!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News

(9:00 a.m.-9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Top Air Force Officials Learn of Plane Crashes and Realize US Is under Attack, yet Continue Routine Meeting

General Lance W. Lord.General Lance W. Lord. [Source: Air Force Space Command]General John Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff, and many other senior Air Force officials learn about the attacks on the World Trade Center during a regular staff meeting, but, instead of responding to them, initially continue their meeting. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136; 9News, 8/30/2011] Jumper only became Air Force chief of staff five days ago, on September 6, and this is his first official duty day. [Air Force Magazine, 10/2001; Air Force Space Command News Service, 9/5/2002] The meeting, which he is chairing, is taking place in the Air Force Council conference room on the mezzanine level of the Pentagon basement. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136]
Dozens of Senior Officers Are Attending Meeting - Jumper’s meeting is attended by around 40 experienced Air Force officers. [9News, 8/30/2011] These include Lieutenant General Lance Lord, assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force; Lee-Volker Cox, executive officer to the assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force; Brigadier General Paul Kimmel, chief operating officer of the Air National Guard; Colonel Jack Egginton, executive officer to the Air Force chief of staff; Tim Green, assistant executive to the Air Force chief of staff; Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Powell, deputy chief of the secretary of the Air Force’s action group; and Lieutenant General Paul Carlton Jr., surgeon general of the Air Force. [Murphy, 2002, pp. 216; Midland Reporter-Telegram, 4/2/2002; Air Force Space Command News Service, 9/5/2002; Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003; Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 pdf file; KSBY 6, 9/10/2011; Airman, 9/15/2011] It is “the meeting that had all the Air Force senior staff who are in the Pentagon,” Cox will later comment. [KEYT NewsChannel 3, 9/11/2012]
Briefing Is about Terrorism - The regular meeting, referred to as the “Ready Brief,” is where the highest levels of the military are updated on worldwide issues. [9News, 8/30/2011] Today’s meeting, as is always the case on the second Tuesday of the month, is about “black world activities”—subjects that are not normally in the news. “Ironically,” the Daytona Beach News-Journal will report, “this day’s briefing is on anti- and counterterrorism.” On the presentation screen, according to the News-Journal, “faces of terrorists from around the world are being shown and terrorist incidents described.” [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 pdf file]
Screen Shows TV Coverage of First Attack - About halfway through the meeting, at around 9:00 a.m., Powell suddenly stops the briefing and announces that an airplane has hit one of the WTC towers. He turns on the television news coverage of the incident and the large screen in the conference room shows the burning North Tower. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136; 9News, 8/30/2011; Airman, 9/15/2011] “I briefed the boss [i.e. Jumper] that something was up in New York and we piped the news feed into the conference room,” Egginton will recall. [Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003] “At first we thought it was part of the briefing,” Kimmel will comment, adding, “The briefers stopped talking and there was silence in the room.” [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 pdf file] According to Jumper, those in the meeting are immediately suspicious about the cause of the crash. “The news commentator was talking about how the airplane had hit the building and it looked like somebody had been off course going into La Guardia [Airport],” he will recall. “Of course, there was a conference table full of airmen who looked at that dark blue sky on CNN, then looked at each other, and we knew right away that it wasn’t a navigation mistake. It was something much more profound than that.” [Airman, 9/15/2011]
Meeting Attendees See Live Coverage of Second Crash - Soon after they start watching the TV news coverage, those in the meeting see the second hijacked plane, Flight 175, crashing into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 pdf file] “[W]e started watching a live feed and probably within 30 seconds, the second tower got hit,” Green will recall. [Midland Reporter-Telegram, 4/2/2002] According to Cox, “[T]he room just became totally silent.” [KEYT NewsChannel 3, 9/11/2012] Everyone there is now “quite certain what was going on,” Jumper will say. [Airman, 9/15/2011] According to Green, they all quickly respond after seeing Flight 175 crashing. “Everyone in the room knew instantly that we were at war,” he will say. “It’s amazing to watch people in that situation; they immediately shift gears from whatever they were doing to do what needed to be done.” [Midland Reporter-Telegram, 4/2/2002] Lord will say that after seeing the second crash, those in the conference room “all sat there in stunned disbelief for a few seconds, then we quickly went back to our offices.” [Air Force Space Command News Service, 9/5/2002]
Attendees Watch Coverage for Eight Minutes Then Resume Meeting - But according to the Defense Department’s book about the Pentagon attack, those in the conference room watch the TV news coverage for about eight minutes and then Jumper resumes the meeting. He concludes it “quickly.” [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136] He announces: “Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think the meeting is adjourned. We have some work to do.” According to the News-Journal, the meeting is adjourned at 9:20 a.m., 17 minutes after those attending it witnessed the second crash at the WTC. [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 pdf file]
Attendees Return to Their Offices - Those who are in the meeting will then head upstairs to their offices. [Airman, 9/15/2011] Lord will recall that on the way, they hear there is another suspicious plane heading toward Washington, DC. [Air Force Space Command News Service, 9/5/2002] Jumper, accompanied by Egginton, will head to the office of Secretary of the Air Force James Roche and subsequently go with Roche to the Air Force Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003; Airman, 9/15/2011]

Entity Tags: Jack B. Egginton, Lee-Volker Cox, Paul Carlton, US Department of the Air Force, Pierre Powell, Paul Kimmel, Tim Green, John P. Jumper, Lance Lord

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Ordering 

Time period


Email Updates

Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database

 
Donate

Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
Donate Now

Volunteer

If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.
Contact Us

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike