John Yates

John Yates was working at the Pentagon as a civilian security manager on September 11, 2001.

That morning, he and five colleagues gathered around a television to watch the news of the attack on the World Trade Center. Afterwards, he returned to his desk to call his wife and assure her he was fine. Soon after rejoining his colleagues, American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.

The impact blew John through the air. He crawled through the wreckage and eventually found his way to the Pentagon’s center courtyard, where his clothing was cut off and a doctor began treatment.

Two days later John awoke in the hospital suffering burns on almost 40 percent of his body. The five colleagues he’d been with that morning were all killed in the explosion.

John came to StoryCorps to talk about his memories of that morning.

Originally aired September 11, 2011, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.