Alleged Witness Account: Steven Anderson

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
In "Alleged Pentagon Strike Witnesses Introduction" said:
There are several of these links that bring up errors, they no longer exist on the web. It would be useful if anyone could find them archived somewhere and if a thread has not been created for that witness, to create one in the same style.
The quote from the following text that appears on WhatReallyHappened is underlined.

http://www.jmu.edu/alumni/tragedy_response/read_messages.html


Steve Anderson, sanderson@usatoday.com
Class Year:
1985
Date:
Tuesday Oct 2, 2001, 6:08:49

MESSAGE:
1st Hand Account =yes
2nd Hand Account
Support/Encouragement


The events of Sept. 11 have helped me put my life in perspective

I witnessed the jet hit the Pentagon on September 11.

From my office on the 19th floor of the USA TODAY building in Arlington, Va., I have a view of Arlington Cemetery, Crystal City, the Pentagon, National Airport and the Potomac River.

Tuesday morning, September 11, started out to be like any other day. The air was crisp and the sky was clear. I arrived at my office at about 6:45 a.m. I noted US Air and Delta flights taking off from Reagan National Airport. I figured the weather must be clear up the coast as the shuttle flights were taking off on time.

I made it through my morning regimen of reading five newspapers and scanning several websites. I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I had accomplished so much before the workday actually started.

I turned my attention to e-mail and then checked the newswires to see what went on in the world overnight. At about 8:50 a.m. a bulletin came across the wire stating a plane had crashed in to the World Trade Center. I turned on the television in my office and about 10 of us watched the black smoke rising above the colossal structure. The first reports said a small plane hit the tower. We all thought it must have been the result of a pilot having a heart attack.

The mood turned dark. As we watched the story it appeared that people were jumping out of windows in the burning building. We were collectively in a state of shock when we watched as a second plane slammed into the other tower of the World Trade Center.

At that moment we all knew what had happened. Terrorists had struck hard in New York. We all felt vulnerable in our own "Twin Towers" that overlook Washington, D.C. We have had several bomb threats over the years, but we never dreamed that something like this would happen.

Shortly after watching the second tragedy, I heard jet engines pass our building, which, being so close to the airport is very common. But I thought the airport was closed. I figured it was a plane coming in for landing. A few moments later, as I was looking down at my desk, the plane caught my eye.

It didn't register at first. I thought to myself that I couldn't believe the pilot was flying so low. Then it dawned on me what was about to happen. I watched in horror as the plane flew at treetop level, banked slightly to the left, drug it's wing along the ground and slammed into the west wall of the Pentagon exploding into a giant orange fireball. Then black smoke. Then white smoke.


We didn't know what further plans the terrorists had. Were there more planes in the air? Were they headed toward us? We erred on the side of caution and told people they could leave. Nearly everyone did, including me. We went into emergency plan mode. The company staff tried to regroup in front of the Iwo Jima memorial. But as soon as we got there MPs from Ft. Myer and Arlington Police came through screaming for us to clear the area because another plane was headed that way. We couldn't get back into the building, so we sent people home to work from there. Many of our intrepid journalists stayed in the building. A good number of them have covered wars in the past and have been deployed in combat zones. They don't scare easily. But for me, all I could think about was my wife and our daughter.

The scene around the office was nothing short of pandemonium. Streets were absolutely jammed with cars and people. Many acting crazy driving on the sidewalks and threatening people who were in their way. To make matters worse, a local radio station reported that a plane had hit the USA TODAY building. I called the station and told them they were incorrect. They didn't believe me and kept on reporting it. The station even sent the story up to the radio network, which in turn reported it nationwide. Reporters in California and elsewhere were calling me to confirm the number of dead at USA TODAY.

Outbound cells were jammed, but somehow my wife, an elementary school music teacher, called me on my cell phone and I told her I was OK and that I was going to try and get home. A few minutes after that, her school's principal distributed a note to the teachers that summed up what had happened and told teachers not to discuss it, not to turn on a TV or fire up an internet connection. The note also stated that a plane had hit the USA TODAY building. Fortunately, my wife knew better. Other than that, the school had set up a system of greeters at the main doors to assist parents in picking up their children. Many parents did just that and it was all dealt with in a very orderly fashion. There was fear that some of the kids may have had parents who work at the Pentagon. While many do work at the Pentagon, it turned out none were harmed in the attack.

