Last Updated:November 18 @ 07:54 am

Eyewitness to Tragedy -- Eleven Years Later

By Bobby Eberle

This is a reprint of a column I wrote on September 12, 2001. The images, sounds, and feelings are as clear to me now as they were eleven years ago. Our freedom is fragile, and there will always be those who seek to destroy it. Please remember all those who were lost.


Although I live in Houston, Texas, I'm writing this column from an apartment in the Washington, DC area. I was here to attend the American Conservative Union's Policy Boot Camp.

I thought I would leave filled with the excitement of hearing from policy experts on numerous topics ranging from social security and medicare to education and technology. Unfortunately, what I take with me is a permanent image of terror and tragedy which is burned into my mind: an image of a passenger airliner, flying low and fast, and headed straight for the Pentagon.

On Tuesday morning, September 11, I was running late for my morning session. The television was on, and at about 9:00 am, we saw a report that an aircraft had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. My initial thought was, "Wow, what a freak accident." With that, my friend with whom I am staying and I were out the door.

We set out in the car and immediately turned on the news radio to follow what was happening in New York City. After fifteen minutes into our trip, a new report came over the radio stating that a second aircraft (another passenger airliner) had struck the World Trade Center. This time, my thoughts shifted immediately from a freak accident to "this is a terrorist attack."

My heart sank as I began to realize what was happening: those killed in the aircraft, those killed in the buildings, and the horror of the realization that this could happen in the first place.

The route from where I'm staying to my conference hotel runs right by the Pentagon. As we slowly crept along in traffic at about 9:30 am, we rounded a bend and had the Pentagon in our sites -- right in front of us. We continued to listen to the radio to take in the latest news on what was happening.

Riding in a convertable with the top down, I then heard a tremendously loud noise from behind me and to my left. I looked back and saw a jet airliner flying very low and very fast. It's amazing what can run through your mind in just a matter of seconds. As a pilot, I can't help but look at an airplane and think about airplane topics. What I saw sent a shiver down my spine as I realized something was not right.

The aircraft was so very low -- as an aircraft would be on its final approach to an airport. However, if you have watched any aircraft come in for a landing, even though the aircraft is descending, it is angled up slightly. This aircraft was angled downward. In addition, landing gear would also be visible on a aircraft so low and so near landing. This aircraft had its landing gear retracted. Finally, an aircraft on final approach is traveling rather slowly. This aircraft sped by very loudly and very quickly.

All of this flashed in my mind as the aircraft passed from behind my left shoulder to in front of me. It was then that the other events of the morning crystallized in the realization that tragedy was about to occur. With all of these images spinning in my head, the only words that came out of my mouth were "Oh no!"

With that, the airliner crashed into the Pentagon and exploded.

I shouted to my friend whose view was partially blocked by a truck in front of us, "Oh my gosh! The jet just hit the Pentagon!"

Much of the traffic stopped immediately, and the stunned looks on people's faces are unforgettable. Many picked up their cell phones, presumably to contact friends and loved ones. I did the same, but I could not get through...


The events of September 11, 2001 are being compared to Pearl Harbor. However, there are tragic and frightening differences. First, when all the lost souls are counted, the death toll will be thousands and thousands higher than Pearl Harbor. Second, with Pearl Harbor, we knew exactly who hit us, and we could plan our counter attack. In this case, who do we attack? Where do we attack?

This is the time for America to come together with a united front and send a message to the world that if you attack America, if you cause terror and rip into our democracy, then the United States of America, with all its might, will hunt you down.

My heart goes out to all who were lost in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. I can't imagine what was going through the minds of the approximately 60 people who were on the flight that flew right by me.

I ask all of you to pray for those lost souls, our leaders, and for the United States of America.

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  1. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    September 11, 2012 @ 8:25 am

    The above scenario should be burned into the minds and hearts of All true Americans and the next time some idiot declares it was Bush’s war or “Bush Did it” just proceed to verbally ***** slap their mouths in reply.

