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Profile: Peter Murphy
Peter Murphy was a participant or observer in the following events:
Peter Murphy. [Source: Gerry J. Gilmore]Peter Murphy, the counsel to the commandant of the Marine Corps, is in his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon’s outer E Ring, watching the CNN coverage of the attacks in New York. Having seen what happened, Murphy had asked Robert Hogue, his deputy counsel, to check with their administrative clerk, Corporal Timothy Garofola, on the current security status of the Pentagon. Yet despite what has happened in New York, Garofola has reportedly “just received an e-mail from the security manager to all Department of Defense employees that the threat condition remained ‘Normal.’” Garofola passes this information to Hogue. As Hogue is stepping into Murphy’s office to relay the message to him, there is a tremendous explosion as the Pentagon is hit. [Leatherneck, 11/2001; Washington Times, 9/11/2002; Washington Post, 8/3/2003] Reportedly, John Pugrud—the deputy chief of the Defense Protective Service, which guards the Pentagon—is finally about to pass on an instruction to raise the threat level at this time, when the Pentagon is hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 152] The aircraft crashes two floors below and just yards to the right of Murphy’s office. Fortunately, neither he nor any of the men with him are hurt, and they all manage to make it safely outside. [American Forces Press Service, 8/16/2002]
Even though two planes have already crashed in New York, some people in the Pentagon initially think a bomb has gone off when their building is hit:
Steve Carter, who is in the Building Operations Command Center on the first floor of the Pentagon, hears a “big boom,” and tells his assistant, “I think we just got hit by a bomb.” [Vogel, 2007, pp. 434]
John Bowman, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, is in his office near the main entrance to the Pentagon’s south parking lot at the time of the attack. He later describes, “Most people knew it was a bomb.” [Pentagram, 9/14/2001]
Army Colonel Jonathan Fruendt is in his second floor office in the Pentagon’s inner A Ring, when he feels and hears “a very sharp jolt and the sound of an explosion.” He later recalls, “I thought it was a bomb that had gone off.” [Office of Medical History, 9/2004, pp. 73]
Apparently only a few people in the Pentagon initially guess a plane has hit the place. According to the Defense Department’s book about the Pentagon attack, among the few exceptions are Peter Murphy and his companions in the Marine Corps Office of the General Counsel, located on the fourth floor just above where the building is hit: “Unlike most other survivors, Murphy and his companions ‘were pretty certain it was a plane and it was a terrorist,’ even though they had not seen the plane coming in. They had been watching the attack on the Twin Towers and had speculated about such an attack on the Pentagon.” [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 45]
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