It took me about 90 minutes to get my car out of the immediate vicinity of my office. I was able to take back roads to my home in Reston, where I was able to work from home for the rest of the day.

While monitoring coverage of the attack I learned American airlines Flight #77 was the plane that slammed into the Pentagon. I have taken that flight on numerous occasions on trips to Los Angeles. That hit me very close to home. I didn't sleep at all that night. I stayed up watching news reports and reading newswires. I slept about two hours each night for the next several nights.

At this point, our lives have returned as close to normal as they will get. It's difficult for me to sit at my desk and look at the gaping hole in the Pentagon, as I relive the tragedy over and over in my head each time I see the building.

But I escape into our little family. Our daughter is three years old and full of energy. We play in the yard, go to the park, paint, color, attend Mass and do all the things parents and children are supposed to do. It gives me comfort to know she is blissfully ignorant of the events that have transpired on September 11. It worries me that it won't always be this way. But I'm sure that's a fear all parents face to one degree or another.

Every day when I come to my office and look out my window I see the charred, gaping hole in the Pentagon and relive the tragedy over and over in my head. It's an image that will be burned into my memory for the rest or my life. Growing up in the Washington, D.C., area I think of all the people I have known who worked in the Pentagon, and the number of times I have been in the building. (And I think of the number of times I have been in the World Trade Center over the years.)

Fortunately, I didn't know anyone killed or missing in any of the attacks. But I know many of you do. My heart and prayers go out to all of you and to everyone everywhere who has been touched by this terrible tragedy. I pray that our leaders at all levels act judiciously and respond effectively.

Even in times of terrible tragedy there is opportunity. Perhaps the coalition that we are building will be able to isolate terrorists and bring them to answer for their actions...or at least remove their ability to carry out another major attack. It has already helped us to come together as one nation. Perhaps this will help us come together as one world.

All of this has given me a great appreciation for the many blessings that have been bestowed on me in my lifetime...as well as a better understanding of what I take for granted. It has helped me recognize my prejudices and given me a clearer understanding of family, love, commitment, dedication, faith and courage.

I think we have all seen how these events have brought out the best in us as a people. Perhaps we can focus on that as we move forward.

If you've read this entire missive, thank you. It's the first time I've written it all down and it has been quite cathartic for me.

-- Steve Anderson ('85), Director of Communications, USA TODAY
 

anart

A Disturbance in the Force
Two things that stand out to me:

witness said:
I watched in horror as the plane flew at treetop level, banked slightly to the left, drug it's wing along the ground and slammed into the west wall of the Pentagon exploding into a giant orange fireball. Then black smoke.
Where is the mark left on the ground from the wing that dragged along the ground? If a wing had been dragged along the ground, would the plane not have bounced up on that side due to the wing hitting the ground, thus making the other wing hit, or at least making it rock violently back and forth - or even cartwheel forward with the grounded wing-tip as the fulcrum? The lack of a trench on the ground, and even the lack of debris in a much more widely scattered area makes this observation seem impossible. I also notice that most, if not all, of these observations seem to put the plane into slow motion some how - if a wing tip is being dragged on the ground, doesn't the whole plane come down or break apart? I'm no physicist (obviously) but it makes no sense to me.


witness said:
The company staff tried to regroup in front of the Iwo Jima memorial. But as soon as we got there MPs from Ft. Myer and Arlington Police came through screaming for us to clear the area because another plane was headed that way. We couldn't get back into the building, so we sent people home to work from there.
Yet another reference to another plane on its way in - I think that 'officials' in the area spread this rumor to keep people in a heightened state of panic, so they could not and would not really notice what was actually happening. The police, the MPs, everyone was saying 'another plane is incoming' which automatically made everyone in the vacinity stop thinking and shut down from fear - I think this served their purposes very well - it kept everyone busy with panic so no one was likely to stop and really look and notice that although the Pentagon had been hit by something, it sure as heck wasn't a 757 . Instead of saying "move along, nothing to see here" they said, "get out, get down, incoming!!!", which is a much more effective way to minimize REAL witnesses - at least it sure looks that way to me.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The report from Steve Anderson, I have divided into sections and commented on it at the end. The What Really Happened Section is underlined. Afterwards a few comments