    George Bush and all true Americans who fell in line with defense of this county DID NOT ask for this war, or ever seek a venue for spending the billions we did to defend America. They did EXACTLY what countires were designed to do which is to defend collectively what people are too weak to do individually…… LIKE FIGHT WARS! How rediculous are the people of the Democrat party are, to constantly form their collectives of the weak to have government do for them that which government was NEVER designed to do, which individuals are designed to do like feed, cloth house oneself and wipe the drool from one’s own leaking mouths and orifices. However when you as an ideology consistently make war upon your own people and own wealth producing people to weaken our ability to fight our external enemies, it soon becomes apparent that it is YOU and your Partty of former fellow Americans in formerly sane polititcal discourse who have silently and secretly become the internal real enemy of our individuals freedoms.

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  2. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    September 11, 2012 @ 8:48 am

    Muhammed Atta Who piloted one of the Aircraft into the Twin Towers on 911 took flight training near my nephew’s house in Venice Florida. My nephew worked on his plumbing. Before 911 Everyone was surprised that Atta only wanted to learn how to take off, but was never interest in learning how to safely land. President Obama Muhammed Atta is the same way. He definitely knew how to take off politically before the 2008 election, but NOBODY asked BEFORE hand if he was qualified to land the ship of state. Obama just sits and disparages and blames the 1% people who sit in first class and ignores the fact that he’s been the pilot for FOUR YEARS and his pinhead pinwheel windmills proved not only inadequate to drive and fuel the empty American economic Aircraft, but he fails to mention or tell Americans that when the inexperienced pilot crashes the plane not only do the people in first class perish, but so do those in the middle class and cheap seats. WE ALL WENT DOWN!

    Hello America, forget the “attack the rich” political paradigm that these Democrats would have you swallow. Obama is no experienced steady handed Sully Sullenberger who can do a safe emergency landing of your economic albatross damaged shredded tweet turbine aircraft engine. Obama still thinks a Turbine is something you wear on your head! This President has already grounded our shuttles, doubled the cost of our Jet engine fuel and just keeps shuffling all of us down to Buffalo to float our ship of State down and over Niagara falls.

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    • bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
      September 11, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

      inluminatuo….you do such a great job of writing your posts that I just wanted to personally thank you.

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  3. cxComment by genesal
    September 11, 2012 @ 10:28 am

    What OBL did to the Twin Towers in New York, Obama is doing to America. Put that in the News.

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  4. billwvComment by billwv
    September 11, 2012 @ 10:30 am

    I am thankful that G. W. Bush was POTUS and not Ozero.
    The muslim-in-chief would have probably sent out thank you notes and bowed himself down to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

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    • JuneComment by June
      September 11, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

      Oh, but – -the muslim-in-chief does bow down to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and any other foreign potentate considered to be “unfriendly” to the USA; he, also, sends them “thank-you” notes in the form of of BILLIONS of OUR tax dollars! Consider his “numerous notes” to cair, hamas, the taliban and, for all I know, al-queda!

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      September 11, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

      News Flash” Egyptians storm over the U.S. Embassy walls in Egypt,,,,,Just watch the “Lead From Behind” Jimmy Carter Response.,,, As Obama does the bowing,bobbing and turban weaving “I OWE the Iatola“ dance,, We Americans get treated like the seven dwarfs,,,,I owe, I owe so off to work I go, but the Jobs are gone and our cupboard is as empty as old mother Hubbard’s.

      It’s time we ignore this “TAX the Rich” muslim educated Pilot of our AMerican fighting Jets. The Rich in First class need to clear the Isle for those in the back of the Aircraft who join those in the middle and storm the captured AMerican Cockpit where the real economic terrorist are driving our Ship of state into the ground. Let’s Roll Republic.

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  5. lwessonComment by lwesson
    September 11, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    After Pearl Harbor, that brought the United States into World War 2, there was absolutely no attempt to have a continued flow of immigration, and certainly not from Japan, and certainly not illegal. That is not the case with the World Trade Center, Pentagon attacks by illegal aliens. No, we continue to allow the spigot flow, and every day, citizens are killed. How many since 9/11? A few here, and handful there, The Fort Hood massacre… Mosques rising up everywhere… and our civil liberties trampled on for safety.

