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Profile: Mary Turner
Mary Turner was a participant or observer in the following events:
Colonel Matthew Klimow, executive assistant to General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks on the phone with either General Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or Lieutenant Commander Suzanne Giesemann, one of Shelton’s aides, and alerts them to the attack on the Pentagon soon after it occurs. [Giesemann, 2008, pp. 24; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Shelton is currently flying across the Atlantic Ocean for a NATO meeting in Europe (see 7:15 a.m. September 11, 2001) and Giesemann is accompanying him. They were both alerted to the crashes at the World Trade Center shortly after the attacks occurred and in response, Shelton gave the order for his plane to turn around and head back to the US (see (8:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Giesemann, 2008, pp. 21-23; Shelton, Levinson, and McConnell, 2010, pp. 430-431] Klimow is at the Pentagon and has seen the news of the crashes at the WTC on television. He has been participating in the conference call convened by the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon at 9:29 a.m. (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 9:37 a.m.-9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001).
Executive Assistant Is Alerted to the Call from Shelton's Plane - After Klimow has been on the conference call for a short time, Mary Turner, his secretary, tries to get his attention. Annoyed at the interruption, though, he tells her: “Mary, no, not now. I’m taking notes.” But Turner is undeterred and starts waving her hands at him. She then says Shelton is calling on the unsecured phone, Klimow will later recall. “He wants to talk, now. He’s calling from his airplane,” she adds. But Giesemann will write that she, not Shelton, makes the call from Shelton’s plane at this time. She will describe calling Shelton’s office at the Pentagon and reaching Klimow there.
Executive Assistant Updates the Caller - While still listening to the conference call on his secure phone, Klimow picks up his unsecured phone to talk to either Shelton or Giesemann. He will recall Shelton snapping at him, “Klimow, what the devil is going on back there?” to which he replies: “Sir, I’m on the Red Switch [secure phone] with the White House and NORAD. I’ll relay information.” But according to Giesemann, Klimow tells her: “Suzanne, this is really bad. The scenes on TV are unbelievable.” He then says, “You guys need to get back here right away” and Giesemann replies, “We’re coming now.”
Secretary Feels the Pentagon Move - Klimow’s secretary notices when the Pentagon is attacked, at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Klimow will recall that as he is passing on the information he is hearing over the conference call to Shelton’s plane, Turner, who is sitting next to him, suddenly stands up and exclaims, “My God, the building moved.” He then notices “pandemonium” outside his door, with people running down the corridor, yelling and shouting. However, with his attention focused on two phone calls, he hadn’t noticed the building moving or heard anything unusual when the Pentagon was hit. Annoyed, he therefore instructs his secretary: “Mary, close the door. I can’t hear.” Giesemann will describe noticing the turmoil at the Pentagon, with the sound of shouting in the background coming over her headphones. “What’s all that commotion, Colonel?” she asks and Klimow replies: “I’m not sure. Stand by, Suzanne.” [Giesemann, 2008, pp. 24; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
Crash Is Reported over the Conference Call - Klimow learns what happened when, at 9:39 a.m., Captain Charles Leidig, the acting deputy director for operations in the NMCC, states over the conference call, “There’s a report that an aircraft has crashed into the Mall side of the Pentagon.” A couple of minutes later, Klimow checks this information with Leidig, asking him, “Do we confirm that [an] aircraft crashed into the building?” and Leidig replies: “On live TV you can now see smoke emitting from the Pentagon. Yes, sir. It’s confirmed.” [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 ; US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 ]
Executive Assistant Tells the Caller about the Pentagon Attack - Klimow passes on news of the attack to either Shelton or Giesemann. According to his own recollection, he tells Shelton: “Sir, we’ve been hit. The Pentagon’s been hit by an airplane. Turn your aircraft around. Get back to Washington.” The call then ends. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012; Graff, 2019, pp. 98] But Giesemann will recall him saying: “Something’s happened here at the Pentagon. I think a bomb exploded, but we’re still trying to find out what it was.” He then tells her, “I have to go.” [Giesemann, 2008, pp. 24] Klimow will subsequently tell Leidig over the conference call that he has informed Shelton’s plane about the Pentagon attack. “I’ve passed all the information that you just said to General Shelton’s aircraft,” he will say, adding, “I’ve had comms with him consistently but he just dropped.” [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 ] A short time later, he will receive a call from Myers, who is being driven back to the Pentagon from a meeting on Capitol Hill (see (Before 9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
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