[Introduction]
Steve Anderson said:
Steve Anderson, sanderson@usatoday.com
Class Year:
1985
Date:
Tuesday Oct 2, 2001, 6:08:49
MESSAGE:
1st Hand Account =yes
2nd Hand Account
Support/Encouragement
The events of Sept. 11 have helped me put my life in perspective
I witnessed the jet hit the Pentagon on September 11.
From my office on the 19th floor of the USA TODAY building in Arlington, Va., I have a view of Arlington Cemetery, Crystal City, the Pentagon, National Airport and the Potomac River.
[Tuesday morning, September 11]
Steve Anderson said:
Tuesday morning, September 11, started out to be like any other day. The air was crisp and the sky was clear. I arrived at my office at about 6:45 a.m. I noted US Air and Delta flights taking off from Reagan National Airport. I figured the weather must be clear up the coast as the shuttle flights were taking off on time.
I made it through my morning regimen of reading five newspapers and scanning several websites. I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I had accomplished so much before the workday actually started.
[World Trade Center]
Steve Anderson said:
I turned my attention to e-mail and then checked the newswires to see what went on in the world overnight. At about 8:50 a.m. a bulletin came across the wire stating a plane had crashed in to the World Trade Center. I turned on the television in my office and about 10 of us watched the black smoke rising above the colossal structure. The first reports said a small plane hit the tower. We all thought it must have been the result of a pilot having a heart attack.
The mood turned dark. As we watched the story it appeared that people were jumping out of windows in the burning building. We were collectively in a state of shock when we watched as a second plane slammed into the other tower of the World Trade Center.
At that moment we all knew what had happened. Terrorists had struck hard in New York. We all felt vulnerable in our own "Twin Towers" that overlook Washington, D.C. We have had several bomb threats over the years, but we never dreamed that something like this would happen.
[The Pentagon Strike]
Steve Anderson said:
Shortly after watching the second tragedy, I heard jet engines pass our building, which, being so close to the airport is very common. But I thought the airport was closed. I figured it was a plane coming in for landing. A few moments later, as I was looking down at my desk, the plane caught my eye.
It didn't register at first. I thought to myself that I couldn't believe the pilot was flying so low. Then it dawned on me what was about to happen. I watched in horror as the plane flew at treetop level, banked slightly to the left, drug it's wing along the ground and slammed into the west wall of the Pentagon exploding into a giant orange fireball. Then black smoke. Then white smoke.
[After the strike]
Steve Anderson said:
We didn't know what further plans the terrorists had. Were there more planes in the air? Were they headed toward us? We erred on the side of caution and told people they could leave. Nearly everyone did, including me. We went into emergency plan mode. The company staff tried to regroup in front of the Iwo Jima memorial. But as soon as we got there MPs from Ft. Myer and Arlington Police came through screaming for us to clear the area because another plane was headed that way. We couldn't get back into the building, so we sent people home to work from there. Many of our intrepid journalists stayed in the building. A good number of them have covered wars in the past and have been deployed in combat zones. They don't scare easily. But for me, all I could think about was my wife and our daughter.
The scene around the office was nothing short of pandemonium. Streets were absolutely jammed with cars and people. Many acting crazy driving on the sidewalks and threatening people who were in their way. To make matters worse, a local radio station reported that a plane had hit the USA TODAY building. I called the station and told them they were incorrect. They didn't believe me and kept on reporting it. The station even sent the story up to the radio network, which in turn reported it nationwide. Reporters in California and elsewhere were calling me to confirm the number of dead at USA TODAY.
Outbound cells were jammed, but somehow my wife, an elementary school music teacher, called me on my cell phone and I told her I was OK and that I was going to try and get home. A few minutes after that, her school's principal distributed a note to the teachers that summed up what had happened and told teachers not to discuss it, not to turn on a TV or fire up an internet connection. The note also stated that a plane had hit the USA TODAY building. Fortunately, my wife knew better. Other than that, the school had set up a system of greeters at the main doors to assist parents in picking up their children. Many parents did just that and it was all dealt with in a very orderly fashion. There was fear that some of the kids may have had parents who work at the Pentagon. While many do work at the Pentagon, it turned out none were harmed in the attack.
It took me about 90 minutes to get my car out of the immediate vicinity of my office. I was able to take back roads to my home in Reston, where I was able to work from home for the rest of the day.
While monitoring coverage of the attack I learned American airlines Flight #77 was the plane that slammed into the Pentagon. I have taken that flight on numerous occasions on trips to Los Angeles. That hit me very close to home. I didn't sleep at all that night. I stayed up watching news reports and reading newswires. I slept about two hours each night for the next several nights.
[Later reactions]
Steve Anderson said:
At this point, our lives have returned as close to normal as they will get. It's difficult for me to sit at my desk and look at the gaping hole in the Pentagon, as I relive the tragedy over and over in my head each time I see the building.
But I escape into our little family. Our daughter is three years old and full of energy. We play in the yard, go to the park, paint, color, attend Mass and do all the things parents and children are supposed to do. It gives me comfort to know she is blissfully ignorant of the events that have transpired on September 11. It worries me that it won't always be this way. But I'm sure that's a fear all parents face to one degree or another.
Every day when I come to my office and look out my window I see the charred, gaping hole in the Pentagon and relive the tragedy over and over in my head. It's an image that will be burned into my memory for the rest or my life. Growing up in the Washington, D.C., area I think of all the people I have known who worked in the Pentagon, and the number of times I have been in the building. (And I think of the number of times I have been in the World Trade Center over the years.)
Fortunately, I didn't know anyone killed or missing in any of the attacks. But I know many of you do. My heart and prayers go out to all of you and to everyone everywhere who has been touched by this terrible tragedy. I pray that our leaders at all levels act judiciously and respond effectively.
[Reflections on opportunities and lessons learned]
Steve Anderson said:
Even in times of terrible tragedy there is opportunity. Perhaps the coalition that we are building will be able to isolate terrorists and bring them to answer for their actions...or at least remove their ability to carry out another major attack. It has already helped us to come together as one nation. Perhaps this will help us come together as one world.
All of this has given me a great appreciation for the many blessings that have been bestowed on me in my lifetime...as well as a better understanding of what I take for granted. It has helped me recognize my prejudices and given me a clearer understanding of family, love, commitment, dedication, faith and courage.
I think we have all seen how these events have brought out the best in us as a people. Perhaps we can focus on that as we move forward.
[Concluding remeark]
Steve Anderson said:
If you've read this entire missive, thank you. It's the first time I've written it all down and it has been quite cathartic for me.
Steve Anderson ('85), Director of Communications, USA TODAY
Comments
The USA TODAY office was moved from Arlington in November 2001, so his observation could be true.

