“Everything I touched burned my hands.”
John Yates was working at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. His office sustained a near-direct hit from American Airlines Flight 77, and Yates suffered burns on almost 40 percent of his body.
John Yates was working at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. His office sustained a near-direct hit from American Airlines Flight 77, and ...
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John Yates (JY): One of my co-workers asked me if I knew what was going on in New York. So I said no and she said, Well, you gotta come see. And there's a crowd of people watching the TV and so I stood there for a few minutes and watched. And then I walked back to my desk. I called my wife and she said she knew and I said, Well, I just wanted to let you know that I was okay. And she said, Do me a favor. For the rest of the day work from underneath your desk. So I laughed. And I said, Yeah, honey, I will. I love you and I'll see you tonight. And I walked back over and by this time the crowd kind of thinned out a little bit. And just as I'd decided to get up and leave the plane hit the outside of the building. I was blown through the air and when I landed, I really didn't know where I was. That kind of scared me because I knew the floor plan of our space better than I knew the floor plan of our own house. The room was just black and everything I touched burned my hands. I just started crawling on my hands and knees and I knew that I was going in the right direction when it started getting a little bit lighter and could feel water on my back from the sprinklers. Eventually I stood up and started walking down toward the center courtyard. And it's at this point that I finally realize how badly I was hurt because I was walking I looked down at my hands and I remember seeing just strings of skin which was hanging off my hands from the burns. And I remember sitting on the grass and a medic coming up and cutting all of my clothes off of me. And a doctor saying, He goes first. There's a lot of things that I don't remember to this day but I remember my wife waking me up and uh, I thought it was still September 11th. But it was September 13th. You know, when I went back over the second time to watch what was going on in New York, I was standing in the middle of five people and uh, I'm the only one that survived.