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Profile: Steve Carter

Steve Carter was a participant or observer in the following events:

Almost half of the Pentagon has to be evacuated because of a small but smoky fire there. [CNN, 8/2/2001] The three-alarm fire apparently starts early in the afternoon, in electrical wires near the loading dock behind a food service area, between two main corridors. [United Press International, 8/2/2001] It starts on the building’s first floor but extends up to the second floor. [CNN, 8/2/2001] It spreads into the return air duct system, causing smoke to disperse through a fifth of the building. Seventeen vehicles respond to it, and it is put out with extinguishers and a minimal amount of water. About 8,000 Pentagon workers are forced to evacuate from the building, but no one suffers any injury. [United Press International, 8/2/2001] Reportedly, the fire provides “the Pentagon’s most relevant experience in dealing with the Flight 77 attack” on 9/11. It is one of the first real tests for the Pentagon’s new Building Operations Command Center (BOCC), which opened two months earlier, on June 4. [Microsoft Executive Circle, 2006] Steve Carter, the assistant building manager, will later recall that due to this fire, when the Pentagon is hit on 9/11 the emergency drill is “fresh in everybody’s mind.” Consequently his building maintenance and operations workers are able to “immediately [start] those same steps again.” [Washington Post, 9/11/2006] And in response to this fire, Paul Haselbush, the director of real estate and facilities at the Pentagon, will direct his staff to update their emergency plans. As a result, his continuity of operations plan will be fresh in his mind when the attack occurs on 9/11. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 143]

Entity Tags: Steve Carter, Pentagon, Building Operations Command Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

In the Building Operations Command Center (BOCC) inside the Pentagon, Steve Carter and his team are watching the unfolding events in New York on one of the center’s monitors. [Plugged In Quarterly, 3/2002, pp. 4-5 pdf file] As the assistant building manager, Carter is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Pentagon. [CNN, 3/5/2002] The BOCC, which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is where systems such as lighting, heating, fire safety, and security for the Pentagon all come together “through a network of thousands of sensors, actuators, and controllers.” According to Chuck Holland, a technical manager, it “has three eight-foot screens back-to-back that monitor everything.… Anything that happens inside and outside the building, we watch it.” [IEEE Spectrum, 8/2003; Engineer Update, 6/2007] After seeing the television footage of the second WTC tower being hit, Carter tells his assistant: “That’s not an accident. We have an event going.” According to some accounts, he and his team immediately begin lockdowns, securing all the mechanical and electrical areas within the Pentagon. They also begin searching for unauthorized people and unusual packages. [Plugged In Quarterly, 3/2002, pp. 4-5 pdf file; Hi-Tech Security Solutions, 10/2004; Vogel, 2007, pp. 429] However, a report in the Washington Post suggests their response is less determined. It states that, after the second WTC crash, Carter “grew uneasy and called his boss to suggest they begin locking down electrical and mechanical rooms in the Pentagon in the event that officials upgraded building security.” The report does not say whether these actions are implemented before the Pentagon is hit at 9:37 a.m. [Washington Post, 9/11/2006] Carter also telephones the Pentagon’s Defense Protective Service and is informed that the threat condition for the building remains at “Normal” (see Shortly After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). He is told that if it should change, DPS will notify the center. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 137] No steps are taken to evacuate the Pentagon or alert workers before it is attacked. [Vogel, 2007, pp. 429]

Entity Tags: Chuck Holland, Steve Carter, Building Operations Command Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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:
bullet 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]
bullet 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]
bullet 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.” [Marble and Milhiser, 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]