In his observation he does not mention American Airlines, he calls it variously "the jet" or "the plane". He takes it from the news coverage that it was a American Airlines flight # 77 and he does not insist on the B 757 number. What one does not know is along which path the plane flew. If it was along the Sheraton Hotel and Arlington cemetery or it was the lamppost clipper path.

Steve Anderson mentioned the plane "banked", which means to move with one side higher than the other, especially when making a turn. There are others who claim to have seen something similar as for example James Ryan who should have said: "It was very low. At that point he tilted his wings, this way and then this way" and Asework Hagos who in the Guardian is reported saying: "It was tilting its wings up and down like it was trying to balance. It hit some lampposts on the way in." Therefore the observation of Steve Anderson is different, but seeing it from above he may have had a better view of what the result of the tipping was.

The wing that went along the ground is that the wing in the article with Frank Probst from Military City where they say of the right side engine:
Military City said:
''He dove to his right. He recalls the engine passing on one side of him, about six feet away. The plane's right wing went through a generator trailer "like butter," Probst said. The starboard engine hit a low cement wall and blew apart..''
His observation of the explosion is like the one from The Guardian see Timmerman thread: "Paul Begala, a Democratic consultant, said he witnessed an explosion near the Pentagon. "It was a huge fireball, a huge, orange fireball," he said in an interview on his mobile phone."