    Dad signed up for the Navy within a year of Pearl Harbor. He wanted to be a pilot. As it turned out, his eyesight was not good enough but it was a pilot that nearly killed him, a Kamikaze. Two parts of that plane sit next to me. Talk of good fortune!

    My dear Wife worked at World Trade Center 2, near the top floors. Lucky for her, and me, the company transferred much of it’s operations to Houston. So 9/11 is a rather personal event for us.

    This Christmas, she flies home. I refuse to fly now. It is funny, but somehow, security would likely have not profiled, and stopped the hijackers, but me, oh, likely my beard and mustache, and not so happy look, I would get the whole 9 yards.

    While my future, Missus to be, was setting up shop in Houston, I was just South of DC, working on Gods & Generals. The movie set grew weirdly silent. The Director came out to tell us what had happened. Production ended that day. President Bush asked that production continue. We were later allowed to go to a Memorial Church Service. Crew, actors, all wept, and prayed. It was all too surreal. The movie, Signs, with Mel Gibson continued on as well.

    More than ever, I wonder what exactly 9/11 means? For the Missus & me, we will sit on the front porch tonight, gazing at the moon and stars, counting our blessings.

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  6. Allen SComment by Allen S
    September 11, 2012 @ 10:58 am

    I appreciate this article. The only thing we can do is pray for the living of those who lost their loved ones and friends as well as our Nation’s leaders even if we have a hard time doing so.
    Lam 3:21-25 This I recall to my mind,
    Therefore I have hope.
    The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
    For His compassions never fail.
    They are new every morning;
    Great is Your faithfulness.
    “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
    “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
    The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
    To the person who seeks Him.

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  7. mvotano58Comment by mvotano58
    September 11, 2012 @ 11:25 am

    On the 10th anniversary I joined a group who chose names of victims so we could write a tribute to that person. I chose a young woman named Jennifer Tzemis. As I wrote her tribute, my heart broke again. It broke for her family as I know the tragedy of having to bury a child. It broke for all the people who were lost that day and the loved ones they left behind and it shattered for my country. And today the pain is still there.

    It never leaves me, as I suspect it never leaves the hearts and minds of any one who was a witness to those awful events of September 11, 2001. And today, 11 years later, the abject pain these hateful people visited upon my nation is still as fresh and evident as it was then. I hold dear in my heart the lives of those lost that day and those who have been lost in the defense of America in her 200 plus years of existence.

    God Bless America. Romney-Ryan 2012 and 2016.

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    • canada3dayerComment by canada3dayer
      September 12, 2012 @ 4:36 am

      I remember all too well watching the whole tragic scenario unfold. at the time, I worked in a flight test squadron and we had several televisions around the area tuned to news channels, usually FoxNews. I heard about the first plane on the radio; the morning DJs said something about a plane hitting the WTC but like most they thought it was most likely a small private plane. then, as more became known, we were all collectively glued to the TVs. I remember seeing the second plane hit the second tower, and seeing both collapse. I had briefly been in NYC less than 2 months before, reading for a film that had been set to start shooting on 10 Sep. looks like it was a good thing that I didn’t get cast… I’d been to NYC several times prior to 9/11, flying into LaGuardia, and not once do I remember seeing the Towers. in Sept 2000 I’d been there with my dog, who had been chosen as a finalist in the Advantage (flea control product) Search for North America’s Best Singing Pet Contest, at the South Street Seaport, and don’t recall seeing them even then. but I did meet Mayor Giuliani on that trip; there was a mayoral press conference with all the finalists. he was battling cancer at the time, and I wished him success in that fight.

      it’s amazing the clarity surrounding that day – I can tell you precisely what I’d been doing the night before and precisely what happened from the minute I heard the initial report of a plane crash on the radio. what I did when they sent us all home from work unless we were mission essential personnel. who I called, tried to call, got emails from and what was said in them. what I did that night at home, watching various international coverages of the events of the day. all the changes at work resulting from those events, changes that are still in effect now.