Entity Tags: Steve Carter, Jonathan Fruendt, Peter Murphy, John Bowman

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Employees in the Pentagon’s Building Operations Command Center (BOCC) do not realize a plane has hit their building, and are confused when over 300 of the Pentagon’s fire alarms go off at once. [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 31; WHYY-FM, 5/27/2008] The BOCC, located on the first floor of the Pentagon’s innermost corridor, is usually staffed by two or three people who constantly monitor the building’s utility systems. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 137; Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 31] In it, Steve Carter and Kathy Greenwell felt the building tremble and heard a dull explosion when the Pentagon was hit. Their computers then show that, in an instant, 335 fire alarms have gone off, including the alarm for the BOCC itself. As authors Patrick Creed and Rick Newman will describe: “That didn’t make sense. Normally, fire spreads slowly. If the computer was correct, 400,000 square feet of the Pentagon had erupted into flame all at once.” Creed and Newman describe the plane impact that has caused this: “As the mass [of the aircraft] traveled through the building, it began to resemble a shaped charge, a form of explosive that funnels its force into a small, directed area—like a beam of energy—in order to punch holes through armor or other strong material.” The entire event, from the moment of impact until the aircraft’s movement is arrested, has “taken place in eight-tenths of a second.” [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 29-31] Furthermore, an unusual pattern of explosions occurred when the aircraft struck the Pentagon. The Defense Department’s book about the attack will describe: “The Jet A fuel atomized and quickly combusted, causing explosive bursts as the plane hurtled into the building. A detonation 150 feet inside the building resulted from a ‘fuel-air’ explosion after the Jet A tanks disintegrated on impact. Here, as elsewhere, there was no uniform pattern of death and destruction. The vagaries of the fuel-air explosions and freakish blast effects meant deaths occurred randomly inside the Pentagon, with the occupants of seemingly more secure interior offices sometimes suffering worse fates than those nearer the outside wall.” [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 37] In the BOCC, not realizing what has happened, Carter says aloud: “I think we have a truck bomb! Or some kind of explosion!” [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 31] It is not until later in the day that he learns a plane hit the Pentagon. [WHYY-FM, 5/27/2008]

Entity Tags: Building Operations Command Center, Pentagon, Kathy Greenwell, Steve Carter

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Mike Walter.Mike Walter. [Source: CNN]According to a number of witnesses on the ground, a US Air Force F-16 flies low over the Pentagon at this time; apparently becoming the first fighter to arrive over the scene of the third attack. [American Forces Press Service, 10/11/2001; Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 130-131] Firefighters and other emergency responders at the Pentagon recently evacuated away from the crash site, due to reports of another supposedly hijacked aircraft flying toward Washington (see (10:15 a.m.-10:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Department of Health and Human Services, 7/2002, pp. A30 pdf file]
bullet Steve Carter, the assistant building manager, is in the Pentagon’s center courtyard, expecting this plane to hit the building. He then sees an F-16 zoom “low and fast over the courtyard.” [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 130]
bullet On Washington Boulevard, where many fire and rescue personnel relocated during the evacuation, cheers go up when the F-16 flies over. Firefighter Mike Smith shouts out: “Thank God that guy’s there! Where has he been?” [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 130-131]
bullet Lieutenant Commander Dale Rielage will recall that an “arriving combat air patrol F-16 thundered overhead” after the alleged second hijacked plane was said to be approaching the Pentagon. [Fire Engineering, 11/1/2002]
bullet John Jester, the chief of the Defense Protective Service, which guards the Pentagon, says that, following the evacuation, “It wasn’t until an F-15 fighter jet crossed in the sky that we realized the danger had passed.” [Murphy, 2002, pp. 246-247]
bullet USA Today reporter Mike Walter, who has been at the Pentagon since the attack there, recalls that, after the evacuation, an “F-16 came screaming by the Pentagon, and people cheered.” [People, 9/24/2001]
bullet Staff Sergeant Edwin Rotger Jr. will also describe seeing fighters arriving over the Pentagon at this time. However, he says there are two of them, not one. [Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 49]
bullet According to the New York Times, “witnesses, including a reporter for the New York Times who was headed toward the building, did not see any [fighter jets over the Pentagon] until closer to 11 [o’clock].” [New York Times, 9/16/2001]
According to some accounts, the fighter that flies over the Pentagon at this time is Major Billy Hutchison’s F-16 from Andrews Air Force Base (see (10:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Spencer, 2008, pp. 235] Hutchison will recall, “I circled at a couple of hundred feet at the most just to, one, investigate, and two, give the people on the ground some semblance of security of an American fighter coming by” (see 10:39 a.m.-10:45 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Filson, 2003, pp. 81-82] However, some accounts contradict this. Major Dean Eckmann, from Langley Air Force Base, suggests his F-16 is the first to fly over the Pentagon, and this was at some time shortly after 9:45 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). He will say: “I heard stories that people went back in [the Pentagon] after seeing me fly over to help others out.… Now they knew they were safe.” [Filson, 2003, pp. 66] Other accounts similarly suggest that the first fighter jet (or jets) arrived over the Pentagon significantly earlier than is described by the witnesses on the ground, between 9:49 and 10:00 a.m. (see (Between 9:49 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/17/2001; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 34]