It would be interesting to know how quick the colour of the smoke changed from black to white. Was the white colour due to debris or water or wiring and insulating "horse hair"?

All in all Steve Anderson brings little new information but some of it confirms what others have said. I think his description of the strike impact on the Pentagon is conspicuously lacking in detail. Did his perspective not allow it or does he not like to mention it. He is after all at the time of the strike a Director of communications at US TODAY and he does not hide that at all.

I can't help but think there is a clue in what he writes about the instructions to the teachers at the elementary school that apparently was close to the scene also. He writes: "her school's principal distributed a note to the teachers that summed up what had happened and told teachers not to discuss it, not to turn on a TV or fire up an internet connection. The note also stated that a plane had hit the USA TODAY building." One wonders if this note was on the initiative of the principal or someone else? Perhaps it was in the same line as the threat of another plane incoming to crash.

Did Steve see more than he lets on? His daughter is now at the time of writing about eight years of age. Maybe one day when she gets a little older she might ask her dad. But we will probably never know.

thorbiorn
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
After last post a question lingered in the mind;

Steve Anderson said:
"To make matters worse, a local radio station reported that a plane had hit the USA TODAY building. I called the station and told them they were incorrect. They didn't believe me and kept on reporting it. The station even sent the story up to the radio network, which in turn reported it nationwide. Reporters in California and elsewhere were calling me to confirm the number of dead at USA TODAY."
If a Director of Communications from USA TODAY called the local radio station and told them they were incorrect about his building having been hit, why did they not believe him?

First, they may have had the information from someone that they trusted and they preferred that over the voice of someone they did not know.

Second, they may have known Steve Anderson, but they had the information from a contact in the police or the military, and since they are considered authorities, they prefered that over the claim of USA TODAY.

Third, they had been told what to say, pretty much like the teachers at the school of his wife.
Steve Anderson said:
"her school's principal distributed a note to the teachers that summed up what had happened and told teachers not to discuss it, not to turn on a TV or fire up an internet connection. The note also stated that a plane had hit the USA TODAY building."
In some other threads, like the one for Tom Hovis I have mentioned other peculiarities regarding the course of events including that the hull of the object in contrast to its wings which made no impact, almost mysteriously disappeared into the building, leaving basically no traces outside of its construction or content. That the firefight and rescue as reported by Lt Col Ted Anderson in the Newsweek article on several occasions was hampered by rumours of another plane. His claim is substantiated by other reports:
In the Charles H. Krohn thread:
Aviation Now said:
"Fire fighting was hampered by reports that twice sent personnel fleeing the area. First, at around 11:28 a.m., a warning that "an aircraft is in the air" sent police, FBI and other security personnel to passages under I-395 that lead away from the Pentagon. They quickly returned, but at 11:34, shouted and radioed warnings of another possible explosion sent people running again. However, by 11:40 FBI teams had returned with brown paper bags and gloves to scour the Pentagon grounds for debris in an area bordered by Pentagon City, Arlington Cemetery and the Potomac River."
http://www.cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=1148
Washington Post said:
"At one point, panic set in when a rumor swept the crowd that another attack was imminent.
"There's another plane coming," someone shouted. Authorities ordered everyone to get under a concrete underpass. The crowd waited uneasily, staring at the sky. But there was no other attack."
It appears that somebody used the authority of the police or the military to confuse and divert the subsequent investigation. Note also that South Coast Today, see Middleton Sr. thread, the 20th of December has:
South Coast Today said:
"Now the Army's 305th Military History Detachment has the job of making sense of the madness."
Apart from the funny formulation, this is after more than three months. This is already long after the wars had begun.

Interestingly there is a reference in the artilce to Pearl Harbour, and also to the murder of Abraham Lincoln which occured on July 7th 1865. (7/7~#77 by the way) Are these stories of history a clue from their side to the the eventual ourcome of their investigation as well as the reality hiding behind it?

Below a picture I found today, 20060517, on one comon German page. It is a still from the DOD release, (see thread.) It shows probably the gigantic organge fireball that Steve Anderson claimed to have seen:
2328762,h=86,pd=2,tlr=true,w=303.jpg


thorbiorn
 
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