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  8. Mort_fComment by Mort_f
    September 11, 2012 @ 11:53 am

    I will take issue wit one point in the article, and that is, we very quickly learned who the enemy was. Only a few of his foot soldiers died in this attack.

    In the case Of Pearl Harbor, even fewere Japanese ‘foot soldiers’ died. But, again, we knew exactly from whence they came, and what they were a part of.

    The difficult question to answer is what to do. But the first part of the solution is NOT to deny who the enemy is. I will contend that Al Quaida, the Taliban, and names too strange to keep count of, et al , are but mere regiments.

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  9. braines57Comment by braines57
    September 11, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

    No true American can ever forget the events of 9/11/2001 just as no true American ever forgets to pray for our military men and women who are standing to defend our republic and our freedom which the terrorists on that day sought to destroy. We will always remember those that have been lost in defense of our nation, the innocent victims as well as the service men and women, and the first responders who put their lives on the line to save others. Their sacrifice must not be in vain – we must continue to stand for the very things that those terrorists sought to take from us. Neither will I ever forget Pres. George W. Bush’s address to our nation that night – one that you will NOT hear replayed on any station today. His address was every bit as memorable as that of FDR after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor (the day that will live in infamy). Here is a link to it – everyone should take time to hear it again as we remember and NEVER FORGET!

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    • jetstreamComment by jetstream
      September 12, 2012 @ 5:13 am

      Thank you for the link. We will never forget!

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  10. cxComment by genesal
    September 11, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

    Why has Obamf welcomed our enemy and the supporters of those who did us harm, into the Administration? Why hasn’t he been stopped? You can’t tell me they’re smarter than the Japanese!

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      September 11, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

      It’s the old Greek Trojan Horse Approach with our County’s Economy soon to get as greeked by the Liberal tax and spend Geeks as the one currently in Greece.

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  11. bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
    September 11, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

    If man had turned to God long ago this would have never happened. All we can do now is hope that those lost in the attack are with God today.

    Seems that the welcome matt should be taken in for those who come to kill us. Instead, we send them money and invite them over. Insanity at it’s Finest.

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  12. nickster99Comment by nickster99
    September 11, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

    It is a sad day. I remember as everyone does of this great tragedy that fell on us all. I lost 2 relatives when the twin towers fell. I did’nt know them very well only met them a couple times when I was young. Everyone forgets the meaning of all this, especially the young people of our country. What really gets me sick is the people that think this was a plot perpetrated by the U.S. Government. How any one could believe such a thing is beyond my comprehension. My youngest son was told by a teacher when he was still in High School that it was all planned by Bush and the military to start the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He had already graduated when he told me this it was sickening to me. Its no wonder all of our young people are brainwashed by these ******** that teach them. I had a friend that I don’t see very often and he told me the same thing. I said to him “I always thought you were a pretty intelligent person up till now”. I am just glad we are not “good” friends! And how we could the people of this country have elected a “mudslime” for a president absolutely nuts! I hope we have learned our lesson. Vote Romney / Ryan November 6th!

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    • braines57Comment by braines57
      September 12, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

      That’s why it is so important that true Americans are involved in their children’s education, as our public schools today are filled with radical leftists hired and promoted by the unions. I am a single mother of two daughters – one grown and married and the other graduates from high school next spring. Over the years both of them have had teachers who tried to make leftist liberal statements in their classes and both of my daughters respectfully spoke up and questioned the veracity of what was being taught. When they did, many of their fellow students chimed in – it just took someone brave enough to speak up. All it takes in times of crisis is for one person to stand up and stand firm.

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    • canada3dayerComment by canada3dayer
      September 13, 2012 @ 12:01 am

      it’s things like that that make me SO glad that I don’t have kids in the school systems today. if any kids of mine had ever come home and told me that they were being taught things like that, I’d've been at that school and in that teacher’s face so fast I would’ve made the Flash look like he was standing still.

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