Entity Tags: Edwin Rotger Jr., Dale Rielage, Dean Eckmann, John Jester, Mike Walter, Steve Carter, Billy Hutchison, Mike Smith

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announces that, despite the unprecedented attack there this morning, September 12 will be a normal day at the Pentagon and he wants all employees to report for work. [Vogel, 2007, pp. 455; Graff, 2019, pp. 362] Rumsfeld has, since 12:19 p.m., been based in the Executive Support Center, on the third floor of the Pentagon (see 12:19 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 132] Earlier in the afternoon, he went outside to inspect the crash site and saw the extent of the damage there (see (Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 158; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] He saw that while the west wall is breached and on fire, the building’s other four sides are undamaged and at least 60 percent of the building is unaffected by the attack. [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 247-248]
Rumsfeld Has Not Consulted the Incident Commander - He now tells those around him: “I want the chain of command to notify everybody that tomorrow, 12 September, is a normal workday at the Pentagon. I want everybody here reporting for work.” This is “a pretty startling announcement,” Colonel Matthew Klimow, executive assistant to General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will later comment. [Graff, 2019, pp. 362] Rumsfeld did not consult Assistant Chief James Schwartz of the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD), who is the incident commander at the Pentagon, or building supervisors before making the decision to reopen the Pentagon. [Vogel, 2007, pp. 455] “I hadn’t talked to anybody when I said that [the Pentagon should open the next day],” he will recall. His decision was based on his impression “that the smoke and problems had declined, and that there were undoubtedly significant portions of the building that could be occupied safely,” he will say. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 12/23/2002 pdf file] “Having it open for business the next day seemed to me to be important,” he will comment.
Firefighters Will Be Alarmed at Rumsfeld's Decision - Rumsfeld’s announcement, however, will cause concern among senior fire officials. Schwartz will be “astonished at the news,” according to journalist and author Steve Vogel, since firefighters are “battling a big and dangerous fire, an unknown number of dead [are] in the rubble, and there [is] danger of further collapse.” [Vogel, 2007, pp. 455] Chief Edward Plaugher of the ACFD will also be concerned, for a number of reasons. Pamela Varley, a senior case writer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, will describe these, writing: “From a fire safety perspective, it was not considered wise to have the utilities turned back on in parts of the building while the roof was on fire and a large volume of water was being sprayed there. In addition, the crash and fire were emitting potentially dangerous toxins into the building’s air supply. Finally, to have thousands of workers coming and going from the Pentagon complicated the task of controlling and securing the site, and threatened to impede the emergency response.” [Varley, 2009, pp. 256] FBI representatives, meanwhile, will be concerned because the Pentagon is a crime scene. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 144] And Steve Carter, the assistant building manager, will be “flabbergasted,” according to Vogel, although he will understand the rationale behind Rumsfeld’s decision, since the Pentagon has never closed its doors in its history. [Vogel, 2007, pp. 455]
Special Measures Will Be Arranged So the Pentagon Can Reopen - Rumsfeld’s decision will place additional burdens on the ACFD response force and the FBI’s evidence recovery team. [US Department of Health and Human Services, 7/2002, pp. A65 pdf file] Plaugher and John Jester, chief of the Defense Protective Service—the law enforcement agency that guards the Pentagon—will begin an informal negotiation over what will be necessary for large numbers of people to return to the Pentagon. Plaugher will insist that plywood barriers be erected to cordon off the whole area between Corridors 3 and 6. He will also want armed guards with the authority to turn back even the most senior officers placed at every juncture, to prevent military personnel returning to their wrecked offices. And, in light of the smoke and fumes from the fires, he will want plans in place to evacuate the building at a moment’s notice, if necessary. [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 248-249] Due to FBI concerns, yellow crime scene tape and guards will signify that sections of the building between Corridors 2 and 7 are off limits, and wooden wall barriers will later be built to further restrict access to the crash site. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 144] Rumsfeld will publicly announce his decision to reopen the Pentagon on September 12 during a news briefing at 6:42 p.m. (see 6:42 p.m. September 11, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001; Government Executive, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Arlington County Fire Department, Edward Plaugher, Steve Carter, Donald Rumsfeld, Matthew S. Klimow, James Schwartz, Pentagon, John Jester

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline


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